Nigeria's COJA faces criticism from Chess Players
Nigeria Nigeria Nigeria

Nigeria is considered one of the major powers on the African continent boasting 133 million people, a wealth of talent and natural resources. Nigeria won at total of 231 medals (85 gold, 90 silver and 56 bronze) followed by Egypt's 218 (81 gold, 66 silver, 71 bronze). Despite this magnificent accomplishment, Nigeria's COJA (games planning committee) dropped the baton several times at the All-Africa Games on the logistical front. One of the most embarrassing events occurred when COJA simply ran out of medals for the winning participants! The Vanguard News (Lagos) reported,

"Organisers of the games wore long faces at the conclusion of some of the last events when they ran out of medals and had to borrow medals from winners in other events to present medalists in chess. The Chess players were even lucky that some presentation took place."

The organizing committee received the wrath of FIDE official
Emmanuel Omuku when the native Nigerian exclaimed, "How can they run out of medals? What is happening in this country?" According to an October 19th article in The Vanguard, when COJA officials asked winners to loan them medals, some athletes obliged, but the amount they retrieved wasn't enough.

"One chess player reacted angrily to COJA officials who moved in to take his medal to present to another winner. He was told that even the medal presented to him was borrowed from another winner. He then reluctantly obliged, muttering 'does it mean I don't have any medal to show for my victory here?'"

"Technical officials of chess almost manhandled
Femi Solaja, the event manager of chess," said the article. There were a number of glitches listed in the article as if the writers had an axe to grind. Instead of recounting all the problems here, congratulations are in order to the winners of the Chess Championships and all participants. Hopefully  these games will signal the rise of African chess as there were a number of promising signs  of spirited play.

Congratulations Africa!
Abuja National Stadium... Closing Ceremonies at the 8th All-Africa Games

Posted by The Chess Drum: 22 October 2003