Let me begin with an apology. Two weeks ago in this column, I inadvertently stated that in last year’s governorship contest in Ekiti State, Ayo Fayose defeated Kayode Fayemi in Akure. I had meant to say Ado-Ekiti; Akure is the capital of Ondo State. I apologize.
I follow with an appeal…to Stephen Keshi, the former and possibly future coach of Nigeria’s national soccer team, the Super Eagles: walk away.
There is a time to fight, just as there is a time to walk away. For me, the time is right for the former Cup of Nations winner to walk away. Actually, the walking away is a little late, but if Keshi made that move now, he will still be able to win a few championships in the hearts of his admirers.
I am a Keshi fan. I watched him passionately in his playing days, especially at the famous New Nigeria Bank of Benin City, and in the Super Eagles.
As a coach, I have written in his support on several occasions. On February 25, 2012, in this column, I said he was “Reinventing The Super Eagles”, and applauded his efforts to rebuild the team, beginning with the local players. At least one previous coach had said no players were good enough on the domestic scene.
Keshi proved differently, as several players from the local league won shirts in the team on his way to the cup in 2013, a feat Nigeria had not accomplished in decades.
The painful truth is that the team seems to have peaked at that point, subsequently putting up sub-par performances in the Confederations Cup and the World Cup that followed. Beyond the World Cup, Nigeria could not even qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations to defend her championship.
Had Keshi won one of those championships or even put up a credible showing, there might have been an argument now for letting him continue. As much as I have supported him for many years, and in view of the pathetic relationship he enjoys with the Nigeria Football Federation, all of the talk about giving him a new contract is meaningless.
Keshi has peaked, as has the team under him. He should not expect a new contract; if offered one, he should not sign it. Nigeria is bigger and more important than any coach, player or administrator, and Keshi now appears to be the biggest obstacle to the sport.
I turn to the Lagos State House of Assembly, where a “greed bill” has been introduced to provide a life of opulence for the Speaker and the Deputy Speaker when they leave.
Should it become law, the occupants of those chairs will take from taxpayers a pension for life that is the equivalent of their annual salary; a free house anywhere they choose in Lagos State; and a free car.
Among others, they will also pocket unlimited allowances for furnishing their free homes; and receive security personnel and free medical treatment for themselves and their families for life. They will enjoy a separate entertainment allowance—as well as home maintenance allowances—each category calculated at 10 percent of the base salary of the official. There is also a utility allowance is at 20 percent of their base salary.
The largesse being shamelessly cornered by the leadership of the House is reminiscent of last year’s Akwa Ibom swindle by Governor Goodswill Akpabio. In his State Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Bill 2014, which repealed the 2006 Governors and Deputy Governors Pension Law, he arranged an annual pay of N200 million for the governor (with slightly smaller provisions for the deputy governor), at the rate of a monthly pension for life that is equivalent to his current salary.
He also wanted, and got, a five-bedroom mansion in Abuja or Akwa Ibom for the Governor and a yearly accommodation allowance of 300 percent of annual basic salary for the deputy; the construction of a mansion as a retirement home; and furnishing. New cars for as long as the former governor lives; up to $50,000.00 per month allegedly to hire cooks, chauffeurs and security guards; free medical services for himself and his spouse put at about “N100 million or an equivalent of $600,000.00.'
There was much, much more. Governor Akpabio, knowing that a true armed robber never announces his schedule for fear of giving prospective victims the opportunity to resist, asked the legislator to pass the bill, pronto. For a few pieces of silver, they gave him everything he wanted.
Akpabio’s executive heist, on which he begins to collect three months from now, seems to have provided guidance for the leading “legislooters” of Lagos. The difference is that Akpabio is of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), which has never been shy in front of the public till. It is the All Progressives Congress (APC) which has claimed a higher ethical ground.
Shame on APC should it attempt to retreat into silence on this. Unless you call your greedy, errant Lagos State chapter into line, you should put your “change” claim up for sale, and Lagosians would be encouraged to vote PDP in next month’s elections. Democracy’s diapers, like politicians, must be changed when they are dirty.
Now: Musiliu Obanikoro.
Again, there is a time to walk…away. This former Minister and former ambassador of the Federal Republic of Nigeria has sadly been re-nominated for the federal cabinet.
In view of the election-rigging allegations against Obanikoro, President Goodluck Jonathan should never have nominated him. He is legally innocent until proven guilty, but it would be an insult to the concept of political decency and an insult to the people of Nigeria he will serve, if he were confirmed by the Senate despite the allegations.
The Upper House might satisfy the presidency and the PDP by doing that dirty job, but its collusion would be a massive blow to the credibility of the institution.
Obanikoro, like Keshi, should walk away, thereby earning a little respect as he attempts to prove his innocence. Unless that is done, neither he nor President Jonathan will smell good.
Furthermore, even if Obanikoro were to gain the Ministerial chair, the odds are that he will sit on it for no longer than three months. He should ask his family if they are willing to exchange a lifetime of embarrassment for three months on the cocktail circuit.
As they say in America, this is really a “no-brainer”, which is a good time to talk about talk brains. Not brains as in “intelligent”, but as in “brain-dead”.
Do you know what brain-dead is? Brain-dead is when—entering an election your spouse or principal is poised to lose—you stand in front of a television camera and describe the opponent who might defeat him and assume executive control of your files of being brain-dead.
Brain-dead is when you fail to understand that being brain-dead is a medical condition that only two sets of people can determine. The first: highly-trained specialists who are actually highly-trained; the other, a flippant, runaway tongue lacking proof it is attached to anything.