Taraba Sports: Governor Ishaku is far from the truth – Adamu Abdullahi

Taraba Sports: Governor Ishaku is far from the truth – Adamu Abdullahi
By Samson Zanunga
The lull being experienced in the sports sector leaves a sour taste in the mouths of both enthusiasts and the budden talents lazing about as there no sporting events let alone competitors to engage them. A situation whereby the Governor is doing wonders in other sectors of the state while the sport sector is lagging behind definitely leaves so much to be desired. frontlinenewz sat down with Adamu Abdullahi aka Okocha, the dimunitive midfield ace who plies his trade in Europe bares his mind on what he feels Governor Ishaku needs to do to get it right in the sector. Excerpts:
Q. Can we meet you? 
Adamu: My name is Adamu Abdullahi and my nickname is Okocha. I’m 26yrs old. I am a football player and I play professionally in Europe. 
Q. Why are you called Okocha? 
Adamu: I got the name from friends who usually make comparisons between me and the great Nigerian legend Jay Jay Okocha. It’s flattering though, but I’m no way near what he has achieved as a football great. I try to be my own person. I’m from Taraba State. I began my football career playing on the streets of Jalingo. 
Q. What was it like growing up in Jalingo and playing football? 
Adamu: I was privileged to go through normal primary and secondary school education because my mother worked tirelessly to ensure I had a good foundation coupled with the fact that I had a passion for the game of football. It was quite tough because as a youngster you have wait on the line for the older ones to play before you can get the opportunity to also play. 
Q. How did you make it to Europe? 
Adamu: I was among about eight hundred under-12 school boys grouped into teams by the late coach Lasisi to play against each other in a mini tournament at that time but unknown to me, a scout from the famous Aspire football academy in Qatar was in Taraba to select one player that will be trained and educated at the famous sports institute. 
After so many trials, I was picked from the crowd by the European scout. I was flown to Lagos where I was to undergo the final trials and to the glory of God I made the final three man team that was eventually selected and admitted to the world renowned football academy in 2007.
I spent five years in Aspire from 2007 to 2012. After my graduation, I was sent a second division side FC Aupen in Belgium to kick-start my football journey. I spent a year and a half with the club before moving to Latvia and I’ve been Europe till date. 
Q. How often do you visit Taraba? 
Adamu:  Whenever I’m on break during the off season I visit my family here in Jalingo. 
Q. It means you’re familiar with the way things are in Taraba with regard to sports? 
Adamu: Absolutely. I know a lot has been going on for years that has been addressed which is why we are not making waves as a state with unquantifiable talents in every sport you can think of. The only set back I’ve observed over the years is that those saddled with the responsibility of managing the sector have not been fair to the government who appointed them in terms of development and sustainability. 
Q. Any National team call-ups? 
Adamu: Yes. Coach Manu Garba once invited me to the national U20 team camp in Kaduna. It was a great experience for me even though I didn’t play in the tournament. 
Q. What do you think is the problem with sports in Taraba? 
Adamu: is it not abnormal that a solid edifice is left to rot after so much was used to build it?  How can a state like Taraba with this gigantic sports complex, the only one of its kind in Nigeria not be generating revenue for the state. To be honest with you, those at the helm of affairs are not telling Mr Governor the truth. Infact Governor Ishaku is far from the truth which is why we can’t boast of any achievement due to the lack of interest from the government. 
Q. What truth are you talking about? 
Adamu: There are many secrets that those working at the sports council and ministry are keeping from the Governor. They know he may not be interested in auditing their books but I can tell you from an informed point of view that if only the Governor knew the rot in both the sports sector, a lot of heads will roll. Money’s meant for sports development are always cornered. Take a visit to the sports ministry and council whenever there’s a competition that involves traveling, you’ll discover that what was signed against the athletes names as allowances is not what they are eventually paid. These young men and women sweat and work extremely hard to make the state proud but when it comes to their allowances, they are given peanuts and this is after huge resources have been approved by the government to meet their needs. It’s so pathetic. I wish our dear Governor will set up a probe in both the sports ministry and council just to uncover the can of worms their. 
Q. What’s your take on the FC Taraba brouhaha over unpaid wages? 
Adamu: I really don’t have much to say about the situation of the club because there are so many angles to it. However, I still believe that it is not too late for the government to review the financial statements of the club and find new ways to tackle it once and for all. Governor Ishaku stands a better chance of addressing this impasse than his predecessors. No doubt the economy of the state is not in bright lights or good shape but if he can set up a thorough and forensic audit of the sports ministry, then there’s hope for sports in the state. Many believe he does not have interest in the sector but that is not true. He only lacks the right man or woman to manage the ministry. 
Q. Do you think the appointment of a technocrat to head the sports ministry can solve the problems you have stated? 
Adamu: Without a doubt, yes. What we gneed is a seasoned sports administrator and not a politician who has no idea about sports. Sports is business. It is a science. It is expensive but the dividend is huge. It is very economically viable.  You can be talented in a certain way but you need grooming to be able to exhibit your talent to the max. How many of our past sports Commissioners can boast of a sporting credential? Let alone experience in administration of sports. It’s not about parading one’s self as an administrator in a position you have little knowledge of. I hope subsequently this will be addressed. 
Q. What’s your call to the young ones coming up? 
Adamu: It’s all about passion and discipline. They have to define what they want to achieve in sports because success has a prize tag. I’ll advise they take their education seriously so that they can combine it with their passion. 
Q. Your Parting Shot: 
Adamu: like I earlier stated, I’m a living example of someone privileged and fortunate to be where I am today. Not many are as privileged but those appointed by the Governor for helping others grow  should not forget that they were trusted by the Governor before he appointed them and as such should tell him the truth so that the sector can be at par with the other sectors in the state and benefit from the governments investment package. 
Thanks for your time 
Adamu: It’s a pleasure

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