Nigerian Football's Failure In South Africa: It's Just The Way We Are As A Nation

I was amused when I read about the latest action of the Federal Government on the Super Eagles’ World Cup flop and I was desperately saddened because we have acted again to demonstrate the way we are. We have had several attempts at using the fire brigade approach to quench the fires we have in our national life but when the real fire brigade is actually needed in the area where they specialise, we see monumental failure looming large in our faces. We all know they love to blow their sirens all over and even in the opposite direction of the fire occurrence only to announce to us later that there is no water nor foam to fight the fire.
In strategic management, problems are identified and solutions are sought. In fact alternative scenarios are developed as a way of prognosticating and making sure that one is not caught out by unforeseen developments; this is not so in my dear country. It’s now my thesis that we are mere reactionists; I wanted to say reactionaries but my readers may consider this too strong but it’s the way I feel. Unfortunately our problems persist because we either do not recognise them and are therefore unable to find solutions or we adopt the wrong approach in the process of implementing the solutions. Very often, we even act like a property developer who employs demolition experts in the process of construction. How then can we make headway?

It is in this light that I see the recent banning order of the Federal Government. For the sake of undisguised cynicism I will like to applaud President Goodluck for his promptness in seeking to excise the sore from the body; after all it doesn’t matter even if the heart of the being is in the very part that is being sequestered. I wish to advise that since we now know all our problems we must therefore seek a final solution. For starters let’s ban the Presidency since it has failed us woefully. There is no power supply, no hospitals and our roads are veritable death traps, yet, the commonest denominator of our national currency now is the billion Naira for most projects. It is only in Nigeria that we can devote N65,000,000,000 just for a four kilometre airport runway and it can be explained away with presidential fiat! Now that the Senate and House of Representatives are bickering about how much largesse in multimillions to award to themselves for jobs not well done, maybe we should ban them for 5 years. I think we should lengthen the period since they feel they should be rewarded more for their profligacy than the loyal public servant who works for 35 years and gets a fraction of what our national looters award themselves legally for services `duly rendered`. Since our Governors are mere foreign currency exchange specialists we should ban them for 10 years. How about NEPA (sorry PHCN), How about NNPC, FERMA, and the almighty Nigerian Police Farce (oh yes), should I mention Customs?  The list goes on and on. Finally since Nigeria herself cannot guarantee the most basic of human amenities, we should just ban her for the next century. That way our problems will end and we would have given fillip to those agitators who have never seen anything good in the Nigerian project.

Radical and unconventional as these might seem  the Federal Government’s  actions are the veritable actions of an ostrich: hide, hide and hide : divert the attention from our real selves and look for scapegoats and we would have solved our national problems. We can even manufacture scapegoats if we can’t find any. This is scapegoatism at it very best! Maybe we should adopt it as our national ideology. After all we won’t have any reasons to argue anymore once we do it democratically.

In March this year I wrote an article entitled, “Welcome Mr Lagerback” and I made bold to predict that the debacle will continue and the Super Eagles will return from South Africa in disgrace against my sentimental patriotic desire. I wasn’t too bothered because of the “Tokunbo” man’s scandalous $1.5m pay for 5 months work when our dear home-based Shuaib Amodu was reportedly being paid $10,000 per month. However, when I read that the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) was commending Lagerback for a job well done I was asking myself, which job? They even had the temerity to ask that the poor man continue with the “building” process. What has changed? Nothing, except the fact that our integrity as a nation has been further debased and we have become a laughing stock for the rest of the world. We may wish to console ourselves that even big nations like Italy, England, Portugal and mighty France failed woefully. Good for them, but will they be commendable company to keep?

They’ll surely be if we do what they too will be doing in the coming days and months. We have seen many of their football administrators resign without any prompting and when the inquisitions are completed we shall see the heights to which they will all attain. For us, the bottom will be our abode if we don’t toe the path of structural development in all areas. I would have advocated that the NFF be disbanded but since FIFA in all its wisdom will not let us, why not set up a parallel body to oversee sports development in general? After all, the decay is not in football alone, it permeates all our sports and even beyond into our very soul as a nation. Will FIFA punish us for setting up sports academies all over the place where young men and women are groomed. Even Area Boys and ex-militants with undiscovered talents may end up as millionaires once they hit it big. Are the stars enjoying prominence today any better? That will at least keep some of them off the streets for good.

The Federal Government  must have a rethink of its strategy. Why punish the Flying Eagles and the Golden Eaglets for the perceived sins of their grandpas? We live in a new dispensation. Even the Bible says in Jeremiah 18: 2-4, "What do you mean when you use this proverb concerning the land of Nigeria, saying: 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes and the children's teeth are set on edge'?  "As I live," says the Lord GOD, "you shall no longer use this proverb in Nigeria.  "Behold, all souls are Mine; The soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine; The soul who sins shall die”.

For starters, ask Samson Siasia to assemble his Olympic Eagles and constitute them into the new Super Eagles. Then set up regular training camps and arrange top-flight international friendlies. Only inject fresh blood when discovered and let’s build again. That’s the way forward.

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