In politics as in sports, Sunday Dare always chickens out 

An examination of Sunday Dare’s tenure as Sports Minister shows he normally starts well but his finishing is always poor

In politics as in sports, Sunday Dare always chickens out 
Sunday Dare

Sports Minister Sunday Dare has been gambling with our sports since his appointment in 2019. He did the same with his political career last week when he chickened out of the contest for Oyo APC gubernatorial candidate race the moment President Mahammandu Buhari asked all political appointees intending to contest in the 2023 election to resign OLUKAYODE THOMAS reports


A contestant in the Oyo State APC gubernatorial primaries for the 2019 gubernatorial election, it was an open secret among members of the sports family that Sports Minister Sunday Dare will try his luck again in 2023.

So members of the sports family were not surprised when reported Monday, May 9, 2022, that Dare was seen at the APC national secretariat to collect the party’s gubernatorial form after paying N50million. 

But last Wednesday, Dare’s gubernatorial dream died shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari ordered all his appointees who wished to contest in the 2023 general election to resign. 

Shortly after the order, Dare said in a statement, “The assignment given to me on behalf of the Nigerian people by President Muhammadu Buhari is a national and an important one for the development of our youth and sports”. With that statement, Dare chickened out from contesting the gubernatorial election.

But he did not just chicken, he attempted to insult our intelligence by claiming that he will reject calls to contest the APC gubernatorial or senatorial election.

So what took him to APC Secretariat? Courtesy call on party chairman? What did he pay for if not an expression of interest form? Probably he went to enrol for a political lesson.

 What has changed between Monday when he went to the APC Secretariat with a retinue of aides to collect forms, paid N50 million, and took photographs, and Wednesday when Buhari told all intending aspirants to resign? 

Dare probably realized he has zero chance of picking the APC ticket so he quickly chickened out.

But an examination of Dare’s tenure as Sports Minister shows he normally starts well but his finishing is always poor.

Poor finishing is a norm with Dare

When Dare became Sports Minister, the raging crisis was the World Athletics money misappropriated by the staff of the Ministry of Sports.

Dare promised to pay the money and save Nigeria from further embarrassment. He did pay the money but to date, those that misappropriated the money or stole the money have not been sanctioned.

 Paying the money without any form of punishment for those that stole the money portrays the minister as a poor finisher who is encouraging impunity. 

 At the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Dare took his endorsement of impunity to a higher level.

He condemned officials whose lapses ensured that 10 Nigerian athletes were disqualified from the games but to date officials that robbed the athletes of their chances of participating in the Olympics have not been sanctioned.

The ten disqualified 10 athletes carried placards around Tokyo protesting against Nigerian officials who refused to give them their Samsung S20+ 5G,  a souvenir organizer of the games gave all athletes. It took the intervention of the IOC, Samsung, and others before the athletes got their phones. 

Dare, a Minister in government that is preaching change has not deemed it worthy to punish the officials whose actions brought the international disgrace to Nigeria. 

Dare abhor drug cheats but chicken out when action is needed

In the last few years that Dare has been Sports Minister, the Ministry has done many campaigns against the use of performance-enhancing drugs by athletes but the Minister wine and dines with drug cheats. 

A few days ago, Dare attended the 2nd AFN Classic at Yaba College of Technology. Seated right behind the Minister was Chioma Ajunwa a former Olympics champion who has been banned from athletics after testing positive twice for performance-enhancing drugs.

Ajunwa’s first ban was in 1992 when she was banned for four years on the eve of the Barcelona ’92 Olympics.

Her second ban for another four years was on the eve of the Manchester 2002 Commonwealth Games therefore ineligible to attend or be near any athletics event organized in line with World Athletics rules and regulations. 

At the hearing, before her second ban Ajunwa was represented by Festus Keyamo and members of the panel that banned Ajunwa for life included Akin Amao, a medical doctor, Femi Ayorinde, and Simon Ebohjaiye the secretary of the panel is still a staff of the ministry. 

After the ban Ajunwa left athletics completely for Chess. She represented Rivers State in Chess at the FCT 2004 National Sports Festival. When AFP asked her in an interview on May 14, 2004, why she took up competitive Chess she replied. “Life has to go on.”  

But since Dare became Sports Minister drug cheats have been moved from the backstage to the high table. When Dare was naming 60 sports icons for Nigeria at 60 the first two names on the list, Ajunwa and Mary Onyali, have been banned for taking performance-enhancing drugs during their career so they can’t be icons.

Ego over national interest

Basketball is going down today because the marriage that started well between Musa Kida and Dare has gone sour. There has been accusation and counter-accusation of under-the-table financial dealing. As things stand, Dare has put the basketball federation in a dipper mess than he met it.

Dare had a similar problem with Ibrahim Gusau of AFN. He was so desperate to remove Gusau that he went and exhumed Olamide George a man the Sports Ministry branded a drug cheat without trial. 

The Sports Minister also disregarded two court orders, one from a High Court and an Appeal Court that affirmed Gusau as the authentic president of AFN then, Badminton has not enjoyed unity since Dare became Minister.

Good at making promises bad at fulfilling

Dare can make promises but he chickens out when it comes to redeeming them. His pledge to Team Nigeria athletes that did the nation proud at the 2021 World Athletics U-20 World Championship in Nairobi Kenya last year. Several pleas in public and private by the athletes have fallen on deaf ears. 

The athletes achieved our best performance in the World Athletics Under-20 Championships, they finished third on the overall medals table. They won four gold and three bronze medals.

Dare announced cash awards of $5000 for Gold, $3000 for Silver, and $2000 for Bronze medals but he chicken out when it was time to redeem the promise.

Dare’s Policies legacy

With a few months to the end of his tenure, Dare needs to reinvent himself.  Those that are saying ‘continue dancing we behind you’ today will from May 30, 2023, be saying, ‘that man, he was too stubborn, he will never take advice’.