In what has been perhaps our hardest-hitting interview from the ongoing World Championships in Beijing, Nigeria-born Abbas Abubakar Abbas, who switched nationality to compete for Bahrain over 2 years ago, speaks candidly on his belief that Nigeria’s Athletics Federation (AFN) ‘must change’ the way it treats it’s athletes, else the best talents will continue to seek greener pastures in countries where their abilities are valued much more:
Abass came into national reckoning at the 2012 National Sports Festival (NSF) where he finished 2nd in the 400m behind Orukpe Erayokan who won with a PB of 46.27s. Abbas on the other hand returned a time of 47.13s. Two years later, Erayokan is yet to break 46s, having only lowered his time to 46.13s at the Abuja Golden League in June. This ought not to be, says Abass: “Orukpe is a strong man. Orukpe needs help. Please Nigeria try to help some people. I know he is stronger than me but now, no Nigerian Athlete will beat me”.
Orukpe himself made a cry for help at the 2015 World Relays, admitting that Nigerian athletes need help if they are to maximize their potential on the world stage. It is indeed sad that Nigerian athletes have to turn to other countries in order to become the world beaters they deserve to be.
Even though Abbas has left Nigerian shores to compete for Bahrain, he is unified with Nigeria’s best such as Orukpe in their belief that Nigeria can do much better in terms of support and encouragement that should be rendered athletes, considering that they put their all into representing the nation, and get little or nothing in return.
Despite his switch, Abbas is clearly pained that Nigeria is yet to attain her full potential in the world of Track and Field. In his interview above he sums up many Nigerian athletes’ sentiments when he says “The way Bahrain are doing things, if Nigeria are doing like that, really all over the world everybody will hear about Nigeria. Everybody will see”.
It’s high time that everybody all over the world hears about Nigeria. Nigeria needs the world to see the incredible potential this nation has to dominate Track & Field, particularly sprinting and jumping – we wait with bated breath for change!