Henry Boyo: Super Eagles as the other Nigerian

Published:18 Feb, 2013

Our governments have spent billions of naira over time to promote a positive image for Nigerians everywhere.  Regrettably, the popular perception of the Nigerian character remains that of greed, self-interest and other such antisocial escapades.  The promoted brand of “Good People, Great Nation” never really took off, and it has become clear that neither catchy slogans nor sexy packaging can change public perception of what is intrinsically a bad product!  Ultimately, our national football team’s derisive nickname of ‘Super Chickens’ became a neater fit of our national image than our own self-invention of “Giant of Africa”; consequently, most foreigners believed that nothing good could come out of this supposedly ‘cursed’ land!

The question then is, how did the Super Eagles against all odds win the coveted Africa Cup Nations after a 19-year wait, with qualities and focus supposedly alien to the Nigerian character?  With our tradition of tardy preparations, inadequate funding and poor team selection, how did the shrubs we sowed transform into sweet-smelling roses?

As we celebrate the unexpected exploits of the Super Eagles, we may also draw lessons from the performances of the following three members of the team; Stephen Keshi’s exemplary leadership; the indomitable spirit of home grown Sunday Mba and also, the dynamite and humble enigma called Victor Moses!

Undoubtedly, unity, cohesive teamwork, strong determination to succeed, utmost self-belief, and a driving hunger for personal glory and honour to the fatherland produced the Eagles’ unexpected success at the 2013 AFCON.

Keshi’s courageous leadership was certainly a major factor in the cup victory; his team list was based on the perceived fighting and winning mentality of each player and the readiness of his selection to play according to instructions.  Indeed, Keshi, himself maintained that individual skills alone do not win such tournaments, and in spite of intense pressure, he remained undaunted and unapologetic for leaving out some star players; for him therefore, merit without consideration of ethnic affiliations or federal character, was the benchmark for team selection.

The coach consistently took full responsibility for his team’s shortcomings, without overtly apportioning blame to anyone.  Consequently, he earned his players’ respect and their resolve to give 101 per cent in every match.  Keshi, in return, showed genuine fatherly concern and motivated his players.

Meanwhile, unknown to Nigerians, Keshi was silently hurting; but despite unpaid salary arrears and other official deprivations, he refused to moan but instead encouraged Nigerians to have faith in the team’s ability, and confidently remained upbeat about fulfilling his contract terms to take the Super Eagles to the semi-finals of the tournament.

Curiously, also, unknown to most Nigerians, midway through the tournament, the Nigerian Football Federation had allegedly threatened to summarily dismiss the coach if he refused to accept a foreign technical adviser as his boss; in response, Keshi offered to voluntarily resign as coach immediately after the Super Eagles unexpectedly beat the star-studded tournament favourites, Ivory Coast!  Consequently, his dedication of the victory to all African coaches and the subsequent aborted resignation were clear statements of protest.

Fortunately, the Eagles camp remained unusually convivial and harmonious despite the distractions.  The excellent team spirit was no doubt a testimony of  resilience and the mature leadership skills of Keshi; an attribute that has unfortunately been absent in the affairs of our nation for too long.

Keshi’s effortless response to questions in both English and French at press briefings during the tournament must have endeared him not only to French speaking Africans, but also to those Nigerians, who cringe at the poor performance of our national leaders in front of international media.

In a similar vein, Nigerians witnessed the amazing exploits of Sunday Mba, one of the six domestic players in Keshi’s 23-man team.  The unusually high quota of local content was justified by the excellent performances of Mba and the other homegrown players. The player certainly lifted the spirits of most Nigerians with his two mesmerising winning goals against Ivory Coast in the quarterfinals and Burkina Faso in the finals respectively; better-known international icons such as Pele and Maradona would have been proud to have scored either goal.  Indeed, despite technical and capacity limitations locally, there are undoubtedly many more Mbas, loaded with the ‘Nigerian spirit’, waiting to explode in the service of our country in various fields of endeavour whenever the enabling economic environment presents itself.

Mba’s electric performance and Keshi’s success sent out a strong message that the object of our expensive foreign travails may actually have remained idle in the pockets of our ‘shokoto’.  This same syndrome of lack of belief in ourselves, and the cringing adoration for everything foreign, even when the imported quality is inferior, can still be observed in all facets of governance and corporate management in our country.

Finally, we cannot comment on the apparent total commitment of Victor Moses to the national team’s success without a twitch of guilt or at best some embarrassment.  Indeed, after his petulance in retaliation to tackles in the pre-tournament match against Cape Verde, it was unlikely that the same player would win the Fair Play award in the final match of the 2013 AFCON.  Moses certainly responded positively to the reformative chiding by a very unhappy coach Keshi after the Cape Verde match, as the young man subsequently rode more vicious tackles without any visible emotional outburst in the six matches played by the Super Eagles!  Despite the threatening injury he sustained in the match against Mali, he went on to give a superlative account of himself also in the final.

Surprisingly, Victor had a choice to play for England and ultimately enjoy the same cult status of key players in the English team, but it is to his credit and his sense of loyalty that he chose, instead, to play for his fatherland. Ironically, unknown to most Nigerians, the parents of this young man were mindlessly murdered in the mayhem that followed the aborted Miss World Beauty contest in Abuja in 2002!  Painfully, the perpetrators of that heinous act remain free; Victor Moses may never forget the brutal separation from his parents, but for him to have given so much of himself to Nigeria in the tournament, the young man must have found it in his heart to forgive his countrymen.

Nigerians everywhere thank the Super Eagles, the team’s support staff and travelling fans for burnishing our national image and delivering on their promise to put a smile on the faces of longsuffering compatriots. However, we also pray that our smiles become a wider grin at the Confederations Cup in June!  Good luck!


Henry Boyo (lesleba@lesleba.com)

Read original article via Punch

One thought on “Henry Boyo: Super Eagles as the other Nigerian”

  1. Okafor Amam says:

    O Boyo! What patriot art thou?…exposing the diplomacy & thiefry of national issues to nigerians…you shall live!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Related Posts

Recent Posts

APC governors meet Buhari, flay envoy-nominees’ list.

Aggrieved governors of the All Progressives Congress (APC) have protested against the mode of nominating non-career ambassadors by President Muhammadu Buhari. The governors who held an emergency meeting with Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja yesterday expressed anger at an alleged decision by the president not to consult them in the selection of the nominees whose names have already been forwarded to the Senate for confirmation. Imo State Governor Rochas Okorocha also recently confirmed the frustration of APC members while fielding...

Just two hours after getting married, groom divorces wife for posting their ceremony on snapchat

A furious groom has divorced his bride for posting their ceremony on Snapchat, just two hours after their wedding in Saudi Arabia. According to Daily Mail, the unidentified couple had a binding agreement not to share pictures or videos of the their ceremony on social media, only for the groom to find out that images of his new wife from the wedding ceremony had been sent to the several female friends, prompting an immediate divorce. Despite the divorce drama...

EFCC Arrests Ex-FCT Minister, Bala Mohammed.

BALA Mohammed, a former Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed, has been arrested by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. At Press time, details of Mr. Mohammed’s arrest remained sketchy, but sources confirmed he was arrested and was at the EFCC headquarters in Abuja on Monday night. The EFCC spokesman, Wilson Uwujaren, could not be reached for comment late Monday.

FCT Minister Orders Fulani Herdsmen To Move Out of Abuja

Minister of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) Muhammad Bello has ordered herdsmen to move their cattle out of Abuja. This is part of efforts to stop cattle grazing in the Abuja metropolis and on highways serving as major entrances and exits into the city centre. “Herdsmen must move their cattle out of the Federal Capital City because there is no way such animals can co-habit with residents,” Bello said. He gave the order at a meeting with members of the FCT...

Nigerian Governors Fault Buhari’s Ambassadorial List

Progressives Governors Forum on Monday faulted the ambassadorial list forwarded to the Senate for screening and approval by President Muhammadu Buhari. They had complained that it was lop-sided in favor of some senatorial zones in the states at the detriment of other zones. Plateau State Governor, Solomon Lalong, who spoke with State House correspondents at the end of the meeting with the President, shed light on Pauline Tallen’s rejection of the ambassadorial appointment. He said: “Pauline is an astute politician from...

Protest in Enugu as 200 Herdsmen Invade Community

Residents of an Enugu community, Agu Obodo of Obeagwu Ozalla in Nkanu West Local Government Area, have protested the arrival of over 200 Fulani herdsmen and their cows in the area. The panicky residents said they were overwhelmed by the arrival of over five trucks that were loaded with the herdsmen, their families and cows. The residents urged the “strangers” to leave their land within three...

It’s impossible to sell petrol at N145 per litre, we need to increase price – NNPC

As Nigerians grapple with recession, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, Monday reminded the nation that the sale of petrol at N145 per litre was no longer feasible with the current price of foreign exchange. The Group General Manager, Crude Oil Marketing, NNPC, Mr. Mele Kyari, stated this at this year’s Oil Trading and Logistics Expo, OTL, holding in Lagos. He said: “We have a very difficult business environment. It is impossible today to import products at the...

Teachers Sent Abroad for Training Have Absconded – Jigawa Govt

Jigawa State Government has disclosed that some teachers said to have gone for in-service courses in universities across the world, have graduated but has since refused to report to their place of work. The action of those teachers compelled the government to further suspend indefinitely in-service training courses and set up special committee to find those involved and other teachers receiving salaries without coming to work, Vanguard reports. The government was furious that the teachers betrayed its trust by remaining...

I Will Nominate Aisha Buhari As my Running Mate in 2019 – Agoro

Founder and former presidential candidate of the National Action Council (NAC), Dr Olapade Agoro, wants Aisha Buhari, wife of President Muhammadu Buhari to be his running mate for the 2019 election. In an interview with Daily Independent, Agoro said: “If I have my way, I will nominate Aisha Buhari as my running mate in 2019. I am looking forward to meeting with Buhari and tell him that Aisha is not fit for the kitchen. “Buhari made a mistake building up...

Suge Knight Claims Dr. Dre Hired Hitman To Kill Him In $300 Million Lawsuit

Suge Knight and Dr. Dre have had a longstanding feud, one outlined in N.W.A’s biopic Straight Outta Compton. Now, that dispute is intensifying with a new lawsuit.  Knight believes Dre hired a hitman to kill him on two separate occasions in order to avoid paying him as part of their alleged lifetime management deal, according to TMZ.  The first of these incidents took place at 1OAK nightclub...

We Fought Corruption Without Making Noise– Jonathan

Former President Goodluck Jonathan has said that his administration fought corruption in the country without making noise about it. Mr. Jonathan said this on Monday while speaking at the Oxford Union of the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. The immediate past Nigerian leader spoke on the theme “Promoting Youth Entrepreneurship”. Responding to inquiries by some of the students regarding his administration’s fight against corruption, Mr. Jonathan said he would not like to...

EFCC Arrests Reuben Abati Over N100 Million Funds

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has arrested Reuben Abati, a former spokesman to former President Goodluck Jonathan, over allegations of financial crimes. According to an EFCC source, Abati is being interrogated over allegation of collecting about N100 million from the former National Security Adviser (NSA) Sambo Dasuki. The source added that Abati is likely to be detained by the EFCC in its Abuja detention facility. Credit: dailytrust

I Beheaded My Victim To Avoid Running Mad, Arrested Man Confesses

The Police in Abia State have arrested a man, Emmanuel Effiong, who said he beheaded a woman in order to prevent himself from running mad. Effiong, who pleaded guilty in an interview with newsmen in Aba during his parade by the Abia Commissioner of Police, Mr. Leye Oyebade, said he beheaded the woman in the night and threw her head into the Aba River. He said a spiritualist had advised him to perform the act as a sacrifice to avert...

Police To Create Special Unit To Tackle Cybercrime

The Nigeria Police Force on Monday said it would create a Specialists Unit to deal with the rising cases of cybercrime in the country. The Inspector-General of Police (I-G), Mr. Ibrahim Idris, disclosed this at a three-day Training Workshop on Cybercrime for police officers in Abuja. Idris was represented by AIG Umar Shehu, Assistant Inspector-General of Police, Intelligence department. He said that the training further demonstrated the commitment of the force to check cybercrime...

Jay Z to Perform Ohio Concert for Hillary Clinton

Jay-Z is set to perform a “get out the vote” concert in Ohio, prior to Election Day, with the aim of getting black voters out for Hillary Clinton in the key swing state. The date nor the venue of the performance have been confirmed but a Clinton aide confirmed to BuzzFeed News on Monday that the show will take place in Cleveland. The gig comes as part of Clinton’s effort to lock up key battleground states, with...

EFCC Recovers Over N325m From Politicians, Individuals In North-east

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) says it has recovered N325,181,919.00 from politicians and individuals the Northeast zone and secured five convictions in its operations across the states there.   Aminu Ado Aminu, EFCC Head of Operations, made this known in Gombe at the weekend while recounting the successes from January 2016 to date within the zone. It comprises Adamawa, Bauchi,...

What Buhari, APC Governors Discussed In Closed Door Meeting (SEE PHOTOS)

The All Progressives Congress on Monday said the lingering economic crisis in the country should no longer be blamed on the 16-year streak of the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP. The party said it could no longer continue to blame past administrations for the enormous hardship Nigerians are grappling with. The...

Video: Reminisce Ft. Seriki, Ola Dips & Ice Prince – Feego

Reminisce Releases the official video to his ‘street hop’ titled “Feego”, the second song off his Cypher Sessions project. “Feego” enlists the creative madness of veteran Ibile MC Seriki; the young king of the new school Ola Dips; and the indomitable Ice Prince. Watch as rappers exchange punchlines on the jaw dropping beat. This is certainly a must watch video for all Hip-Hop lovers. Check the visuals out below and share your views! AUDIO DOWNLOAD Watch “Feego” Video by...

Manchester United vs Man City to Be Refereed By Mike Dean

Mike Dean has been appointed as the referee for the midweek EFL Cup fixture between Manchester United and Manchester City. The 48-year-old will be overseeing his third Manchester derby, his last being in 2013 as City defeated United 2-1 at Old Trafford with goals from James Milner and Sergio Aguero. Dean has shown 38 yellow cards thus far in the 2016-17 Premier League season, whilst the one red card he has dished out was to United loanee Adnan Januzaj...

Protest: Benin-Lagos Highway Totally Shut Over Plans to Relocate Traders

Protesters on Monday blocked the Uselu/Ugbowo section of the Benin-Lagos highway over plans by Egor Local Government Area of Edo to relocate traders. The protesters, under the aegis of Uselu Market Women Association, were resisting the directive to move to lock-up stores built by the council. The women, displaying placards, blocked both sides of the highway, preventing motorists from continuing with their trips. Some of the women said the N1.2 million charged for the stalls was too expensive for them, especially...

“I belong to the kitchen, living room, other room”– Mrs Wike

Justice Eberechi Suzzette Nyesom-Wike backed the President, by saying that she belongs to the kitchen, the living room and every room created by God while speaking at the 10th Biennial Diocesan Women’s Guild Conference Thanksgiving Service of the Anglican Diocese of the Niger Delta North in Saint Thomas Anglican Church, Diobu, Port Harcourt yesterday.   According to her, “All women have been through a lot as they strive to build the society.   “Our contributions to societal development cannot be underestimated.   “I belong to...