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  (

Read original article via This Day

Related Posts

Recent Posts

She Has Fainted: Will She Go Into Comma? – by Tijani Sheriffdeen

If one begins to ask questions of what is wrong with our nation? One won’t stop until the Cock starts growing teeth. Just ask asking questions of how Nigeria got to plunge herself in this mess won’t get an answer, even after the wait of a century! Wait, does it mean we can’t explain how Nigeria found herself in this trying time? I was at a conference one bright Monday, smiling and in my normal self until one of the...

#Rio2016: Nigeria Won All Medals For Participation – by Tijani Sheriffdeen

Olympic is not to win but to participate. This must have been the words that motivated our great country to show only participation in the just concluded Olympic event in Brazil; Rio16. But come to think of it, those countries that went home with gold, silver and bronze medals, don’t they have an inkling of what the words above mean? They should also have come to participate like Nigeria so that at the end we may all leave together...

Official: Man City Sign Bravo from Barcelona

The Chile international has moved to the Etihad Stadium on a four-year deal to replace Joe Hart, who is now expected to leave the club before the transfer window closes Manchester City have completed the signing of Claudio Bravo for a fee believed to be in the region of £17 million. Bravo will earn around £100,000 per week after signing a four-year deal at the Etihad Stadium, almost double what he...

Oga Boss Retires From Music?

Nigerian rapper/hip-hop recording artiste, Tobechukwu Melvin Ejiofor, popularly known by his stage name Illbliss, announced his supposed retirement from music, via his Instagram page, today. Do we just believe and say Good bye to Our Very own Notorious BIG or just know this is another stunt and the Goretti Boss would be back soon? Watch this space.

Abducted Kaduna lawmaker, Ibrahim Ismail, Regains Freedom

A member of the Kaduna State House of Assembly, Hon Ibrahim Samaila, who was kidnapped by unknown gunmen at ?Abakpa community in Kaduna North on August 22nd, has regained his freedom. Although N70 million ransom was reportedly demanded for, the lawmaker representing Tudun Wada Constituency, was released on Wednesday evening and has since reunited with his family. Kaduna State Police Command spokesman, ASP Aliyu Usman, confirmed this but did not...

Four World Bank Officials Drowned In Ekiti Dam

Four World Bank officials had been reportedly drowned at Egbe Dam in Egbe Ekiti, Gbonyin Local Government Area of Ekiti State, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports. Egbe Dam is the biggest of the six dams in the state. Mrs Folasade Akinrinmola, the chairman of the council and the state police command confirmed this development to newsmen on Thursday. Akinrinmola said that the incident which occurred on Wednesday’s night involved a team of...

Gov. Ayade To Legalize Hawking In Cross River

The Cross River State governor, Prof Ben Ayade, has sent a Hawkers’ Right Bill to the State House of Assembly in a bid to legalize hawking in the state. Ayade, in an interaction with reporters in his office in Calabar said it is insensitive for a government to ban hawking without any alternative. According to him, such amounted to the infringement of the right of the hawker. His words, “I have just sent the Hawkers’ Right Bill to the House of Assembly,...

Italy Quake Death Toll Nears 250

The death toll from a powerful earthquake in central Italy rose to 247 on Thursday amid fears many more corpses would be found in the rubble of devastated mountain villages. Rescuers sifted through collapsed masonry in the search for survivors, but their grim mission was clouded by uncertainty about exactly how many people had been staying in communities closest to the epicentre of Wednesday’s quake. Hundreds of people spent the night sleeping in their cars,...

Photos: APC Governors Hold Meeting In Kaduna State

APC Governors under the auspices, Progressive Governors, had a meeting in Kaduna state yesterday night where they discussed issues of national importance. More photos below...

Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj to Perform at 2016 MTV VMAs; Kim Kardashian & More Announced as Presenters

MTV has announced that Kim Kardashian West alongside  Rita Ora, Ansel Elgort, Alicia Keys, Sean "Diddy" Combs, Jaden Smith, Fifth Harmony and Shameik Moore will be presenters at the MTV Video Music Awards that'll take place this Sunday.   The Music Television company also announced that Ariana Grande & Nicki Minaj will rock the stage in the highly anticipated event slated to go down live in Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Kwara State Police Command Parades Man Who Allegedly Killed His Mother, Brother’s Wife

Kwara state police command yesterday paraded a Fulani herdsman named Abubakar Usman for allegedly killing his 65 years old mother, Khadijat Usman and his elder brother’s wife, Ramatu Shagari (35) in Patigi, Patigi local government area of the state on August 13th. While parading the suspect, the state Commissioner of Police, Olusola Amore, said Adamu who is known to be very violent, also macheted a cow in the Mamba Fulani camp for no reason. Usman, 25, said he does...

‘Russian President Putin Wants All of My Country, He Wants a Less Secure World’ – Ukraine’s President Alleges

On a day when Ukraine celebrated it's 25th anniversary of independence from the Soviet union, Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko has alleged that Russia's president Vladmir Putin wants to take over 'all of his country' According to Petro Poroshenko, 50, Putin, the world's most powerful man according to Forbes wants "the whole Ukraine" to be part of the "Russian Empire."

EFCC To Grill 25 Suspects Over N5bn Army Vehicles Scandal

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has launched investigations into how the Army spent a N5billion vehicles purchase grant received from the Office of the National Security Adviser (ONSA). The grant was provided by ONSA to purchase vehicles onstensibly for the monitoring of the 2015 general elections. But sources said the purchase of the vehicles allegedly carried out by the Department of Training and Operations was bogged with fraud and illegalities. There were no...

Two Polytechnic Students Allegedly Killed By Police Today During Protest

FIDEI Polytechnic Gboko in Benue State was today shut down indefinitely following alleged killing of two students and two police officers by suspected group of thugs known as ‘SHAWA.’ The two students were killed and another hospitalized, while property belonging to the institution were also destroyed during the crisis that broke out early Tuesday and Wednesday Evening at the polytechnic. An eye witness, Terfa Guum, told a Punch correspondent on the phone that the affected property includes the bakery, bursary, the...

Usain Bolt’s Girlfriend Finally Reacts To Cheating Scandal

Usain Bolt's girlfriend has reacted to his night of passion with a Brazilian student, and near-constant wild nights out with a bevy of beauties since finishing the Olympics. Model Kasi Bennett, 26, who he refers to as his 'First Lady', has remained silent on claims her man has cheated following his victory at the Games. But now she appears to have thrown serious shade online, by liking a series of cutting comments from fans, and memes online hitting out at the...

FUNAAB Partners Police, DSS To Curb Security Challenges

The Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (FUNAAB), which last Thursday declared a seven-day mid-semester break for the Second Semester of 2015/2016 academ session, says it has taken steps to protect the lives and property of members of staff and students. Particularly, the school says it is partnering the state police command as well as the Department of State Services (DSS) in its bid to ensure that peace returns to the campus. The management-ordered break was after a violent protest by students,...

Niger Govt To Incorporate Sports In School Curriculum

The Niger State Government on Wednesday said it would incorporate sports into the curriculum of its primary and secondary schools. Mamman Bosso, the State Commissioner for Youths and Sports Development, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Minna that this would encourage talented youths to get acquainted at the early stage of their lives. “We are making arrangements to include sports into our primary and secondary education curriculum in order to develop grassroots sports. The state government will also rehabilitate...

Security Guard Strangles Salesgirl to Coma, Disappears With N2.1m Goods

The man identified as one Uchenna Okoh, has been arrested by the police. Okoh, a security guard, was arrested for alleged theft of goods worth N2.1m at a shop on Ikotun-Idimu Road, Lagos State. According to Punch Metro, the suspect had reportedly visited the shop – Finest Couture Boutique – on June 20 on the pretext that he wanted to buy jeans, shirts and shoes. In the process of...

Woman Who Brutalised Her Stepchildren Arrested in Kaduna

Police in Kaduna has arrested the stepmother who brutalized her two young stepchildren in NDC, IgabI local government area of the state. Hasiya Abubakar broke 2-year-old Abdulrahman's left hand and right leg, she also stabbed 4-year-old Maryam's head at their father's home. The children are currently receiving treatment at a private hospital in Kaduna. The Command's spokesman DSP Aliyu Usman, who confirmed the arrest said the woman said the woman is in the...

Pregnant Nigerian Woman Brutally Attacked and Robbed After Going Into Labour In London

Police today, August 24th, released an e-fit of mugger who attacked a Nigerian woman while she was in labour. The suspect punched her in the face and stole her phone as she tried to call her family. On June 26th, Patience Chukwu, 40, had left her home in north London to take a bus to hospital and was having contractions when the man swiped her Samsung Galaxy from her hands.

Chinese Couple Have Their Reception Dangling Below a 590 ft Tall Bridge

A Chinese couple marked their wedding day in their own special way by dangling underneath a glass bottom suspension bridge overlooking a deep valley. Bride Jiang Huizhu and groom Zhou Wenlong had their wedding on Tuesday, and descended onto a small platform attached to a bridge 180m (590 ft) above ground in Shiniuzhai National Geological Park in Hunan Province for the occasion.