In just a few days’ time 2016 Rio Olympics will be history.
With the possible bronze medal in soccer and another medal in 4×100 relay Nigeria could go medal-less in this quadrennial sports event.
African countries like Kenya, South Africa, Egypt, Ethiopia, etc. will go home with several medals.
Small countries with populations less than most of the Nigerian small states such as Jamaica, Denmark, New Zealand, Qatar, etc. will also go home with a trove of Medals.
But Nigeria, 140 million strong, may go home without.
I will leave the discussion of such matters as motivation, psychology and psychiatry to Dr. Thomas Osuji et al who often write on such matters to speak on what if any impact they have on high level performances.
As a former/present teacher and games master (coach) I believe that motivation is a factor in any competition.
I will venture to propose that self-motivation and patriotic motivation are the two most essential ingredients in a success story.
Give me a choice between a highly motivated individual with little talent; and a highly talented person with minimal motivation; and I will pick the former every time.
Nigerian athletes and others have self-motivation and talent in abundance.
They have two of the three most important factors in a competition but they do not have national/patriotic motivation.
And without this third element, they have not performed up to their potential in world events, athletic and otherwise.
What is self-motivation – inspiration or perspiration?
So, which is it? Inspiration or Perspiration? Self-empowerment and self-motivation?
Remember all the brilliant examples of the successful and famous.
Those people who went through the wringer of perspiration and effort, sparked by their inspiration, belief and vision.
That one day their idea, invention, book, whatever – could become a reality. Their trials and tribulations.
Their successes, setbacks, rejections and failures. Yet they kept faith with themselves. They maintained their self-confidence.
They utilized their positive mental attitude. Their self-motivation a key.
They kept on going, when most would have walked away, and made their ‘little’ bit of history. [What is self-motivation?]
Patriotic motivation is the motivation that is defined by one’s love and devotion to one’s country.
Nigerian athletes, like other Nigerians love their country.
And like other Nigerians are too often betrayed by their country and this sometimes leads to not giving the last drop of blood and tears.
Take as an example the last few weeks before Rio. The athletes did not know if they were on or off.
They could not say their byes with family or friends before they were spirited off at the dead of the night like thieves and deposited at Atlanta where the nightmare continued.
They only got to Rio thanks to the goodness of Delta Airlines which saw their agony and disappointments and offered to fly them to Rio and work out the details of payments after the fact.
How can one be motivated strongly to serve a country that does this to their representatives?
Are they thankful to Delta for helping or ashamed that they were the beneficiaries of a foreign corporation’s goodwill?
There are two tragedies here as I have written more than once.
The first is that there was somebody who was strong enough to withhold their funds and the second was that when PMB got the wind of the hold-up even he could not cut off the hands that withheld approved funds.
He saw the Islamic or northern hands and smiled and worked away without demonstrating that actions have consequences.
Would that a Biafran agitator had been found to have done this and the world would have witnessed yet another blood bath.
Would that a GEJ appointee was responsible and he/she would have felt the wrath of hell. Just ask Mr. Aluko and other GEJ’s anointed VC’s.
But not this time. These folks are not children of different god.
Winning Olympic Medals is a product of years of training; years of endurance and conditioning training; years of use of adequate facilities and devoted coaching; years of encouragement from the community and the government.
These are what it takes. Nigerian athletes do not count on any of these except community support.
Nigeria has no confidence in its people.
A Nigerian coach has taken a Nigerian poorly supported soccer team to the semi-finals of Rio Olympics but Nigerians are looking for a 3rd rate French coach to train the next crops of players.
A Yoruba adage advises us to check our pants (sokoto) before venturing to far-away Sokoto in search of things.
2016 Nigeria ought to listen to this voice.
Sports is obviously not that important in the scheme of things in Nigeria and is most often overrated.
But Nigeria’s inability to do small things well is a harbinger of why we are not able to do big things at all.
In sports there are no need for technological transfers; no need to import foreign materials; no need for inviting foreign technical experts and no need for foreign travels.
All the raw materials and technical knowledge are all contained in Nigeria’s four walls.
It is time to check our trouser pockets. The one we are wearing right now!
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba, Boston, Massachusetts