African table tennis star, France-based Segun Toriola has emphasised the need for sports federations in Nigeria to be granted autonomy saying that is the only way to lift the standard of sports in the country.
“I must say that the idea of Ministry of Sports holding on to funds for sports has adversely affected the fortune of sports in Nigeria because most sports federations have international competitions to attend but they had to be running every time to Abuja to beg for fund from the taxpayers money allocated for sports.
“This is why Nigeria will continue to go down in sports. I was aware that every federation gives their annual budget to the Sports Ministry who will in turn present it to the government. But at the end of the day, no federation knows how much he is getting annually. This is too bad for our sports because every federation should know what they are getting so that they can plan with the amount for their programmes.
“I have spent most of our lives outside Nigeria and I know what obtains in other clime but in Nigeria, this is different and that is why we cannot move forward in sports,” the only African to have attended seven Olympics, Toriola said.
Toriola, 43, however, decried the country’s preparation for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.
“I don’t know why things cannot change in Nigeria because we have less than two months to the Commonwealth Games in Australia and some of us outside the country have no inkling of what is going on.
“Countries like England and India have been supporting their athletes to attend various competitions across the globe that at present over 12 Indian table tennis players are in Porto, Portugal training for the same Commonwealth Games that Nigeria is expecting us to win medals. It is disheartening that we found ourselves in this situation that things are not changing at all.
“We will try our best at the games but if we consider the way we have been treated, we will not do well. But we want to make names for ourselves and our families and that is why we will always give our best,” the former African champion stated.