(BEFORE THE GAME): “We are very prepared, we don’t need any extra motivation for this game because we all want to be at the World cup, so we are looking forward to the game and very prepared for it” – Joseph Yobo
“All we want from our fellow Nigerians are their support and prayers because this may in the end be a game of luck. It is surely going to be tough” – Kan Nwankwo

(AFTER THE GAME): “Before this match, we had our fate in our hands, but the way it is now, it is very, very difficult; it is no longer in our hands” – Coach Amodu Shuaibu
“We sincerely apologise to all Nigerians….We were equally shocked by the outcome of the match” – NFF Chairman, Sani Lulu

Is there something at the heart of Nigeria’s rottenness today, which makes the dashing of our hopes the only certainty we can harvest? Why has our country become a cemetery of hopes and the meat grinder which takes happiness through a mill of excruciating pains? Could it be that those of us who attempt to document Nigeria and its problems do not even understand the depth of the rot which Nigeria has become- in all facets of our national life? Nigeria’s maiden of hope and honour was left in the care of serial rapists, thugs and bandits masquerading as rulers and things have gone completely awry!

Last weekend, Nigeria’s national team, the “Super” Eagles had what appeared a very clear task: defeat Tunisia, and seize the initiative to qualify us for the FIRST World Cup on the African continent! It seemed a simple assignment, at least from a conceptual perspective. What was needed was for the team to find the organization and professionalism to execute the task, against the backdrop of the potential rewards they could earn for themselves; but above all, for the patriotic emotions of the 140 million people of Nigeria! It was not just a game and it never gets any bigger than last Sunday’s. Nigerians were mobilized but ended with the heart-rending experience of watching a national team clearly devoid of passion, the tactical nous and even the physical conditioning to achieve a very clear task: Beat Tunisia!

The Tunisians had a definitive game plan which they courageously implemented. They got a draw just as our team chose to snatch defeat from the jaws of imminent victory. In the end, the team left our hopes badly shattered. It was déjà vu; because just three years ago, we needed to beat Angola in Kano to be sure of our chances of playing in the 2006 World Cup, and just like Sunday, the team did same to our hopes: dashed them! And like then, many are on the delusionary trip of “hoping” that Tunisia would falter, and somehow, Nigeria will sneak through the back door, into the December draws, in Cape Town. I think that will not happen; the combined irresponsibility of the team and handlers; a corrupt NFF and the philosophic environment in our country have ensured that we have come a cropper in trying to qualify for the World Cup.

Nigeria is truly the Federal Republic of amnesia! The structure of our national life has become so riddled with the attitude which discounts thinking through problems but valorizes an ad hoc approach; we do not painstakingly plan because the rigours associated with education, the scientific method and task setting have gradually retreated from our national life. The Nigerian ruling class is a thieving band of philistines, and since what reigns today is the cult of money, it is far easier to throw money at problems! Not for our ruling class a root and branch study of the problems which confront us and then securing the national expertise to find the patriotic solutions for such problems. In the case of the prosecution of this World Cup campaign, the Yar’adua regime set up a Presidential Task Force which has raised  over N800 million; but they have been far more concerned about raising the level of bonuses payable to the players; even the disastrous game against Tunisia, earned each player a handsome ten thousand dollars each! This is despite the emotional cliff hanger inflicted on every Nigerian.

The basic questions are not asked; the fact that dollars will not purchase a patriotic attitude nor turn around the rot in administration of the game and the technical ineptitude of the coaching crew means little. It is just like the billions being spent to host the Under-17 tournament, while forgetting that Nigeria needs a team for the event. The normal service of using over-age players was already being perfected until FIFA introduced MRI scanning and pronto, almost half of the Nigerian team was discovered to be over-age! Panic sets in, because those salivating over the billions they will cream off now know that Nigerians might scrutinize their affairs closely. Meanwhile, the NFF remains a notorious den of corruption and nepotism, where the controversial Amos Adamu has installed several of his cronies and relations, some of whom were directly accused of responsibility for the disappearance of hundreds of thousands of dollars!

This is the ambience within which our hopes for World Cup participation suffered a serious setback, last Sunday. Nigeria is dying by installments as a result of the choices which our ruling class made over the past quarter of a century. Corruption has eaten the soul of our nation, and no matter where we turn, the landscape is littered with incompetence; ineptitude and the dearth of know how. Education is a joke and the rational attitude which is the product of a critical educational process has given way to false religiousity and a crass fatalism; that is why each time the national team is to play, we are mobilized to PRAY for the team. As if other nations don’t pray! The Prophet Muhammad used to tell his followers to believe in Allah, but they should also tie their camels! In Nigeria, we have vulgarised belief and do not tie our camels! That is why we lurch from crisis to crisis, and like headless chickens, we harvest dashed hopes and the deep frustrations of living in a country whose football team will have an objective but cannot hold a slim advantage till the final whistle.  In matters of disappointing the citizenry, the “Super” Eagles are just like Nigeria!

Recently, VP Jonathan said, “Corruption is due to insecurity as most people accumulate wealth for fear of the future”. Interestingly, “in one month while (governor) the EFCC seized from his wife, N104 million…. That was August 2006, and the EFCC obtained a court order to freeze (the) N104 million….  Weeks later, on September 11, 2006, the EFCC seized $13.5 million from the same woman…. Nobody has ever said another word about these… monies…. (On becoming) Vice-President, Jonathan (also)... declare (d) his assets… put at a… conservative N295 million.  But… since (he was) Governor of Bayelsa for only 17 months, the arithmetic suggested he had grown pretty quickly, at over N17 million monthly”, according to Sonala Olumhense. Was that accumulating for “fear of the future”?

[email protected]
0805. 9100368 [SMS TEXTS ONLY]


You may also like

Read Next