Hey, would you like a passport in 24 hours to compete for Nigeria? Apparently we’re giving them out to anyone who’ll accept the offer…

The African Championships rounded up on Thursday night, and the big surprise for Nigeria fans during the week-long competition was the sudden appearance of new girl Lindsay Weyinme in Green-White-Green of Team Naija. We caught up with her after the 100m Hurdles final where she finished 4th, and this is what she had to say about how she was recruited to Team Nigeria (captured on camera by AthleticsAfrica):


Following the National Trials in Calabar, where we extensively covered the appearance of the newly recruited Americans to Team Nigeria, we asked the most pertinent question that arose – whether they should even have received Green Passport in the first place, given that Nigeria citizenship law clearly states that one must have at least ONE Nigerian parent to naturalise, if you were not born in Nigeria. Never in the history of Nigeria has any foreigner EVER received the passport because their great-grandparent or great-great grandparent was Nigerian, as some of them have claimed is their link to Nigeria.

All of this makes Weyinme’s claim as to how she got the Nigerian Passport even more startling. Is there any country in the whole world where you can become a citizen because your UNCLE MARRIED someone from that country? Not you, but your uncle? It’s such brazen disregard for Nigerian Law that one can only assume this young lady and her ‘Naijamerican’ colleagues have been rather misinformed and ill-advised in this whole situation.

Let’s not even get into the fact that she did not even attend the Nigerian Trials so her selection on the team is a big surprise, to say the least. This is the same situation with Robert Simmons, who also did not attend the trials, and has done little to justify his inclusion on the team, after not finishing his 400m race at the Commonwealth Games, and false starting earlier this week at these African Championships. The integrity of our whole selection process is at stake here.

It did not take long for more news on Wenyime’s background to emerge in online fan forums in Nigeria. It turns out that her real name is Lindsay Lindley, and it is likely that she was given the name Weyinme during the process of naturalising. Interestingly, the other Americans recruited to Team Nigeria have been given Delta middle names, such as Mark ‘Amuju’ Jelks, Monzavous ‘Jolomi’ Edwards, Tyron ‘Toritseju’ Akins, and so on.

They are all set to represent Delta State at the upcoming National Sports Festival, which just happens to be the first National Sports Festival that is open to foreign-based Nigerians, a classification which they now fall under. Which begs the question – is their recruitment really about making Team Nigeria better, or is it about Delta State winning the National Sports Festival? What becomes of them after the Festival? Only time will tell.

One thing is certain – it is very IMPORTANT that Nigerians do NOT direct any ill-feelings towards these athletes, who are merely embracing an opportunity that has been accorded them to advance their careers as Nigerians. What’s done is done, so they should be supported for whatever time they have left as Team Nigeria athletes (the majority of them are over 30), BUT as a people we need to make sure that we protect the integrity of the Nigerian passport, and what it means to represent this great nation – our immigration services has clearly dropped the ball here.

What’s next if we don’t close the loop on this? Someone will say their friend’s sister’s aunty-in-law is Nigerian and that’s how they got the passport? Essentially, almost anybody in the world can get a Nigerian passport in 24 hours to compete for us. You would think that this MIGHT be acceptable if we were talking about world-class, exceptional talents, but so far they have not improved Team Nigeria – at the Commonwealth Games only one of the recruits got a RELAY medal, while at these African Championships only one of them got an individual GOLD, which we still would have won anyway if they were not there, as we swept all the medals in that event. We even lost our Continental Crown to South Africa, winning only 8 gold medals this time around, as opposed to 10 in Porto Novo 2 years ago!

When all is said and done, this is not even about the recruits, and we want to re-iterate that we harbour no ill-feelings towards them, and we will celebrate whatever medals they can win for Team Nigeria at any level. What this is really about is how we see ourselves as a nation and a people. We need now to look deeply within, at our system, to make sure that born and bred Nigerians get the SAME opportunities, SAME privileges, and SAME funding as the American Recruits, because if that were to happen, Nigeria WILL surpass Jamaica & USA as the dominant force in World Athletics. It would only be a matter of time. Watch this space.

Bambo Akani is the Founder and CEO of Making of Champions (MoC). He is an avid sports writer and photo-blogger, and has quickly become an internationally recognized Athletics Expert. He appeared in a new weekly Athletics segment on the Sports Tonight Show on Channels TV during the 2014 Athletics season and has also appeared on Jamaican Television and Radio to discuss the MoC "The History" Film that he Produced and Directed, and to review and analyse key events in world athletics.Bambo holds an MEng and BA in Chemical Engineering from Cambridge University in the UK and an MBA from Kellogg School of Management in the US.


  1. First of all, let me just say a big thank you to making of champions for providing a good coverage of the African championship. Well done and keep up the good work. Secondly, I know this athletes did well for Nigeria and gave their best in both the common wealth games and African championship, apart from blessing okagbare, brume, abugan, and a few throwers. How many athletes based in Nigeria won a medal. Most medalist so were all Nigerians that couldn’t make the American or British team, Tosin Oke, Gloria asunmu, al ameen, seye ogunlewe, they saw an opportunity to make the nigerian team and they took it, same thing with this Americans they av come to help and make Nigeria more competitive, there’s nothing wrong with what they are doing, we have lost samuel Francis, Francis obikwelu, and other top nigerian athletes who were born and raised to Nigeria to other countries, even Kenyans run for turkey now, people bend their ways so that they can win. So I see no problem with it. As a fan of track and field, I know that 30s are the new 20s, reasons being there are more consistent and they been through it all, justin gatlin, tyson gay, Dwain chambers, Kim Collins are still defeating the younger boys. I can never trust divine oduduru, he’s not consistent enough, I knew he was going to do well in the final because he wasn’t prepared enough, he competed in 3 major events in less than a month, and you expect him to win a medal it’s impossible, if he was smart he would av saved up energy in that first heat. If I was in charge of the athletics team, I will make sure I recruit every young nigerian in American and British universities before they make it to the national teams, e.g James dasolu, Chidi ujah, David bolarinwa. For example the NCAA outdoors this year, in the women’s catergory they are up to three Nigerians that made the final of both the 100m and 200m.
    Let’s be honest most Nigerians don’t care about athletics, all they care about is football, if they did Nigeria would be competing with Jamaica and USA.
    I don’t think the home based athletes are bothered about it, bcos if they were they would av done something. What Nigeria should replicate is the South African system, they are producing more athlete than ever

    • Timmy your argument I am afraid is invalid and contradictory. How did we produce our world class athletes in the psst? Chidi Imo,Innocent Egbunike,Mary Onyali,the Ezenwa brothers,oOpade Adenike,etc? These athletes were discovered from the junior competitions and got scholarships into American Universities where their talents were honed.
      It is not like we are very efficient at doing things.Which parent would release his/her little child to come to Nigeria? Do you know how much is involved? You assume too that the money would always be there to keep them happy and focused.Why can’t we harness our own talents as a nation? You seem to conclude that our athletes back home are lazy and lacking in aspiration. They lack funds and facilities -inspiration.They lack qualified coaches. It is a case of the harvest is plentiful but the labourers are few.
      Buying foreign athletes is counter productive and portrays us in bad light.

      • I definitely believe in the talents in Nigeria, i plan to one day invest in the talents in Nigeria, what we need right now, is for Nigerians to come together both home and the ones in diaspora

        Our athletes are not growing, our coaches are not growing. nothing is working well, that’s why the AFN guys are doing anything to make sure success comes quickly. their contracts wants them to bring results. and if they are no results they lose their jobs. look at the Nigerian football federation.

        The main problem s that Nigerians are not patient enough, Jamaica were patient, and now they are enjoying it.

    • Timmy, thank you for your comments on our coverage of the African Championships! It was a privilege to provide that service, and we hope to continue bringing you Team Nigeria news live and direct at future competitions!

      You say Nigerians don’t care about athletics – the main reason they don’t is because athletes in Nigeria at not treated well, and because we don’t WIN. If we became as good as Jamaica and USA, then trust me, the whole country would be interested. But for that to happen, we need to SYSTEMATICALLY INVEST in Athletics in Nigeria, and not try to buy instant success from abroad.

      With regards to Divine, you should understand that he is still young, so you can’t expect him to instantly win senior medals just because he won a World Junior Silver last month. Patience is key with developing athletes.

      Contrary to what you say, home-based athletes don’t really have a voice or the power to do anything about their situation. They need the support that they’re not getting right now…

    • It’s not that the homebased nigerians are not bothered about it, it is the fact that there is no facilities to adequately train them and their future always looks bleak, blessing is not based in nigeria anymore, she has lived in the us for years and is being trained by john smith. i don’t know what nigerians are worried about, to add to your list, gloria aluzie also left nigeria to run for spain, she didn’t even have a spanish uncle, if only we could develop our athletics, we would be competing with jamaica and usa

  2. The issue of the speed the passports were issued is not surprising.It is a non-issue really. The issue of citizenship raises some questions. It would appear their cases were considered differently and were fast tracked pleading National interest,the Common Good and what is beneficial to the country. At face value our citizenship law appears to have been breached but i am inclined to believe that they were not. It is not written anywhere that ONLY persons with paternal and or maternal links that can be considered qualified to be Nigerian citizens. Glory Alozie, Francis Obikwelu,etc are Nigerians who became citizens of Spain and Portugal respectively. The obstacle they contended with was the period of eligibility before they could transfer their allegiance from Nigeria to these countries. They stayed out of competitions for Nigeria for these periods before they started competing for their new countries.
    It would appear because these American former athletes are not notable athletes the rules were relaxed for them by the IOC and IAAF. Francis Obikwelu was legally resident in Portugal for a while after he defected during the World Juniors there. Glory Alozie also resided in Spain to become qualified under their citizenship Act.At any event,there is a fast track for becoming citizens in these countries and the procedures are well spelt out.
    I do not think these Americans resided here for the requisite duration.They continue to be dual citizens of both countries. The real issue to be tackled here is the relevance of their participation in a National Sports Festival essentially meant for talent hunting.
    The huge investment in what essentially is a developmental fraud,flaw and waste should be condemned.The funds should have been better utilised on home based athletes who have cried and complained of neglect and discriminatory funding.

    • Orode, all very well said sir. Imagine the impact if the funding spent on just one of the recruits was invested into the sport at home? It could easily support the careers of up to 10 home-based athletes!

      • at this stage we need results , not training, there is a place and time for training and that was not effectively done, it would be technically unwise to now put the money meant to generate results into training . Just the way you have academic training is the way students are supposed to the training in sports, that is the function of the ministry of youth development, at the point of the games, we needed athletes that could produce results.

  3. I appreciate this blog, and the efforts you guys make to bring athletics news to Nigerians. But I think this riposte on the so-called Naija Americans, as your blogs has cheekily labelled the new recruits, was written in bad faith. It is wrong on many levels. Many Nigerians live abroad and have naturalized as citizens of other countries for one reason or the other. Sometimes they marry foreigners and become citizens. Sometimes they are recruited as sportsmen through a fast-tracked naturalization process, remember Obikwelu, Alozie, and Igali? to mention a few. A Nigerian, who has American citizenship, uses his or her new status to work and fend for his or her own interest. How are they different from the likes of Jelks and others. How would it look, if at any opportunity, journalists are asking them how they became Nigerians? Because this is what you have been doing: asking these new Nigerians how they became Nigerians? You have not spent time to ask them about their form, records, or what they hope to bring to Nigerian athletics, but you are questioning their heritage. Even they are furthering their careers by running for Nigeria, what is wrong with that? How are they different from a Nigerian banker in New york with an American passport? Mikel Obi is about to get a British passport that will help his work chances in the EU zone, yet he is playing football for Nigeria. How is he different from Mark Jelks? What about Nigerians that get foreign passports through dubious means, so that they live and work in their naturalized countries? Everyone in this world is trying to further their interests in one way or the other.

    Second, All black people in America, Canada, and Britain are of African heritage, descendants of slaves who were carted away by force to another continent. If 1 out of every black people in the world are Nigerians, then they can rightly claim their heritage to Nigeria. What is wrong if they decide to come back and trace their roots. White people that are citizens of African countries e.g. South Africa and Zimbabwe are allowed a fast-track naturalization process back to their countries of heritage at any time of the choosing. When ANC took power in 1994, most South African-born white people left in droves Holland, England, Germany and India. No one asked them how they became English or Dutch. A clear example is that of Petersen, the South African born English cricketer, who was given a fast-tracked British Citizenship because of a fuzzy-line of English heritage that he claimed.

    You may not realize it, but what you are promoting in this essay is close to zenophobia. You refer to Lindsay Weyinme and others who adopted Nigerian names,do you know how difficult it is, psychologically, for anyone to change their name, their identity? Those of us who live abroad are sometimes forced to change our names to fit into the context. By that singular act, these new Nigerians have pledged their loyalty to their new country. Black people deal with racism every day in America, a county they were taken to by force and in chains. We should welcome those that have come back. They are our long lost brothers. We should not be questioning their heritage. All these rubbish about passports is not worth breaking our heads over. Besides, it is a sign of reverse migration, long predicted, that black people will one day return to their roots. Right now, they are Nigerians, not hyphenated Nigerians. Please treat them with respect. Today, they may be returning for athletics. Tomorrow, they will be returning for peace of mind or to get a sense of belonging.

    • You say that the recruits changing their names shows that they pledge their allegiance to ‘their new country’ Nigeria. How many of them will reside in Nigeria after these championships is over? How many of them will ever visit Nigeria after their running career is over?

      Also your comparison of Mikel Obi to Mark Jelks is misguided because Mikel is truly a dual citizen as he lives in England for most of the year as well as being a born Nigerian. If he has kids his kids would most likely be British but also Nigerian. This is the same as the everyday hard working Nigerian who got a green card so that they could immigrate and improve their life. I highly doubt that Mark Jelks has even spent up to 3 weeks of his life in Nigeria nor his parents. Being a citizen of a country has to mean that you are a member of that society (i.e learning the language, paying taxes, ACTUALLY RESIDING THERE).

      In the case of footballers, cricketers, etc., they are naturalizing to their new countries while these recruits are claiming heritage. The fact that you are mentioning migration in your argument shows that these heritage claims are sketchy at best. If you have heritage then you have been a citizen all along and there’s no need to migrate anywhere. Who your uncle married doesn’t change what your nationality is.

      With all this being said, there is no animosity towards the athletes because they did what they had to do but all I’m saying that this is a really slippery slope that won’t end well if AFN is not careful.

      • M.O – all very well said. I could not have put it better, particularly this – “With all this being said, there is no animosity towards the athletes because they did what they had to do but all I’m saying that this is a really slippery slope that won’t end well if AFN is not careful.”

      • There is nothing that is going to happen, we nigerians are just naturally very skeptical to new things, by the way, these guys would have lived in Nigeria , if nigeria was not the glorified village that it is, only abuja in Nigeria looks like a civilized city and most of them are in school abroad or have their coaches abroad. I wish christine ohorugu and others would run for nigeria.

    • Simi, thanks for all your comments. I am the author of this post and the Founder of Making of Champions. I just got back from Morocco and I’m going to do my best to address all the concerns that you have aired in your responses. Firstly, let me assure you that this was not written in bad faith. As a matter of fact, I have wrestled deeply with breaking this story since it happened on Wednesday. Ultimately, we felt that it was in the best interest of Nigerians for the issues discussed within to be brought to our collective national consciousness.

      We said it in the article, and I’ll say it again. We harbour absolutely no ill feeling towards these athletes. But that should not detract from the fact that no proper process has been followed in this matter. Unfortunately, we may be used to not doing things properly in Nigeria, else you would not compare what is happening here to Nigerians who go abroad, and through abiding with the laws of that nation (often for many years) and living there are granted residency and then nationality (such as Mikel Obi whom you mention). Nor would you compare this to the cases of people like Obikwelu and Alozie, who were living is Portugal & Spain for many years, before they obtained there passports and switched allegiances. Even if there is a fast-track process in Nigeria – has it been followed? You seem completely unconcerned with the fact that Nigerian laws can be completely disregarded in this matter.

      Secondly, I would urge you to put the “all black people come from Africa” argument to bed right now. It simply doesn’t hold any water in the discussion regarding how anyone can acquire a new nationality. By your argument, any African American has equal rights to a Nigerian passport as Nigerians do. Please, don’t let your personal sentiments on the issue get in the way of addressing the facts.

      Finally, there is nothing remotely xenophobic about the story. There is no unreasonable fear of the foreign here. There are serious repercussions for setting such precedents for giving out Nigerian passports to anyone and everyone, and it should be nipped in the bud. Like we said in the story, what’s done is done, so we will not begrudge these athletes the opportunity they’ve been given to represent Nigeria, but that does not mean that we support the practice to continue.

      I fully understand what you say about the psychology of the athletes, and how this story may affect them. You may not believe it, but I do actually sympathise with them. They are trying to do what’s best for their careers and simply accepted the offer to run for Nigeria, and now all this wahala. But I also sympathise with the plight of Nigerian athletes, who are being treated like second-class citizens in their own country. Perhaps you should look deeper at how the presence of the Americans is pyschologically affecting hundreds of athletes in Nigeria. Perhaps then, we should have a follow-up conversation about this. I’d implore you to take some time to really assess the impact of this on the born and bred Nigerian athletes – I think if you understood exactly how they are being denied any opportunity for development, and how poorly they are treated compared to the Americans, you just might see the other POV on this matter.

      Again, we fully realised in breaking the stories around this issue, that these athletes were not going to like it – a few of them have expressed that much to me personally already. Some understand that we’re just trying to do our job as sports media professionals, but we are very aware that they will not be our biggest fans by any stretch of the imagination. My challenge to them will be to show Nigerians, through their words and actions, that their presence is actually a positive thing for Nigerian Athletics, and not a hindrance!

  4. I think this article does the poor girl a great disservice because it portrays her as a cheat. She is running in Nigerian colours and she deserves some commendation for such a courageous move. I wouldn’t like to be treated in this way if I am competing for my adopted country.

    • Yes, you are right that this is certainly not the type of attention she’d like, but I would not say that it portrays her as a cheat. As we mentioned in the story, she must have been misinformed or misled into believing that was a reasonable or valid way to get Nigerian citizenship. She’s clearly been told not to worry and it would all be sorted out for her.

    • I can see exactly where the author of this article is coming from. As a Nigerian citizen, I cannot get my passport within a day without bribing some at the Immigration and Passport office in Ikoyi. However, an athlete who needs to run for Nigeria may be classed as a more urgent case and can get her passport ready within 24 hours. The blame should not be apportioned to her but to those who have abused our systems and procedures to the extent that they work better for people perceived as foreigners rather than people perceived to be local.

      No athlete should represent Nigeria without qualifying via national selection events via merit allocations. Allocation of places via wildcards should only be permitted for non participants where the non-participating recipient is established as a genuine contender via recent performance and is unavailable to compete due to injury or illness.

      I have no problems with athletes born outside Nigeria choosing to nationalise and represent us. I just think that the short term approach to identifying someone already at the required level rather than supporting a Nigerian – based athlete with suitable funding or assisting their development via foreign athletic scholarships may win some medals in the short term but do nothing to improve the health of the athletics sector in the long term. We need to focus more on long term solutions and while it would not be right to blame or attack athletes who have chosen to represent us, this is not a sustainable approach to developing athletics in Nigeria.

      • OMG! Where is the like button on this blog thingy! I want to click it like 15 times for this response. Very well said Eccentrik.. if I could, I would buy u 15 zobo (and 1 kunu) and this response… very well said.

  5. This is a PHD (pull her down) article and in bad taste. When has it become a crime to switch allegiances? Full blooded Nigerians switch to Qatar, Portugal, Spain overnight and their citizens don’t ask ‘gotcha’ questions like this one. The bottom-line is they’ve switched allegiance to Nigeria. Period.

    In the same vein, the athletes dont need to create stories about marrying in. Bottom-line is they’ve switched allegiance and its up to us to either support them when they run for us, or keep disparaging them with articles like this.

    After all, the medals they won for us is attributed to NIGERIA and not to the US. The witch-hunting of these athletes by this blog’s got to stop. Its actually funny that after writing this article that can only generate ill-feelings, the author is asking Nigerians not to direct any ill-feelings towards these athletes. Haba!

    • All things Nigerian, there is a very good reason we state in the article not to direct ill-feelings TOWARDS THE ATHLETES, but I believe that you may have missed that point. It is the SYSTEM that you should be questioning. This story is not about the athletes at all, and there is certainly no witch-hunt here. It is about Nigeria and the pride of a nation of 170 million people and protecting the value and integrity of what it means to be Nigerian, which we believe is more important than whether the feelings of these handful of athletes are hurt by Nigerians hearing about this very important story.

      There is no crime in switching allegiances at all, but you seem unconcerned by the notion that Nigeria’s laws or any form of established due process do not need to be followed, as they are in other countries. Just to set you straight, Obikwelu and Alozie did not switch to Portugal and Spain OVERNIGHT – they had lived in those countries for many years, and abided by the laws and due process prevailing in those countries for obtaining citizenship.

  6. This is a PHD (pull her down) article and in bad taste. When has it become a crime to switch allegiances? Full blooded Nigerians switch to Qatar, Portugal, Spain overnight and their citizens don’t ask ‘gotcha’ questions like this one. The bottom-line is they’ve switched allegiance to Nigeria. Period.

    In the same vein, the athletes dont need to create stories about marrying in. Bottom-line is they’ve switched allegiance and its up to us to either support them when they run for us, or keep disparaging them with articles like this.

    After all, the medals they won for us is attributed to NIGERIA and not to the US. The witch-hunting of these athletes by this blog’s got to stop. Its actually funny that after writing this article that can only generate ill-feelings, the author is asking Nigerians not to direct any ill-feelings towards these athletes. Haba!

    • BigK2008, thanks for following our stories here and on Cybereagles. There is a very good reason we state in the article not to direct ill-feelings TOWARDS THE ATHLETES, but I believe that you may have missed that point. It is the SYSTEM that you should be questioning. This story is not about the athletes at all, and there is certainly no witch-hunt here. It is about Nigeria and the pride of a nation of 170 million people and protecting the value and integrity of what it means to be Nigerian, which we believe is more important than whether the feelings of these handful of athletes are hurt by Nigerians hearing about this very important story.

      There is no crime in switching allegiances at all, but you seem unconcerned by the notion that Nigeria’s laws or any form of established due process do not need to be followed, as they are in other countries. Just to set you straight, Obikwelu and Alozie did not switch to Portugal and Spain OVERNIGHT – they had lived in those countries for many years, and abided by the laws and due process prevailing in those countries for obtaining citizenship.

  7. The case against them participating in the sports festival is rather biased and far-fetched. First, I very much doubt that they would be motivated to fly down to Nigeria for an unrated event like the sport festival. Flights and hotels are costly. And all for what? As someone who has competed twice at the National Sports Festival, I have to honestly say that it is an amateurish event, poorly organized, and should not be taken seriously. Second, even if they participate, the so-called raw talents will benefit from competing against superior athletes. There is a reason why records are broken in finals — take for example the Olympic 100m finals. It is because of the quality of the competition. The so-called raw talents will have the exposure of running against quality opposition. It is just like playing football with or against Messi. From a psychology perspective, it can teach an upcoming athlete a great deal. It will also create an opportunity for networking and mentorship. So, even if they compete, they are helping to develop the so-called raw talents.

    • On the Festival issue – the question you should ask is this: what incentives are they getting to compete at the National Sports Festival? Do you really think they foot their own travel and accommodation bills when they come down to Nigeria?

      As amateurish as you believe the Sports Festival might be, there is a lot of money involved in it, and the some states actually pay decent money to athletes whom they thing can help them win…

      In a world where home-based athletes received the same support and funding as the Americans, perhaps their presence could propel the home-based to greater heights. But it’s far from a level playing field.

      Networking and mentorship can only happen if the new recruits actually spend a decent amount of time in Nigeria to pass on their knowledge to the home-based. The onus is on them to prove that their presence will make Nigerian Athletes better….

  8. I actually agree with one thing though – If they did not participate in Nigerian trials, then they should not have qualified to fly our flag in Glasgow or Marakech

  9. Thank you bigk2008.

    Evil thrives when good people keep quiet. I read and watched some of the interviews conducted by this blog with the people they branded Naija-Americans and it just looks like a criminal prosecution cross-examination. It seems like they are gathering evidence (example Monzavous counting his fingers to prove his heritage). Lazy journalism, to say the least. Why do you have to put them through such interrogation? A typical PHD syndrome that is prevalent in Nigeria. It is pathetic, really. I shudder to think of how I would feel if citizens of my adopted country keep asking me how I changed my status. Like you said, the medals are for NIGERIA.

    • There is nothing evil here, and it’s not a PHD syndrome either. We’re actually shedding much needed LIGHT on Nigerian Athletics, and unfortunately it’s not all pretty. You may not like everything you see or read here, but really don’t shoot the messenger. You may think that it is lazy, pathetic journalism now, but not for long, I hope. As you learn and read more, hopefully you’ll begin to realise where this is all going. The Making of Champions MOVEMENT is gathering pace.

      If you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. We’ve made our stance on this issue pretty clear, and we’ve decided not to keep quiet about it because it is of National Importance. We believe that our actions and words are for the GOOD of Nigeria, and I believe history will prove or disprove that. Remember this conversation well. Let’s revisit it at the end of the year, in a year’s time, and so on. Everything will become much clearer very soon!

  10. Yes, I agree with the argument against smuggling people in through the back door. That should have been the main theme of the article, not the nationality issue. If they don’t compete in the trials, then they shouldn’t be allowed to run in the main events.

    • well spoken simi and bigk2008, i dont know the rules for selecting participant in Nigeria, but for the British the first two in trials automatically get picked, then the selectors pick the last participant. may be Nigeria are using the same process.

  11. QUOTE: “Essentially, almost anybody in the world can get a Nigerian passport in 24 hours to compete for us.” – Amazing! Even we, born and raised Nigerians can’t get this.. SMH

  12. bambostic,

    Thank you for taking the time to respond to our comments. It is good that we are having this discussion and that you have given everyone a chance to air their views.

    As I said in my first post, I appreciate the blog. I only discovered it last week when I was desperately searching for news from Marrakech. I follow your twitter channel and it was indeed a wonderful discovery. So my first impression was very good.

    That said, I have worked as a journalist and I have also been an athlete. I criticized this article from both viewpoints. My first concern is the lazy and unethical journalism that was displayed. In this day and age such parochial reporting is no longer in vogue.

    In your response, you try to present yourself as a watchdog for Nigerian athletics. It’s really a niche market at the moment, and I have no problem with that. My only concern is that you do your job professionally and objectively. Lack of objectivity in journalism is inciting and leaves a poor taste in the mouth. You may have had good intentions; but your article reads more like a shoddy, hatchet job. I am sure you’d rather be seen as ‘watch-dogging’ rather than ‘witch-hunting’. I have outlined a number of issues with this article from the perspective of ethical and professional journalism:

    1. Asking the athletes leading questions, repeatedly. I followed the different interviews of Jelks, Edwards, and Lindsay etc. posted on this blog and the same line of questioning was used. Why are you choosing to focus on only their citizenship if you are not biased? Don’t we, the readers, have a right to know other things about our new athletes?

    2. Ignoring other facts and issues that could be discussed in the interview. For example, you post a link to Lindsay Weyinme, which has other information about her. But what you actually choose to highlight was the fact that she changed her name. You are portraying her as a fraud. If you google Lindsay Weyinme’s name, the first thing that comes up is your article. What impression do you think people, potential sponsors will have of her?

    3. Not making any attempt to speak to anyone from AFN. What if this is a new policy they are pursuing? Even if they refuse to speak to you, you can at least report that you made an attempt to speak to them.

    4. Not making any attempt to interview anyone from the Nigeria Immigration Office. Like someone said in the thread, there may be compelling arguments in the interest of our country for these athletes to be given a fast-tracked naturalization.

    5. Speculating, in a skewed fashion, on how Lindsay Weyenmi may have obtained her Nigerian passport (if you were working in a proper newspaper office, this could expose your organization to a damaging libel suit).

    6. Very unprofessional headline, the stuff of tabloids, aiming for cheap sensationalism. This was how News of the World used to report their news. Little wonder they were shut down.

    7. Hyphenating the citizenship of the new athletes by calling them “Naija Americans”. This is really bad, and you are no better than conceited journalists and politicians in the U.S who refer to black people as “African-Americans”. A more professional way of addressing them, if you really want to go down that route, would be as “American born Nigerian athletes”.

    8. Not interviewing any of the coaches to get a balanced opinion on how the Lindsay was selected. From what Timmy said, the coaches may be able to nominate a wildcard.

    9. Expressing an opinion in the article: telling your readers to focus on this and not focus on that. This one is funny. It is like someone who throws a fire bomb into a market place and then starts pouring water on the fire, telling people not to run. If you actually wrote your article objectively, then you should trust your readers to make up their minds and come to their own conclusions.

    • Hi Simi,

      firstly great response. Many thanks for appreciating the blog, and I hope what you view as shoddy journalism doesn’t put you off from following us, because we have lots of fresh, exciting new content in the coming months.

      Again, very comprehensive response. I’ll do my best to respond to your comments.

      1. The choice to focus mostly on their citizenship is not bias. This is the main story here. This has never happened in Nigeria before (giving passports to athletes with little or no connection to the country). The people around them had not really sensitized them to the possible reception they could get in Nigeria, and it showed in some of their initial responses, where some questions about their heritage or links to Nigeria were treated almost as a joke. That’s already changing as you’ll see in the coming days. Of course you do have a right to know other things about them, and you will. We will do our part in sharing.

      2. Again – we have not portrayed her as a fraud. She has said something which has been caught on camera which shows very little understanding of Nigerian citizenship law – this is down to bad counsel more than anything else.

      On 3 & 4 – fair points. We have not sought to speak directly to the AFN or the Nigerian Immigration Office on this matter. We will endeavour to do so. That said, as a former athlete yourself, you should be able to discern from all the information provided and your knowledge of the sport if there are indeed compelling arguments in the interest of our country for their naturalization to be fast-tracked.

      5. There was no speculation at all. Did you watch the video included in the story where she mentions that she got the nationality through her uncle who married in?

      6. Sensational perhaps, but there is nothing unprofessional or untrue about the headline. The intention was to elicit the kind of discussion on this issue that we are having right now.

      7. African American is a term widely used to refer to blacks in America, which I believe does not hold any negative connotation. That said, I believe your feeling about the term ‘Naijamerican’ is that it does hold some kind of negative connotation? It’s a term someone else coined in discussion this issue that we’ve adopted…we’ll re-assess our use of the term. Thank you for pointing that out.

      8. Fair point again. These wildcards can and do happen in most countries, but they should be communicated, as opposed to athletes no one has ever heard of just showing up in the team after not having attended the trials.

      9. Your final point is an interesting one, and the answer lies in this – where do we draw the line between traditional journalism and blogging, where expressing opinions are very much part and parcel of what makes any blog relevant? Part of the relevance of this blog is to educate our readers on the sport, so expressing our opinions is very important. That said, your feedback is extremely invaluable, and tells me that perhaps soon we will need to separate our journalism and blogging functions unto 2 different platforms, so that one knows exactly what they are getting with each one!

      Thanks for taking your time to outline your grievances with the article. We appreciate your feedback.

  13. Nigeria is a funny country..We believe anyone who has something to offer can become a Nigerian overnight. Well, that’s cool but what goes around comes around. Hope we don’t regret this in the nearest future

  14. Who ever came up with this petty article is just so ignorant of the fact that Mo-Fara was not born in Britain neigther in america but guess which country he competes for. Nigerian athletes have also naturalised in countries like Spain and Qatar yet not been born over there. i believe this is one of those things written to under mine the integrity of nigeria and Nigerians but we know best that all your efforts will get no where. She is a Nigerian how ever she gained it it and if you were smatter you would have kept her withing the athletic Team of the US which has already been soiled with drug infested athletes. lol we have seen how all your medals in the past olympics have been withdrawn.

    Nigeria is the best for her and thats what she wants so be it

  15. Hi Bambostic,

    You sound like a patriot. I appreciate your willingness to engage with critical views. This debate is good, really good. And I hope we can all come away from it more enlightened. You responded intelligently to my comments on the journalistic flaws in your article. Now I will speak from the point of view of athletes, coaches and administrators.

    You asked for a compelling reason for a fast-tracked naturalization process for the athletes, right? Please check out this link: http://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/feds-urged-to-fast-track-ping-pong-athlete-s-citizenship-1.1225412

    You can see that Eugene Zhen Wang, a top-ranked Chinese table tennis player, become a Canadian citizen through a fast-tracked process after the Canadian Olympic committee made a case for him. This is similar to what is happening now with the likes of Jelks et al.
    Zhe Wang went to the Olympics and competed under a Canadian flag. There is a picture in your blog of Monzavous and Jelks raising the Nigerian flag after the 100m final in Marrakech. So that’s a clear precedence for you. What can be more compelling than that? They were competing for Nigeria. They were in Marrakech in Nigeria’s interest. It is quite symbolic, when they raised our country’s flag, they were fighting for the country that gave them the platform to run.

    You will also find that several things are considered when countries decide to waive the residency requirements, for example: athletes have to train in different countries where they have access to good training facilities; athletes are constantly travelling to compete in different meets around the world. So it would not be possible for them to meet the residency requirements in many cases. We both know that we don’t have good training facilities in Nigeria. For example, Okagbare does not currently reside in Nigeria. She has a US college scholarship where she trains at and runs for the school.

    You tried to make an argument that the arrival of these new athletes will restrict the opportunities to discover new talents and refine raw talents. That’s all well and good. But the reality is different. And the reality is that officials and coaches in sports commissions have short life spans and they are all under pressure to produce results quickly. The fans don’t have the patience to groom a local talent. Does Wenger ring a bell? Mourinho has to win a major trophy this season or else he will get fired. This is the same fate that awaits all the coaches and officials at AFN.

    I also find it funny the way people bandy the phrase ‘Let’s develop our local talent’ around as if it is an abstract term. What does it take to develop a talent? Where is the talent? What if there is no talent? What if the talent does not want to be developed? What if the talent is not good enough? If Obinna Metu and Oghene were so good, why did they allow Jelks to beat him at the trials?

    You might not be used to it, but I know that this kind thing happens all the time. Even at the level of National Sports festival athletes switch allegiance all the time. On the two occasions I participated, I competed for two different states. At the beginning of sports festivals you will find coaches with plenty of coach shopping for athletes to compete for their states. It happens everywhere in the world. People are looking for quick solutions.

    Back to the issue of Weyenmi, in your cross-examination, she said her uncle ‘married in’. And you gleefully went to town to with it, because, as the prosecuting counsel, you have found the damaging evidence you have been looking for in all your interviews with the new Nigerian athletes. Your article is based on speculation because you don’t know if her uncle is a Nigerian who married into an American family. Do you know if she was formally adopted by her uncle? What is also on trial here is your blog’s knowledge of Nigerian nationality law. Jelks says his granpa is from Nigeria. Can you prove otherwise? That alone qualifies him for citizenship according to section 25b which states that “every person whose parents or any of whose grandparents is a citizen of Nigeria”.

    In the same law, section 27d and 27e allows naturalization for anyone that is:
    (d) in the opinion of the Governor of the State where he is or he proposes to be resident, acceptable to the local community in which he is to live permanently, and has been assimilated into the way of life of Nigerians in that part of the Federation;
    (e) he is a person who has made or is capable of making useful contribution to the advancement; progress and well-being of Nigeria;

    If the Governor of Delta and other stakeholders in Nigerian athletics state deems it satisfactory that these athletes can make a useful contribution to the advancement, progress and well-being of Nigeria through sports, they can be granted citizenship. It seems that this is the case for most of the athletes who are coming through Delta state. . You seem to imply your dissatisfaction with their recruitment at every opportunity? For example, you dubiously refer to their Nigerian middle names in quotation marks, Mark “Amuju” Jelks. By this token, you are already suggesting that there is something fishy going on here, casting doubts on their citizenship. Do you have a proof or right to question their nationality now that they are equal citizens like you? Until you present proof that counters their claims, as ridiculous as they may sound, then you shouldn’t be casting aspersions on their naturalization.

    In this article, and other articles on this blog, you keep referring to opposition by many Nigerians who are not happy with the new trend. Who are these armchair critics? Fasugba and Enefiok and Ogunkoya? Can you provide a log of those people that have issues with the trend? Or is it just Making of Champions that has an issue with it and is thus packaging the blog’s interest as the interest of many Nigerians? Fasugba is currently serving time in the British army and maybe have been granted citizenship. Why is he not here to help develop new athletes? What is Enefiok, with all his experience, doing to develop new athletes? Must we leave everything to the AFN? If you, Making of Champions, is so concerned with the lack of development of local talent, you can use your medium to identify them before anyone at AFN even knows who they are. I’d be happy to join you in a crowdfunding project to provide funds for their training.

    Again, in your article, you try to play the divisive card by suggesting that the new athletes are not great athletes who can make a significant contribution to Nigerian athletics, singling out Lindsay, Simmons and those in the male team. You blog, at every opportunity, highlights the fact that they have not won significant medals. Seriously, is this what “watch-dogging” is all about? This is just petty and sounds like sour grapes. Did you really expect them to hit the ground running? Perhaps you do not realize that it takes time for athletes to acclimatize to their new surroundings, teammates, and coaches’ instructions. Okagbare is only beginning to hit her stride after making many mistakes in the past. Even Usain Bolt struggled at the beginning until his coaches found the right formula for him.

    By all means I support your quest to ‘lift the lid’ on what is happening in Nigeria athletics. But think of it in this way: If someone writes a protest letter to Jonathan with bad English and dripping with inaccurate information, do you think he will take the protest seriously? It means that the protester has not done their homework properly. This is indeed how your article on Lindsay Weyenmi comes across. You made the poor girl a scapegoat and a rallying point for your grievances against AFN and the loopholes in the Nigerian system. You may have had good intentions, but your article does not actually portray your blog in a good light because of the way it was executed. And if Making of Champions wants to be taken seriously, in whatever form you decide to take going forward, you have to be careful to publish well-informed, unbiased articles, based on good research, accurate and reliable information. Even in a world of expanding voices and unconventional media outlets like blogs, accuracy is the foundation upon which everything else is built.

    • Hi Simi,

      thanks once again for your well crafted and detailed response. You sound like a patriot as well, and you also sound as though you are particularly passionate about this subject. That’s good, but your personal bias on this issue is clear to see. Firstly, perhaps you should self-assess why you think we should not be patient enough to develop local talent, but we should be patient with talent we buy when they don’t deliver the instant success we recruited them for? Your complete defence of the recruited athletes and complete dismissal of home-based athletes is an interesting bias. Or perhaps you feel the need to defend the case of the recruited athletes because of what we’ve written here?

      Rest assured we are definitely not fabricating the fact that most people who follow Nigerian Athletics are not in support of the practice – that is something we would simply not make up. Truth be told, what we’ve written here is extremely kosher compared to what some others are writing in Nigeria – I could not even share the links here with you, such is the vile language often used, and if you think this is poorly written or researched, then you definitely haven’t seen anything yet. I would recommend you visit the Facebook Page ‘Nigeria Athletics Incorporated’ (NAI) where many of the ex-athletes you mention such as Enefiok and Fasuba frequent – that page might give you a good idea of the temperature in Nigeria about this.

      “Lifting the Lid” is actually a pretty apt term to use here. What you’ve read on this blog is merely the tip of the iceberg. For you to see the rest, IF YOU WANT TO, you’ve got to look elsewhere. We’ve lifted the lid, now it’s up to you to look inside, NAI would be a good place to start. Anything more here would be opening pandora’s box, and that would be totally counter-productive.This is a very serious matter that we’ve brought to national attention, but we certainly have no intention of writing protests letters as some are doing right now, as we don’t believe that it would lead to any positive results. This is a country that can’t even bring back our girls, and is fighting an ebola epidemic – handing a few Americans passports to run for Nigeria and Delta State is barely newsworthy. You may not see the full picture now, but I’m sure more will come to light at the National Sports Festival and beyond.

      Finally, I’m glad that you mention crowdfunding, because training athletes in Nigeria is certainly something that Making of Champions is working towards. As you’ve aptly alluded to, if the AFN is not interested in finding and developing the talents of 100 Million Nigerians under the age of 25, then somebody has to if it is ever going to happen. If you’re really serious about being part of the fundraising effort for that, then you can get in touch with us at [email protected] – I do hope that you can show as much passion and fervour in protecting and developing the interests of home-based athletes as you have shown for our new compatriots. Many thanks!

      • Very nice post by simi and good response by bambostic. In my opinion, recruiting qualified athletes from abroad and developing local talent are not mutually exclusive. In fact if well-managed, these athletes from abroad can actually help with facilitating local development through training, access and mentorship. Good debate.

  16. “The human mind is capable of excitement without the application of gross and violent stimulants; and he must have a very faint perception of its beauty and dignity who does not know this.”
    by William Wordsworth

    At any one time, the human mind can be incredibly tough and all the while still very fragile. You cannot overemphasize the importance of psychology when it comes to activities involving physical performance in public regardless of the performer’s experience, talent or desire (raw heart). This easily applies to athletes and athletics without exemptions even at the professional level.

    Nigerian athletics has been in an unfortunate state for very long and especially now. This story is yet proof to attest that fact but it does not only just identify the situation. It also shows the athlete Lindsay Lindley Wenyinmi. Thus, instantly presenting her and other recruits as the face and cause of the issues with Nigerian athletics rather than being symptoms of the problems.

    Although stories like this one are mostly true, there is a real possibility that they could unfairly play on the athletes’ mind, not because they should be completely blameless but because albeit unknowingly it puts them forward to take the brunt for decisions and processes most likely instigated and definitely vetted by the AFN. The organisation is unknown and remains untouchable while the athletes are firmly within reach and readily identifiable on sight.


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