by ‘Ifreke Inyang
Last week on Rubbin Minds, the focus was on Literature and Sports. Shade Ladipo, who presented the show alone as her regular co-anchor, Chude Jideonwo wasn’t available, took us through the news that make the headlines last week. After the break which followed, her first guest, Mai Nasara joined in.
Mai was announced as the winner of NLNG Literature Prize this year for his book, The Missing Clock. “I was speechless,” he recalls. “I said to myself, ‘ so this is what it means to be speechless’”. “Hope springs eternally in the human heart and I was hopeful to the end,” the writer whose real name is Adeleke Adeyemi said calmly. The money attached to the prize is $100,000, but for Mai, it is about the new standards he has to meet. “The spotlight has been scorching. There is a taller order now. Everybody is looking out for my next book.” He also confirmed he will not be leaving his day job anytime soon.
On the next segment, we had three young men, Abiola Aloba, a Sports event organizer; Biola Kazeem, a Sports Analyst and writer; and Sayo, who is a sports pundit on Inspiration FM, who all came to discuss the present state of the nation’s sport department.
“The failure to qualify for the Nations Cup shows the low point where we are in Sports,” Biola Kazeem stated emphatically. In Sayo’s opinion, “Everybody has a role to play in our recent troubles, including Siasia.” He however quickly added that he wasn’t really keen on crisis or talk of it. “I’m indifferent to the crisis. I just want to see the Super Eagles play beautiful football,” he said. Abiola Aloba agreed with him. “Football is the only thing that surmounts even fuel crisis,” he chipped in.
One of the problems they all pointed out was the issue of age cheats. “From our 1999 team, the only people we can point to are Yobo, Aghahowa and Rabiu Afolabi,” Abiola Aloba said. Biola Kazeem felt that it was the overriding need to win at all cost that makes us cheat, pointing out that other countries focus on development from the grassroots instead. “Egypt has never won the U-17 competition but they have won the Nations Cup 7 times,” he analysed. Another issue was the neglect of female football. “The female team have been cheated and marginalised. They are the worse victims of mismanagement,” Abiola Aloba lamented. “A female player once complained that what they were getting was so little, she couldn’t afford toiletries!”
At the end of the day, the general consensus is for government to remove their hands from football. But in Biola Kazeem’s words, “We can only start reducing government’s involvement and hope it will be non-existent in five years.”