One of the sights that are sure to confront one at motor parks and other locations with a high concentration of artisans is that of herbal concoction sellers plying their wares. The herbal remedy sellers are usually quick to dispense the same mixture to almost all their clients for the day. While one is not being dismissive of herbal remedies or homeopathy, these sellers often rely on dispensing potions that address symptoms presented to them – fatigue, headache, body ache, irritable bowels, elevated temperature, dizziness and any other conceivable manifestation of ill health get that generous dose of concoction, which may alleviate the symptoms for a while but hardly ever address the root cause such that the client keeps coming back.
Former Chairman Gombe football Association, Shuaib Gara Gombe, perfectly fits this description of an herbal remedy peddler with a little dubiousness added. Gombe is not only dispensing unproven remedies he also has that streak of the delusion of grandeur that makes him fancy himself as a chief medical doctor that can in the blink of an eye diagnose what ails the system and what questionable concoction to administer to immediately suppress the symptoms – he is not about long term sustainable measures. The remedy he has for any perceived malaise in sports or any other sector in Nigeria is to dispense his angst, anger and a generous sprinkling of all the sense of frustration and disappointment he rightly or wrongly has.
His latest attempt at a commentary on how the COVID-19 efforts are being handled showed this lack of depth that is well camouflaged behind verbosity and yelling. Fiercely condemning something does not necessarily imply that the matter at hand is condemnable, it could also mean that the person making the judgment is direly in need of facts that will set them right and save the entire society from being misled. Perhaps, Gombe should have stuck to sports, or at least sports medicine, which he may know a little about so that he would have been saved the ridicule he exposed himself to by dabbling into COVID -19, a killer viral illness that even the best doctors and health workers across the world are still striving to understand.
Gombe went even beyond the remit of an herbal remedy seller as he delved into world economics with a touch of conspiracy theorists. Because these are areas in which he has no competence, he failed woefully in adding any value to the knowledge the country is seeking in formulating a robust response to the ravages of COVID-19. The pseudo analyst expressed anger and disappointment at Nigeria’s quest for funding to manage the situation and of course like any other average debater at a drinking joint he was quick to point out how the USA, South Africa, Europe, and Morocco are not treading this path. He however woefully neglected to discuss the condition precedent in these entities prior to COVID-19. His attempt at trying to present some countries as superior in this matter fell flat because the interconnectivity that exists among nations will see to it that the kind of siphoning of the economy he predicted.
His unwarranted attack on football administrator is regrettable especially with the lack of depth it confirmed on his part. That someone with this much deficit of facts once presided over the affairs of Gombe FA and played crucial roles in national football administration is an indication of what is wrong with sports administration in the country. Charlatans have seats at the table. Anyone that compares the Nigeria Professional Football League with European leagues without adequate caveats as to peculiarities should not be taken seriously. Period.
That said. It appears the whole essence of Gombe granting his said interview was not to make any meaningful contributions to ongoing efforts but to hit out the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr. Sunday Dare. The tone of his verbal attack belies a man who is angry at not being given a role in the administration while the points he marshaled are consistently laced with errors.
For instance, he claimed that sports administration in the country is on auto-pilot and one wonders how many of his colleagues in the sector will agree with him. Perhaps, Gombe’s perception of sports is limited to just football but even that too is seeing a lot of movement particularly as it pertains to improving transparency and eliminating the stifling perception of corruption around the sport. Other sports federations have at various times asserted that they have never had it so good as they now do under the current leadership of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
Sadly, as Gombe himself admitted, he now spends much time in Morocco so he must have missed out on vital news regarding the development of sports in Nigeria. But this is something he could have simply read up and bring himself up to speed. He claimed that the Minister was trying to introduce new things without planning. He must have been too absorbed in nursing his anger that he was unaware of an Inter-Ministerial Meeting on Sports Development, the engagement with the Nigeria Economic Summit Group (NESG) and eventual signing of an MoU, the collaboration with the Sports Industry Working Group (SIWG) to develop the sports industry and other interactions that are exploring ways of developing a vibrant sports sector. The “revival of old competitions like Youth Games, NUGA, back to school, Principals Cup, Headmasters Cup among others” that the former FA chairman is wishing to fail is being undertaken with stakeholders’ input that provides refreshed ideas. What we are talking about here is a collaboration of multi-disciplinary teams of professionals using a fact-based approach to seek solutions and Gombe still thinks there is no planning.
Gombe apparently has no faith in the country’s judiciary, which is unfortunate because he cannot wish the society away. The Minister cannot constitute himself into an emperor and sack sports administrators that came into office through recognized processes. If they are charged to court on allegation of corruption and the court rules to acquit them there is nothing that can be done to the contrary. The judiciary is the judiciary. Also, even when persons are standing trial for corruption charges, they must be presumed innocent until the court convicts them. So, on what basis is he expecting the Minister to isolate these “corrupt people” around him, and it must be noted that the Minister met these people in their respective offices and was not the one that appointed them.
As further testimony to being out of touch, Gombe rehashed the claims made by a certain radio station and some of its equally disgruntled on-air guests by saying that he has “learned of allegations against the Sports Minister that he has collected money from officials of the Nigeria Football Federation.” A simple check would have educated him to the reality that the radio host apologized for the lies told on the station when the Minister demanded proof of the unfunded allegation. Gombe’s co-travelers that appeared on the radio program to make the injurious claims have fallen silent because they have no facts to back their claims. He may as well be facing the prospect of spending his earnings from Morocco to settle lawsuits.
The greatest giveaway of Gombe’s lack of capacity to speak on professional matters is his screaming ignorance about the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development being a two-in-one organization. Youth Development and Sports Development. He spoke of the Minister’s initiatives, DEEL (acronym for Digital Skills, Entrepreneurship, Employability, and Leadership training), DY.ng, and NOYA (Nigerian Online Youth Assembly) in a manner that confirmed he sees them as a sports program. The reality, however, is that these are initiatives to develop the youth even though they are also open to sportsmen.
The facts sum up to confirm that Gara Gombe engaged in the hard sell. It is on record that since 2014 Gombe has been involved in marketing fake goods, putrid thoughts, false theories and blackmailing potions. That he is still busy in 2020 plying the same wares show that no one has bought his wares. This time he is up against the wall. Whether he was sent to do the hatchet job, or he chose to do it of his volition, someone should quickly tell him he has embarked on an ill-fated journey. And if ever the roll call of knowledgeable men in sports will ever be made Gara Gombe’s name will never make the cut. His thoughts like the prescriptions he gives are fake. He is cancer to Nigeria’s sports development and should be educated in the errors of his way.