Simon Kolawole: A Lesson or Two from Super Eagles

Published:18 Feb, 2013

I was close to tears. I arrived Abuja, last Tuesday, shortly after the Super Eagles returned from South Africa where they had just played their way into the hearts of millions of football fans to become the champions of Africa. Why was I so touched? As Nigerians lined the streets to welcome the heroes, I saw unspeakable joy on their faces. Genuine joy. I saw soldiers at the airport brigade dancing and waving the green-white-green flag. I saw children jumping joyfully. I saw ecstatic women and men. This was no rented crowd. This was no choreographed jubilation. This was no political rally where hungry people go to show “solidarity” after pocketing a few wads of naira. No. This was real. The excitement was authentic. The ululation was heart-felt. The flag-waving was neither coerced nor induced.
As the Super Eagles flew their way to glory in South Africa, some thoughts about our politics welled up in my heart. We have said these things several times in the past, but they become more real to me day by day. Each time the players took to the field, they represented every nook and cranny of Nigeria. There were only 11 players on the pitch, but they were representing the 36 states and FCT, the 774 local government areas, the 250 ethnic groups and 160 million Nigerians. It did not matter that many states or ethnic groups did not have any players on the field. It did not matter that most of the players were from one part of the country. Each time we entered the pitch, we saw them first and foremost as Nigerians who were working their socks off to bring glory to the country. Each time they scored, we all celebrated irrespective of the player’s state of origin or religion.

 

Those who play up ethnic and religious sentiments for political purposes in Nigeria may wish to look at football, or sport, more closely. They need to renew their minds. When we assemble a team of ministers and other public officers to govern us, it is in our interest for them to succeed. We must see them as “playing” for Nigeria, not their ethnic groups or states. Their success is success for all Nigerians; their failure is failure for all Nigerians. If the minister of works is an Itsekiri or Idoma and all our federal highways are put in excellent shape, who benefits? All Nigerians! After all, Sunday Mba or Ahmed Musa scores for all Nigerians, not for the South or the North! Critically, though, the question must be asked: can we sincerely say we field our “Best 11” in government? Even if the constitution says there must be one minister from every state, do the states really nominate their best materials? What we see, mostly, are bootlickers making their way to the cabinet. And we keep asking why Nigeria is like this!

 

Meanwhile, while support for Super Eagles was national, irrespective of “tribe and tongue”, ethnic and religious manipulations dominate our polity. I hate to listen to some politicians and opinion leaders who see everything from a sectional point of view. Everything starts and ends with ethno-religious sentiments. They cannot even hide it. Before some people speak or write on any issue, you can predict precisely what their position would be. It must always be to defend or project sectional interest. Yet, for all intents and purposes, no ethnic group can claim innocence in the brigandage going on in Nigeria and the mismanagement of the country. To think one ethnic group is “clean” and the others are “evil” is to ignore fact and glamorise fiction. It is human beings, not ethnic groups, that are bad.

 

I cringe anytime I remember the day Malam Sanusi Lamido Sanusi was nominated as the governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria. A colleague, who knew nothing about Sanusi, screamed: “So they are going to bring this illiterate Malam to come and destroy everything Soludo has built?” The colleague in question does not have half of Sanusi’s education or a quarter of his competence, but such were the prejudices we inherited from the foundation of Nigeria. We never bother to question these prejudices and face the facts. We mostly fail to judge everyone by his or her character. We simply pass the prejudices on to the next generation. This nonsensical stereotyping feeds our mind-sets. Yorubas are traitors and cowards; Hausas are illiterates and dumb; Igbos are fraudsters and money worshipers. Isn’t it refreshing that in football, we judge every player by his ability and performance, rather than by his ethnic origin?
I am aware that, for instance, much of the opposition to President Goodluck Jonathan in some parts of the country has nothing to do with his performance in office. Of course, there are many people who are genuinely disappointed with Jonathan’s performance so far, but there are also those whose only grouse is the part of the country Jonathan comes from.  Because of this, they wish him nothing but failure (some were wishing that Super Eagles would not win the Nations Cup so that Jonathan would have nothing to celebrate, forgetting completely that it is Nigeria, not Jonathan, that would be honoured by the victory). This sort of mind-set is tragic. If Jonathan fails as Nigeria’s president, all Nigerians will suffer the consequences. If he succeeds, Nigeria will be a better place for us. Isn’t that simple logic?

 

If the Eagles had failed to win the Africa Cup of Nations, the heartache would have been Nigerians’, not Jonathan’s alone. Because they won, Nigerians all over the world are over the moon, popping champagne and backslapping. It has nothing to do with whether or not they like Jonathan. As the president himself said, the celebration in Ibadan was as loud as the celebration in Kano! If Nigeria works, no matter who the president is, the pride is ours! The peace is ours! The prosperity is ours! Until we develop what I call a “Naija-centric” mentality, we will continue to fall prey to the agents of hate and discord among us. “Nigeria first” should be our mentality at all times.
Nevertheless, I recognise that football is not exactly politics. There is more at stake in politics than in football. In politics, our politicians are constantly bickering over who gets what, mostly for selfish gain. They care little about the ordinary Nigerians. Mediocrity and greed are the order of the day. In sport, the ingredients of success are merit, hard work and teamwork. I wish we could say that about our politics. Nigeria would certainly have become a paradise by now!

 

Simon Kolawole  (simon.kolawole@thisdaylive.com)

Read original article via This Day

Related Posts

Recent Posts

Buhari Assures Children Of Better Nigeria

President Muhammadu Buhari has felicitated with all Nigerian children on the occasion of this year’s Children’s Day celebration, reassuring them his administration remained fully committed to fulfilling its promise of a better Nigeria. The president, in his Children's Day message to the nation yesterday, said it was a thing of joy that on the occasion, the country could also celebrate the safe return of one of the abducted Chibok schoolgirls, Amina Ali Nkeki and many other abducted...

Metuh Wrote EFCC, Ready To Return N400m – Counsel

The immediate past National Publicity Secretary of the Peoples Democratic Party, Mr. Olisa Metuh’s lead defence counsel, Dr. Onyechi Ikpeazu (SAN), has said his client has told the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission that he is willing to return the N400m he allegedly received from the Office of the National Security Adviser in November, 2014. Metuh is currently being prosecuted by the EFCC for allegedly receiving the money, which the prosecution alleged was collected from the...

No Group Will Illegally Occupy Nigerian Communities Under My Watch- Arase

Solomon Arase, the Inspector-General of Police, on Thursday assured that no group will overrun the country or illegally occupy any part of it under his watch as the chief police officer. Mr. Arase gave the assurance in Abuja at a public hearing on the influx of herdsmen to Benue, organised by the House of Representatives’ Committee on Police Affairs. He said the Nigeria Police Force have so far arrested 18 people in connection with the...

CAF Bans Giwa, 4 Others For 5 Years

Confederation of African Football, CAF, has slammed a five-year ban on embattled Chris Giwa and four four of his disciples thereby confirming and extending the same five-year ban placed on them by the Amaju Pinnick- led Nigeria Football Federation. The four others affected by the continental ban are Muazu Suleyman, Yahaya Adama, Sani Fema and Johnson Effiong. In a letter signed by CAF’s Secretary-General, Hicham El Amrani and dated May 27th 2016 and copied to NFF’s...

Entering Second Year, Buhari Faces Economic Turbulence

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari marks one year in office on Sunday, after 12 months dominated by efforts to end the brutal Boko Haram conflict and tackle endemic corruption. But as he enters his second year, the fallout from the nearly two-year slump in global oil prices has left the country facing economic meltdown, as potentially dangerous new security threats emerge. “There is a major challenge to get the economy reactivated, stimulated and boosted,” economist Bismarck...

Ese Oruru, Alleged Abducted Girl, Delivered Of Baby Girl

Ese Oruru, the teenager who was allegedly abducted and impregnated by Yunusa Dahiru, a Kano indigene, has been delivered of a baby girl in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. Her baby came on Thursday about 10.15 am at the Government House Clinic in the state capital. Her elated father, Charles Oruru, confirmed yesterday that the girl, who was in Junior Secondary School...

Herdsmen Attack: Police To Train Neighbourhood Watch Outfits In Enugu

The Enugu State Police Command has concluded arrangements to train neighbourhood watch security outfits in communities in the state. The plan is a fallout of the attack on Ukpabi Nimbo community by suspected Fulani herdsmen on April 25. Although some communities in the state already had neighbourhood watch units, a decision to set up the outfit in all the towns in the state was the major outcome of a stakeholders meeting convened by Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi after the Ukpabi Nimbo attack. The...

EFCC Re-Arraigns Ajudua For $8.4m Fraud

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission on Thursday re-arraigned an alleged serial fraudster, Fred Ajudua, for an alleged fraud of $8.4m.   Ajudua was accused of swindling the complainant, a former Chief of Army, Staff Lt Col. Ishaya Bamaiyi, of the sum sometime in 2004 at Kirikiri Prisons in Lagos.His re-arraignment on Thursday followed the transfer of his case from Justice Oluwatoyin Ipaye of a Lagos State High Court in Ikeja to Justice Kudirat Jose of the same court. The amended charge...

FG To Assist Communities Reclaim Lands Damaged By Mining Activities

The Federal Government says it has made provisions in the 2016 budget to help communities reclaim lands damaged through open cast mining. The Minister of Solid Minerals Development, Dr Kayode Fayemi, said this at the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) Forum in Abuja. According to him, the ministry has a law that gives conditions for environmental complaints.   ``Talking specifically about the conditions in places like Jos and Enugu if you look our budget this year, you will see specific allocation for reclamation...

Military Pensions Board To Complete Payment Of 33% Increment Arrears To Pensioners By 2017

The Military Pensions Board (MPB) says payment of 33 per cent increment arrears owed military pensioners since 2010 will be completed by the end of 2017. The Chairman of the Board, Air Vice-Marshal Muhammad Dabo, disclosed this in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Wednesday. He said the administration of Muhammadu Buhari was committed to the welfare of Nigerian military pensioners and had been fully supportive of the board’s activities in the past one year.   ``There...

Army Acquires Vehicles To Enhance Communication

The Nigerian Army has acquired six vehicles to enhance communication in its fight against insurgency in the North-East. The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), reports that the vehicles were inaugurated by the Chief of Army Staff (COAS), Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai, during his visit to Lagos on Wednesday. Buratai said the vehicles, procured by the Army Signal Corps, would be deployed to help in prosecuting the fight against insurgency in the North- East. ``We are still pursuing the terrorists and we will continue...

FG Constitutes Committee To Address Demands Of Organised Labour

The Federal Government on Wednesday constituted a 16-man committee to address issues that necessitated the three-day strike called by the Nigerian Labour Congress (NLC) after the fuel pump price hike. Mr Babachir Lawal, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), stated this in Abuja after a meeting of the Federal Government delegation with the organised labour. He said that the meeting was called to work out modalities on ways to resolve the issues raised by the organised labour. ``I am...

Former PDP NWC Members Endorse Constitution of Makarfi-led Caretaker Committee

Members of the immediate past National Working Committee (NWC) of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) have endorsed their dissolution and other decisions taken at the party’s National Convention held in Port Harcourt. This is contained in a statement jointly signed by the immediate past Deputy National Chairman of the party, Uche Secondus and six others. The statement stated that in the absence of the then National Chairman of the Party, Sen. Ali Modu Sheriff, Secondus presided over the...

Agunloye Advises FG To Fight Corruption In Power Sector

Former Minister of Power and Steel, Dr Olu Agunloye, on Wednesday advised the Federal Government to address corruption in the power sector. Agunloye gave the advice during a chat with newsmen in Abuja. He had purchased Expression of Interest and Nomination forms for the Ondo gubernatorial election on the platform of Social Democratic Party (SDP). According to him, electricity generation is not rocket science and tackling corruption in the sector will ensure stable power supply across the country. ``When I was minister of...

FAAC: FG Recovers N1.5 bn, Shares N281.5bn To 3 Tiers Of Government

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun, said in Abuja on Wednesday that N1.5 billion, being excess bank charges, was recovered and paid into the Federation Account. Adeosun announced this while addressing newsmen on the outcome of the Federation Accounts Allocation Committee (FAAC) meeting. She said this was done by a consortium of consultants for the Federation Account and that the money was proposed for distribution. She also said that N281.5 billion was shared among the federal, states and local governments as...

Army Renews Call On Boko Haram Fighters To Surrender

The Nigerian Army on Wednesday renewed calls on repentant Boko Haram fighters wishing to surrender to do so without wasting more time. Maj.-Gen. Lucky Irabor, the Theater Commander, Operation Lafiya Dole, made the call while speaking at the foundation laying ceremony of the Nigerian Army Officers Wives Association (NAOWA) Nursery School and a Day Care Centre at the Maimalari Barracks, Maiduguri. Irabor said that those who failed to surrender would pay the price for being stubborn. He added that ``I will like...

5 Herdsmen Arrested Over Enugu Massacre

The Police Force Head­quarters in Abuja, have announced the arrest of the masterminds and perpetrators of Nimbo community in Uzo-Uwani Local Government Area of Enugu State on April, 25, 2016. The attack led to the death of several persons and destruction of prop­erty valued at millions of naira The attackers compris­ing a five-member-gang were arrested by op­eratives of the Inspector General of Police (IGP) Intelligence Response Team (IRT). The suspects were found with one...

Economy In Volatile Situation- Buhari

Nigeria’s economy is currently in a volatile situation due to the crash in oil prices, President Muhammadu Buhari has said. The president’s remark came at a time when oil price yesterday rose to nearly $50 a barrel, even though Nigerian will earn less from the boom due to drop in production in recent times.  Buhari spoke yesterday at the Aso Rock Villa in Abuja at a farewell audience with Iranian Ambassador to Nigeria,...

Reps Order Halt Of Refineries Privatization

The House of Representatives Committee on Privatization and Commercialization has directed the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to stop its planned privatization of the nation’s refineries or joint investment ventures with some multinationals. The committee’s chairman, Hon. Ahmed Yerima (APC, Bauchi), who gave the order yesterday in Abuja during an interactive session with the managements of the NNPC and Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) on the planned privatization of three  refineries in the country, said the...

$200 Billion Loot: EFCC Raids Dubai Firm’s Office In Abuja

As part of the ongoing probe of the laundering of over $200billion loot in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) by former political office holders, operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission ( EFCC) yesterday stormed the office of a Dubai property firm, The First Group Company,  in Abuja. The company is also being investigated for allegedly defrauding unsuspecting Nigerians by luring them to invest in real estate in Dubai. A prominent Nigerian lost about...

Dana Air Pilots Go On Strike, Passengers Stranded

Dana Air pilots have gone on strike in protest of the non-payment of their salaries, grounding the airline’s operations and leaving hundreds of passengers stranded nationwide. “The strike started this morning and passengers that were supposed to travel this morning are stranded,” a source at the airport said. According to the source, the airline had continued to sell tickets to passengers earlier today in the hope that the dispute would be resolved.