The Hullabaloo about football

I write in the face of all the noise and drama that has ensued since the senior national football team, the Stephen Keshi-led Super Eagles defeated the Burkina Faso team in the final of the Africa nations cup called ACFON 2013. With that triumph, the team reached the apogee level of success in African football, thus earning the bragging rights of being champions of the continent for the next two years.
Ever since the Super Eagles qualified for the knockout stages, there has been applauds & plaudits alike from Nigerians and every section of the media. Praises came from even those who never expected the team to reach the knockout stage, not to talk of even making any meaningful impact at the tournament. In fact, how many Nigerians actually believed from the outset that the Super Eagles could actually win the African tourney, the biggest competition in African football? I’m sure only about 10 per cent of the population did as it looked like a chimera. Many thought the chipolopolos of Zambia were going to crush us like chickens. A friend told me the match would be a massacre on Nigeria!
Well, I don’t blame anyone for losing hope in their country judging by the way things are being run by the administrators. But I’m proud to say I was among the 10 per cent who were optimistic of our chances in the tournament. I was always looking out for Emmanuel Emenike who I believe is Rashidi Yekini’s modernized version, a prototype. That is for another day though.
The Super Eagles were compensated with 30,000 dollars per player after they qualified for the knockout stages. This proved to be an important morale booster, especially for players like Sunday Mba who play in the Nigerian league. We all saw how the young man peaked since that match against the Ivorien team in the quarter final. Also, after the Eagles triumphed on Sunday, President Jonathan at a special reception held in honour of the team on Tuesday evening rewarded the players, technical & coaching crew with national Honours, plots of land in Abuja & several millions of naira.
Now, no one says it is bad to appreciate heroes who have defended their country’s pride with zeal and moxie. Indeed, if Nigeria is to go back to her roots and achieve the dream of our founding fathers, then there is the need to always honour our heroes. But what of earlier footballers like Haruna Ilerika, Sam Okwaraji who died playing for Nigeria, Sam Ojebode who never owned a house till he died, or even Yekini who died pitiably not too long ago? Who will repay these soccer warriors? Yekini had to take a job as player/coach at lowly Shooting stars to support himself for a while before his body finally couldn’t hold it. He never got the promised benefits the federal government made to him and his colleagues for the triumph in 1994, yet everyone is proud to say Nigeria had not won the Nations cup since 19 years ago! Have we compensated the people who made us proud then?
The team that made us all proud now consists of a 23-man squad, the coach and his assistants, and the technical crew. We all know Nigeria consists of well above 160 million Nigerians, while the vast majority of the citizens continue to wallow in absolute poverty compared to the luxuries a tiny minority of the same population enjoys. The poor gets poorer while the rich gets richer & live beyond the wildest dreams of the common man. Part of this unnecessary luxury was what was displayed on national television at the special reception for the Super Eagles on Tuesday. Only God knows how many billions of naira will go into that dinner, aside the money given to the team. All this in the face of the fact that many people in Nigeria live below one dollar per day!
The truth be said or not, an average civil servant will never be close to his children until he retires as he has to resume work by 8am everyday, which means you must have woken before your kids wake. Yet, these people are the poorest in the society! Imagine a policeman armed with a barrel to protect lives of the citizens earning so little as 18,000 naira as salary! How will he not accept bribes? President Goodluck Jonathan is never going to win any war against corruption unless he put attention to matters that will change the lives of the poor majority.
Everyday, our ears are filled with stories of millions and billions in the government or individual’s coffers with nothing meaningful coming out of it. What is 5 million naira to a Mikel Obi who earns about 60,000 pounds weekly at Chelsea FC in England? But that same amount of money will change a lot of lives forever in this country. As a student, I cannot recall the last time a major scholarship award was organized was organized by the Federal government to encourage exceptional students! Is it that nobody is brilliant again? No, the thing is that nobody in government really want us to learn so that we don’t challenge their authority with our knowledge. I leave everybody to their conscience.


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