Barely a week after revealing the athletes rather than the coaches picked the team that won the 4x200m relay gold for Nigeria at the IAAF World Relays last weekend in the Bahamas, double Commonwealth sprints champions, Blessing Okagbare has blasted the Athletic Federation of Nigeria (AFN) over its craze for recruiting foreign nationals to compete for Nigeria.
Over 10 foreign athletes whose reported links to Nigeria could not be verified have been recruited by the Solomon Ogba-led AFN in the last two years but this exercise has not seen an upward swing in the performance of Team Nigeria in international Championships and Games and Okagbare has joined the likes of fellow sprinter, Gloria
Asumnu in criticising the move which she sees as detrimental to the growth of the sport in Nigeria. ”For those hoping for a change in our Nigeria track & field, should not just wait but also pray,’began Okagbare in a message on her facebook wall.
‘Honestly, I have been so calm about these people killing our grassroot section/home based athletes with their recruiting of athletes from other countries instead of building the great talents that we have.What a show of shame the administration have become. They sit down, criticize the athletes back home that they are not improving or doing enough to be at the top but yet, they don’t do anything to support them, rate their recruits above the great talent that the country have, paying money and rent to athletes who have not even shown up to our Nigeria trials just to look good. Enough is enough with the short cuts to success because our nation and athletes are so better than this, wrote Okagbare (unedited) on her wall.
Okagbare who holds the African 100m record at 10.79 seconds and isnumber three on the Nigerian/African 200m all-time list at 22.23 seconds also wondered why the AFN keeps giving all these foreign athletes with no verifiable links to Nigeria Nigerian names.
‘When Femi Ogunde switched allegiance, did they give him a name from Qatar claiming he has heritage there? If you do not know, that is what our people are doing. Giving foreigners a Nigerian name that they have Nigerian root.’