Jacob Ajom’s Random Jottings


I feel like learning sign language

Language is the easiest way through which humanity and, perhaps, animals communicate with each other.

Legend has it that the entire humanity once spoke the same language but their urge to use language against God’s wish turned out to be their greatest undoing. They wanted to build a tower, high enough to reach God, Genesis (11: 1—9).

On seeing this, God confounded their speech so that they could no longer understand each other and scattered them around the world.

That, to me was the beginning of humanity’s biggest problem, poor understanding of one another, so that even when people speak the same language, it isn’t easy comprehending one another.

Here in Brazil, it has not been easy for me in particular, a first timer who knows nothing about Portuguese language. I have not been able to top
the credit on my phone. I have been made to carry about a sheet of paper bearing the address of where I stay as that speaks for me, each time I miss my way or want to tell a taxi driver to take me home. Shopping has almost been impossible without a guide. Indeed, I feel like learning the sign language. Even if I did, will I be understood?.

No Nigeria House in Brazil
The much-talked about Nigeria House Project in Rio at the Olympics is a mirage, as Nigeria House does not exist despite the reported huge sum of money spent on the project. It was supposed to be the hub of Nigeria’s cultural and commercial activities at the 2016 Games.

It was a project initiated by the former Director General of the defunct National Sports Commission (NSC), Alhassan Yakmut, who followed it up by setting up a committee with 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.

Hardly had the committee settled for business, when the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung dissolved the Popoola-led board and set up a new one with Mohammed B. Abdullahi as chairman and 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. “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 were 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.”

Efforts to reach Ohaa failed.

Sports Ministry, NOC cold war continues
As was the case with the unilateral appointment of Team Nigeria captain by the ministry of sports and youth development without any input from the Nigeria Olympic Committee,

Nigeria’s participation in the Rio Olympics has been overwhelmingly run by the ministry . The ministry has taken over the functions of the NOC and often denied the body its rights and privileges. We have also gathered that some traditional functions of the NOC, like payment of allowances to athletes among others have been taken over by the ministry.

In the face of this, the NOC is like an orphan watching its role being hijacked by perhaps the only sports minister at the Games. Whisperers allegedly suggested that the ministry brought in as many as 35 associates, many whom are seen loitering the streets. A few of them seen at the airport in Johannesburg had difficulties with immigration officers in South Africa. They were only cleared when they dug into their bags to bring letters of introduction from the ministry. These associates were saved by he fact that the wrestling partners with the team had similar letters. Otherwise, they would have been prevented from traveling to São Paulo.

Costa, the Brazilian who does not believe in Neymar and co
Wellington Costa, 22 is a young Brazilian who lives in São Paulo. He boasts about bearing the same name with one of the world’s famous capital cities, Wellington, New Zealand. “My mother gave me the name and I am very proud of it,” the young man said, after realizing I was Nigerian.
Costa met us on the metro train heading to the Corinthians Stadium in São Paulo, where Nigeria played Colombia. Of course, he was rooting for Nigeria. He explained that his sentiments for Nigeria grew from watching Nigeria beat Brazil in the semi final of Atlanta ’96 Olympics. “I’ll never forget that team; Kanu, Okocha, Babangida, Babayaro, ……,” he kept reeling out names of players, who made up that great squad.

Costa was just 2, when Nigeria recorded that feat 20 years but with the help of modern technology, he is able to play back the match as many times as he wants. “I play against that Nigeria team on the play station,” he said.

When asked about the Brazilian soccer team at the ongoing Rio Olympics, Costa said he has not been convinced by their performance. “No, they are not good enough for a medal. The farthest they can go is, perhaps, the quarter finals.

“The team cannot win the tournament because they lack depth. They lack technique and passion to win.”

The young man said if by chance, his country’s team meet Nigeria, that would spell doom for the hosts. “They can’t beat Nigeria. You (Nigeria) have stronger players who are hungry. You also have more skillful players and a coach who has experience. He took your team to the final of the Beijing Olympics.”

He noted that though Brazil is a soccer-crazy nation, “We have not really been crazy about winning the Olympics. Clubs still prefer to keep their best players instead of releasing them to the Olympic team. Look at the present team, can this team win the tournament?” He asked, concluding, “I doubt.”

Jacob Ajom’s Random Jottings on Vanguard News.


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