Saturday, 8 March 2014
RE: Goodluck Jonathan Withdraws Nigeria From Football Events For Two Years: Will Jonathan Withdraw From Office For Incompetent Leadership?
Dear Majek Adega, while I do not intend to join issues with you nor to glorify your "knee-jerk", arm-chair criticism of the decision of the President to withdraw Nigeria from Football events for 2yrs, but I want to point out a few facts you have with intent misrepresented. It will amount to disservice to millions of Nigerian whose hearts were broken following the failure of the Super Eagles at the World Cup Mundial to make a mockery of the govt’s decision. Lest we forget, Football is not the only sports event Nigeria participates in, so why the hullaballoo about the decision of the president?
Perhaps, if I were the President or had the ear of the President, my directive or candid advice would have been to disband the NFF and the national team and after that probe all the administrators involved. No doubt, they have failed despite enormous resources and free-hands to run things. Maybe we will hear that decision disbanding the NFF soonest. They have been the problem, not just the national team. However the problems cannot be tackled in isolation. All other sports are affected by the same bug that has bewitched our football. Nigeria’s poor performance at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games where Nigeria came home with: 0 –gold, 1 – silver and 3– bronze medals is a clear indicator that all is not well with our sport sector; just like every other sector. This is not to say that the records of previous years have been any good. From the 1952 Helsinki Games to 2008 Beijing Games, Nigeria has garner only: 2-gold, 8-Silver and 9 –bronze. What can be described as best performance of Nigeria in the Olympic Games was in Atlanta 1996 where Nigeria came away with: 2-gold, 1- silver and 3-bronze; one of the gold coming from football or Soccer as they call in this part of the world. What happened to that Atlanta spirit? This should form a national discourse by all stake-holders, which the President has initiated.
The poor performance of the national team at the World Cup Mundial is no doubt a reflection of the national decay and I so rightly agree with you on this, but to suggest that the President’s action is “knee-jerk” is to say the least. You are probably of the school of thought that says - do nothing, let’s continue to patch the cracks while many more Nigerians die from heart-attack watching the national team dash their hopes and expectations. In the last two decades Nigerians all over the world have come to love football, be it the national team or clubs in renowned leagues in Europe and elsewhere. They are ardent followers of their teams and when they are winning or losing so do the pendulum swing.
In your article, which for reasons best known to you, you decided to mix football with politics of the President’s trip Canada last weekend, are you suggesting that everything else that has bedevilled Nigeria in the last decades should be blamed on President Goodluck Jonathan? While not making excuses for the President political decisions, your suggestion that he shouldn’t have disband the national team, is so unconscionable and does not reflect the mood of the nation. Every Nigerian- home and in Diaspora, is dissatisfied with the running of our football vis-a- vis the performance of the Super Eagles in the on-going FIFA World Cup. Thus the decision of the President, though maybe flayed in some respect, is a step in the right direction. Time to revamp our football administration is now! Mr President did the right thing.
Our football is being administered by a select few, not millions of Nigeria as you tend to portray in this statement “but 150 million people are involved in what I call the greatest conspiracy on earth – the conspiracy to conceal the true age of our players” There is no gain restating the fact that NFF is a federation of fraud and this has been going on for years, not because Nigerian have not exposed the rote in the system. Thankfully, you mentioned Adokiye Amiesimaka’s (a well respected senior brother) outburst on Fortune Chukwudi’s age scam. Majek, 150 million Nigerians were not involved in this scam, only a few did and that is what Mr. President is set to correct. We need to support his courage to say: stop! let’s do a reality check and find solutions before we move on.
In Paragraph 5 of your piece, your comparison of ban on Okada and withdrawing of the national team from FIFA events is like comparing carrot and apple. I will take you on Okada ban. What you also fail to emphasize is that since the banning of Okada in some state of the country, millions of Nigerians who don’t own cars also get around on daily basis (the Rivers State example). As rich as Nigeria, Nigerian don’t deserve Okada as means of transportation. In other developing countries not anywhere as endowed as Nigeria, people get around in decent mass transit buses or train system, cheap enough for everyone. That is what we should advocate not okada as means of transportation. Majek do some research and find out how many innocent Nigerians have either lost their lives or their limb(s) resulting from okada accident, not to mention the crimes committed with ease using okada as quick getaway. It’s awful and alarming Majek. I support the banning of okada nationwide. It’s a menace. Government at all levels should encourage private sector participation in the provision of decent means of transportation for Nigerians who can’t afford to buy and drive cars. Okada as a means of transportation is dehumanizing. Majek much as you are entitled to your opinion, please stop promoting such ideas in this 21st Century when the rest of
the world is talking about high speed rail system and decent mass transit busses.
There is no doubt every facet of our national life has taken a nose dive, our football and other sports included. We must reform now and part of that process is to stop the quasi- system that has never worked and do an in-house clean up. Will this decision go down well with all Nigerians including FIFA? No. At the same time, I know it will interest most Nigerians that we have a football administration body that is managed by experienced hands. Persons who are incorruptible and have national interest at heart. Persons who know that Football has become the opium of the people. In this regard therefore, we should encourage the President by proffering ideas and suggestion rather than this arm-chair criticism of everything he does without laying out the way forward.
This is the same president who withdrew his INEC nominees because the masses were dissatisfied with the persons he nominated. This is the same president who nominated our own Prof. Atahiru Jega to man INEC. These are indicative of the fact that he is a man with an ear to the ground. Providence has put so much on the shoulders of President GoodLuck Jonathan. He is not a miracle man; neither should anyone expect miracles because there are fundamental problems with Nigeria which requires tough decision making. One of such decisions is what he has made and the like of Majek are already crying wolf.
There is no taking away the fact that it is hard and unimaginable to deny Nigerians the fun of the game they love most for 2yrs but we have to get it right now; doesn’t matter who makes the decision which today happens to be President Goodluck Jonathan. If President Goodluck cannot make far reaching decision that will impact our national life and psyche as a people then he is not worth occupying that seat as a President. He has demonstrated he can, so let’s give him a chance. Governance is a serious business especially for a country like Nigeria that is comatose in every sphere of endeavor.
Let us support the Presidents efforts, not forgetting the fact that as watch-dogs of our society, we owe the people the right to know what is going on and we must do this constructively, proffering alternatives rather than these easier said than done critique.
Fubara, Shed. - A youth activist, public affairs commentator and President Emeritus –NUOS writes from Alberta, Canada.