Barrister Godwin Dudu-Orumen, chairman of Edo State Sports Commission (ESSC), has condemned what he has described as atrocious officiating at the 19th edition of the National Sports Festival in Abuja.
An incensed Dudu-Orumen, who on Friday at the Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium, venue of the gymnastics event in Abuja, watched as technical officials-referees and judges took what were clearly questionable decisions in the female category of the event, described the performance of the officials as unimpressive.
“Referees, umpires and judges have not been impressive at this Games. Their conduct has left a lot of questions unanswered and has certainly affected the quality of the festival. Now, I understand why fresh talents and other best sportsmen and women do not get to represent the country,” the incensed Edo State Sports Commission said.
He also said the shenanigans of these officials puts Nigeria at a disadvantage internationally.
“Now l know also, why our arbitrating officials hardly make it on to the international platforms,” he said.
He noted that the quality of officiating had cast a shadow over some of the victories recorded at the Games. Even coaches were not spared by the newly appointed ESSC boss who accused them of colluding with the technical officials in perpetrating fraud at the Games.
“Victories are contrived and settled by other considerations that do not meet the eyes. Coaches too are involved in underhand tactics that affect results especially in the combat sports,” he stated.
He said the negative effect of this deplorable situation on Nigerian sports is incalculable, given that it is even struggling presently to make an impact on the global scene.
“There’s enough stacked against our sports already. Very questionable officiating compounds it in a riveting manner and that’s worrisome.
“Something has to be done and done quickly otherwise these groups of people will kill our sports. The activity faces enough odds and challenges from several fronts already folks,” he said.
Dudu-Orumen’s position on the questionable conduct of officials at the festival was corroborated by Edo State Deputy Governor, Hon. Phillip Shuaib. In a chat with this reporter after the event, he said he was disgusted with conduct of the officials who he said appeared to have made up their minds that athletes from one particular state should win the event.
He called for improved officiating at subsequent games noting that if something is not done to check the ugly situation, Nigeria will continue to be denied quality representation in international sports federations.
“It is totally unacceptable that this should be happening at the Sports Festival. It is disgusting to see officials who are supposed to be impartial arbiters take sides. There is no doubt that this has affected the quality of this present Games. I am calling on the leadership of the sports ministry to take steps to ensure that this does not continue to happen and that it is not allowed to happen at future games”, the Edo State Deputy Governor said.