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

#OMOJUWAFICTION: FOR WANT OF A CHILD.(XV)-@SEUNODUKOYA

Fola couldn’t hide his excitement. “Man! Isn’t this what you’ve been praying – “ He saw Frank’s frown and corrected himself. “ – what we’ve been praying for? I don’t understand. Why aren’t you bringing the house down with excited noise?” Frank sighed. “You don’t understand…” “Oga, I am not a woman. Make me understand. What is the issue?” ******************************************************************************************** “You’re pregnant?” Sofia, standing away from Frank, nodded. He rushed towards her excitedly and carried her off the ground, swinging her around and...

Senate May Revoke Lands Allocated To Jonathan, Others

The Senate Committee on Federal Capital Territory, on Friday, threatened to order the immediate revocation of plots of land allocated to former President Goodluck Jonathan and 29 others in the Maitama district of Abuja.     The Chairman, Senator Dino Melaye, who stated this during a budget defence by the FCT ministry led by its Minister, Muhammed Bello, said the affected plots of land were in a reserved area.     Melaye said the plots of land allocated to Jonathan and others in the Maitama...

SSANU Suspends Strike

The Senior Staff Association of Nigerian Universities (SSANU) has suspended its one month old industrial action and directed its members to return to work on Monday.     The National President of the association, Mr Samson Ugwoke, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos of the developments on telephone on Friday.     Ugwoke told NAN that the resolution to suspend the strike was taken after the association met with officials of the Ministry of Labour and other concerned stakeholders on Feb. 2.   "We...

FG Plans Nationwide Campaign For Made-in-Nigeria Products

The Minister of State for Industry, Trade and Investment, Hajia Aisha Abubakar, on Friday in Abuja said that the ministry would soon launch a nationwide to encourage Nigerians to patronise made-in Nigieria products.     Abubakar stated this at the signing of a footwear production agreement between Global Smartfit Nigeria Ltd and Labora Shoes Ltd of South Africa in her office.     The campaign is tagged, '' Patronise Naija Products’’.     Represented by the Permanent Secretary in the ministry, Mr Aminu Bisala, the minister lauded the...

50,000 Farmers In Zamfara To Benefit From CBN Agric Loan – Commissioner

Over 50,000 farmers in Zamfara state are expected to benefit from the Anchor Borrower’s loan programme introduced by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN).     Hajiya Fatima Shinkafi, the Commissioner of Commerce and Industry, made the disclosure on Friday in Gusau in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN).     She said that the Anchor borrower’s programme was introduced by the federal government through the CBN in collaboration with state governments to assist Nigerians farmers boost food production.     "The programme was launched...

NNPC To Establish 800 Retail Outlets

The Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) is set to establish 800 additional retail outlets across the country, Dr Babatunde Adeniran, the Group Executive Director has said.     He spoke on Friday in Ilorin, when he led the NNPC team on a courtesy visit to Gov. Abdulfatah Ahmed of Kwara at the Governor's Lodge.     He said that out of the 800 stations, three retail outlets would be established across the senatorial districts of Kwara.     Adeniran said already 503 retail stations had been established across...

Nigeria-China Trade Volume Exceeded $13bn In 2015 – Envoy

China has said that its trade volume with Nigeria exceeded $13 billion in 2015.   The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr Gu Xiaojie, said this at a reception to mark 45 years of diplomatic relations between both countries in Abuja on Thursday night.   Xiaojie explained that both countries had strengthened bilateral relations since 1971.   "China and Nigeria have enjoyed longstanding friendly exchanges 45 years ago on February 10, 1971 since the two countries established diplomatic relations. In 1971, the bilateral trade volume was only...

Nigeria’s 2015 GDP, Lowest In 15 Years – Adeosun

The Minister of Finance, Mrs Kemi Adeosun on Friday said the growth recorded by the country in the 2015 fiscal period was the lowest in the last 15 years.     Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product grew by 2.84 per cent year on year in real terms in the third quarter of last year.     The growth of 2.84 per cent represents an increase of 0.49 percentage points when compared to the 2.35 per cent recorded in the second quarter of 2015.     Adeosun said in a...

World Condom Day: Foundation To Distribute 500,000 Condoms In FCT

The AIDS Health Care Foundation (AHF), an NGO, says it will distribute 500,000 condoms in the FCT as part of activities to commemorate the 2016 World Condom Day.     The Site Coordinator of AHF Clinic, Dr Kena Onu, made this known in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja on Friday.     He said that the distribution of the condoms, with other activities lined up for this year’s occasion, would help increase awareness on the use of condom and...

Kogi Govt., NLC In Fresh Row Over Salary Arrears

The Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC) Kogi chapter, has said that the state workforce would not participate in the fresh screening as ordered by the government.     The state chairman of NLC, Mr Onuh Edoka, made the statement on Thursday in Lokoja while addressing a press conference.   He gave the government up till Feb. 10 to pay the Sept. 2015 salaries of workers or face industrial action.     Edoka accused the government of insincerity in its dealing with workers.     He said that the issue of fresh...

Rihanna To Perform At The Grammys

Ok it's official, Bad Girl Riri is going to lit the upcoming 58th Grammys Award. The diva shared the news on her Instagram page. The 58th Grammys Award will be held on the 15th of February. See her post below:

Tinubu Withdraws Suit Against AIT After Apology For Embarrassing Documentary

The African Independent Television has apologized to Bola Tinubu, a national leader of the ruling All Progressives Congress, for a documentary it aired before last year’s general election. In a letter of apology tendered before a Lagos High Court on Friday, Daar Communications, the owners of the TV station, said they hold Mr. Tinubu in high esteem. “Daar Communications Plc acknowledges that Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu is an outstanding political leader of unblemished character and...

Muslim Teen Defies Tradition To Become First Hijab-Wearing Ballerina

With a dream of becoming the first hijab-wearing Muslim ballerina, 14-year-old Stephanie Kurlow recently launched a fundraising page in the hopes of pulling together more than $7,000 so she can get her certification to open a performing arts program in her native Sydney because, she has said, “I don’t want certain people who are discriminatory to hold anyone back from achieving their dreams and being unique.”

Harvard Psychologist Says This Surprising Trait Can Make You More Successful

While researching her new book, "Presence," Harvard Business School professor Amy Cuddy interviewed a number of venture capitalists about what personal qualities successful entrepreneurs demonstrate. Perhaps the most striking observation she collected was this: "I don't mind if they're a little bit nervous; they're doing something big, something that matters to them, so it makes sense they'd be a little bit nervous." In the book, Cuddy outlines two key reasons why...

Earth, Wind & Fire Founder, Maurice White, Dies At 74

 Earth, Wind & Fire founder Maurice White, whose horn-driven band sold more than 90 million albums and made hits like “September,” “Shining Star” and “Boogie Wonderland,” died Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles, his brother Verdine said. White, who was 74, suffered from Parkinson’s Disease and had retreated from the...

See This Puzzle That Children Solve Instantly But Adults Find It Hard

A simple logic puzzle can bamboozle a lot of adults - but 80% of children can solve it near-instantly, National Geographic has said. The puzzle is this - which way is the bus going? The identical windows at each end of the bus seem to offer no clue as to...

Nicki Minaj Teases Miley Cyrus & Kylie Jenner In Her New Remix

It's been more than five months since the VMAs and Nicki Minaj's now-iconic "Miley what's good," but the incident is still fresh enough in her mind to make it into a new remix of Yo Gotti's "Down in the DM." In her verse, she mentions Miley, Kylie Jenner, and Bill O'Reilly all in the span of three lines, because that's how a master works. First, Kylie, in a line that compares her famous lips to Nicki's,...

See What This VAGINAL WEIGHT LIFTER Does To Prove That Vaginas Are Strong, Claims It Enhances Multiple Orgasms

Kim Anami is a 44-year-old intimacy coach and vaginal weight lifter who claims she can lift up to 10 pounds with nothing but her genital muscles and can have up to 20 orgasms in a row. She just ties a thin piece of string to a jade egg (which in Chinese medicine is thought to have healing reproductive properties), inserts the egg into her vagina, and then she's got an extra set of ... something that can carry anything from...

Osinbajo Takes Over As Acting President As Buhari Begins Short Vacation

President Mohammadu Buhari has begun a short vacation today. A statement by Special Adviser to Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, says that while Buhari is away, the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo will perform the functions of the President. The statement added that in compliance with Section 145 (1) of the Nigerian Constitution, President Buhari has dispatched a formal notice of his vacation to the Senate President and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.

See How Much Buhari Saved Using TSA

President Buhari says he has so far saved 2.2 trillion Naira using the Treasury Single Account (TSA). The President gave the revelation while interacting with a cross section of the Nigerian community in the United Kingdom on the side-line of the Supporting Syria Conference in London. He berated the past administration for operating several accounts with which they siphoned money belonging to Nigerians vowing not to relent in the fight against corruption. President Buhari...

Nigeria-China Trade Volume Exceeds $13 Billion In 2015- Envoy

The Chinese Ambassador to Nigeria, Gu Xiaojie, said this at a reception to mark 45 years of diplomatic relations between both countries in Abuja on Thursday night. Mr. Xiaojie explained that both countries had strengthened bilateral relations since 1971. “China and Nigeria have enjoyed longstanding friendly exchanges 45 years ago on February 10, 1971 since the two countries established diplomatic relations. “In 1971, the bilateral trade volume was only $10 million, nowadays the bilateral...