The Kayode Thomas  piece on Sports Icons: pot pouri of half truths, deceit, ignorance and hatchet work

Segun Odegbami

By Oyewole Owolabi

The write up by Olukayode Thomas entitled ” Sunday Dare’s list of sports icons smacks of nepotism, rewards drug cheats” is not only  a futile  attempt to pooh pooh the  noble objective  of  according  recognition  to notable  sports icons and Nigerians,   it is full  of bile, fictional  postulations, outlandish claims and a deliberate  effort to re -write history.
Given his penchant for  always running people down which led to his inglorious exit from The Guardian, one is tempted  not to dignify  him with a response.
His choice of words, submissions and diatribe and misleading and  archetypal of one who likes pulling down whatever does not benefit his pay masters and his ego.
For the record, Dare is the first Minister  to  have given recognition  to  Nigerian Atheletes without directly influencing the process. Thomas frontal attack on the Minister  is therefore not only off the  curve, but mischievous unwarranted  and unfair.
It is important that Kayode makes inquiries before going to town with outright lies and misinformation.
It is  instructive and  necessary  for Kayode to  know that the Minister  never  took part in the selection  process. The 60 icons were chosen by Nigerians who voted online, through radio, television, and also by the  nomination of  respected sports veterans. But then the sleuth work needed for fact checking that this process took place is something that is beyond petit minds like the one possessed by Kayode.
In addition, the list was scrutinised  by respected Nigerians whose reputation  and judgement  surpasses  Thomas jaundiced, myopic and sponsored  write- up. While Thomas lacks the moral compass to   condemn anyone or the process, his view point  further tains his  reputation  as  unbiased arbiter.
Typically, if Thomas was  in the committee, he would not have seen anything  wrong in the list, but would have arrogated to himself repository  of knowledge and  fake influence.
His reference  to Chioma  Ajunwa and Mary Onyali as drug cheats is not only vindictive, but an attempt to settle personal  scores and erode their achievements. While the duo were sanctioned for falling short  of doping  law, their medals were never withdrawn  by the International  Olympics Committee.  The Federal Government  had also bestowed  national honour on them and they have remained  relevant in sports circles.
The process of chosing the icons was not only foolproof, but transparent and  meticulous. So, rather than dwell on falsehood and wrong inferences, Thomas ought to applaud the initiative of the Minister. His insinuations  are not the hallmark of a patriotic Nigerian, but the rantings of a disgruntled and  misled individual. There are many Nigerian  deserving of being  listed  in the Compendium  who never made it, but that is not enough  to attempt  to rubbish the process or the initiative.
By far, this is one of  most  remarkable  effort at given recognition to Nigerian Atheletes. His claim to  knowing what  ought to be done and casting aspersions  on those  who scrutinised  the final list is disingenuous and  lacking in substance  and standing logic on it’s  head. The list of sports  icons is inexhaustible. Faced with the  mandate to produce  just 60 names to resonate  with  the  60 years Independence anniversary celebration of Nigeria, the committee  was handicapped.  No matter the sentiments, the list cpuld not have accomodated every personality  deserving of honour.

Thomas assertions about Dangote and Chief Kesington  is not only insulting, but calls to question  his upbringing  and  traditional value  of respect for elders. Calling to question  the contributions  of two noble people who have spent billions  in  the rescucitation of decaying facilities is unfortunate . Unlike others, these eminent Nigerians  have supported  sports in diverse  ways without asking for anything  in return. Thomas who has the ignoble  culture of reaping without  sowing should rather bury his head in shame  and amend his ways.

The litigation, as a result of unfounded, damaging libellous  storyline  published  by Thomas remains a sore thumb in the history  of the last reputable  place he worked. How can anyone  who claims to be the Wikipedia of sports not understand  that these people were honoured   under special recognition  which did not require  winning medal? Thomas would contradict  himself  when he listed people that ought to have been honoured, even while they never won medals for Nigeria. This hatchet job is headed in the wrong direction. Dead even before it’s flight. Kayode Thomas piece should be confined to the place it deserves to be- trash can.

Oyewole Owolabi wrote from Lagos