FROM GEORGE ALUO, RIO BRAZIL
Nigeria may turn out to be the only country here in Rio that is not showcasing her culture and projecting her image.
Apart from the shame of our athletes marching past on day one in track suites, the Nigeria House project has turned out to be a sham.
Nigeria House was supposed to be the hub of the nation’s cultural and commercial activities at the on-going Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
The project was launched by the former Director General of the defunct National Sports Commission (NSC), Alhassan Yakmut, with the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) Secretary General, Tunde Popoola, as its inaugural chairman.
It was, among others, charged with promoting and showcasing Nigeria’s culture at the games.
When Solomon Dalung became minister in 2015, he dissolved the Popoola-led board and set up a new one with Mohammed B. Abdullahi as its new project coordinator.
Bappa Missau was named as the NOC representative in the new committee.
Shortly before the beginning of the Rio Olympics, the members of the Nigeria House sent out a statement celebrating the launch of the project’s theme song said to be written by John Wakawa.
Entitled ‘Going For Gold,’ the song was described by Project Coordinator and Chief Executive Officer of Nigeria Hospitality Project in Rio, Mohammed Abdullahi, as capable of enhancing the message of the Nigerian House. “We do not have proper jurisdiction for the games but as a hospitality house the theme song/video will be played in the Nigeria House in Rio as part of our support for Team Nigeria in an effort to further sensitise and mobilize support for Team Nigeria in Rio,” he said in a statement sent to journalists.
However, there are discordant tunes over the existence of the Nigerian House. Indications are that the project does not exist.
According to a senior staff of the Ministry of Sports, who pleaded anonymity, the House only exists on paper.
He said, “the Nigeria House Project, as conceptualized by our former director general, would have been the centre of all commercial and cultural activities here in Rio.
“Billions of naira was collected from the private sector and the Federal Government for the project, but the new managers could not actualize the project because they did not share the same vision with the initiators.
“I cannot say why the new managers continued advertising the project when it had already been botched, but I am sure the permanent secretary, Mr. Christian Ohaa, will be in a better position to answer your questions.”