The banal trade in fake/black medals that is commonly attributed to major sporting events appears set to affect the forthcoming 2020 edition of Nigeria’s largest sports fiesta, the National Sports Festival (NSF), investigations have revealed.
Checks have revealed that plots have thickened to unleash the usual strategy that is applied to invoke medals in favor of the highest bidders.
Our investigations disclosed that the medal racketeers have perfected their money for medals scheme, as reports show that such medals would be shopped from events that attract less attention/public interest, mostly indoor individual events.
Judicialsketch.com also found that plans are grounded to weed out officiating officials who are unwilling to play balls to pave way for good black medal business at the games in March.
There are insinuations also that federations would be cornered to disenfranchise states that are renowned to be dominant forces in certain events.
A source in the federal ministry of youths and sports confirmed that there are rumours of ongoing underground trade in medals prior to the flag off of the festival scheduled for Benin, Edo state capital.
The source said “The ministry is aware of some of these problems, the sporting federations are hell bent on supervising the officiating in Edo, the date for the submission of names of officiating officials have elapsed and no names have been submitted by the federations so far. We smell a foul play.
Judicialsketch.com gathered that there is no love lost between the main organizing committee (MOC) set up by the sports ministry and the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) headed by the deputy governor of the host state, and this has further created space for prosperous negotiations by those who are reputable in the black medal trade.
Weeks to the commencement of the festival the two strategic committees have not held the mandatory pre-events meetings to deliberate or harmonize their workings, primarily owing to ego clash between the heads of the MOC and the LOC.
There are indications that the racketing experts have also devised a method referred to as ‘pitching’, simply meaning the creation of an arrangement where their clients confront supposed weaker oppositions to arrive at the medal zone.
Attempts to contact the minister of youths and sports, Sunday Dare through his special assistant on media, Kola Daniel proved futile as he did not pick calls or respond to text messages from our reporter.
In the forefront of the alleged Edo 2020 medal black market is the Nigeria Rugby Football Federation (NRFF).
Outbursts have continued to trail a planned three-day seminar for technical officials organized by the rugby federation.
The federation in a letter dated 3/2/2020 with Ref no NRFF/NSF/TECH/VOL 15, in the missive summoned states to dispatch one technical official to Edo for technical training.
The training invoked concerns amongst rugby stakeholders, many citing the training as a plot to flush out officials known to be of integrity who would not compromise nor concede to the antics to be adopted by the medal traders.
Our correspondent gathered that deliberations are ongoing amongst concerned stakeholders, whose states have qualified to compete in rugby, with the subtle threat that they may opt out of the festival.
One official simply said “we may not go to Edo with our rugby team, no need to spend our money, take the team to Edo, only to be robbed of our chances.”
Efforts to get the President Nigeria Rugby Football Federation (NRFF), Kelechi Mbagwu to respond to the allegations raised also failed, calls put across to his mobile phone were barred.
The recent rift in major sports federations, prominently, Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) Power Lifting amongst others have continued to be leveraged upon medal racketeers and their cohorts who are domicile in the ministry of youths and sports, as they prey on the situation to cushion their illegal trade.
Contacted to verify if Kano state would pull its rugby team and volleyball teams out of the festival due to fear of being robbed by planted officiating officials, the public relations officer,(PRO) Kano State Sports Commission,(KSSC) Abbati Sabo could not out rightly deny or confirm the proposed withdrawal.
He said “we are in a meeting with the chairman of the commission, to further strengthen our plans for Edo 2020, issues around the medal racketing is already everywhere, we are honestly worried by the news filtering in. When we are out of the meeting, I will get back to yo, on our decision concerning this issue,” Abbati said.
It would be recalled that the preceding edition of the festival in Abuja in 2018, reports were prevailing on how the fiesta was turned into money-spinning machine to the advantage of those who spin medals and dole out same to their ever available patrons.