by Robert Obioha
Nigeria should learn from the Eaglets’ recent soccer exploits in United Arab Emirate (UAE). The team selection is largely based on merit. There are Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Efik and many other tribes that made up the wining team. The first lesson to learn from our football, especially the current Eaglets, is that we must always field our best in politics, education, commerce and health.
This is undoubtedly the most successful year for the game of football in Nigeria’s soccer history. Reasons to say so abound. We won the African Cup of Nations early this year and we have upped it with winning the FIFA Under-17 World Cup. Last Saturday, the Super Eagles also qualified for the World Cup fiesta coming up in Brazil next year by defeating the Walyas Antelopes of Ethiopia. Nigerians are better united in football than in politics or religion.
Even in corruption, we are becoming sharply divided by tribe and religion. We now rationalize corruption based on tribal colours and sentiments. And because past corrupt people were not sanctioned adequately, more and more Nigerians will elect to be corrupt. After all, Nigeria’s money is nobody’s money. Quite alright, it is our money. So, you better go and grab yours before it finishes appears to be the new dictum in town and many are falling for it. Do you blame them where the easiest way to be rich is to be corrupt? That is why our politics has been monetized and only the rich and the brave can venture into.
Football unites us because it offers us momentary euphoria of unity. The current Eaglets fascinate me because their success is based on hard work, merit and not on quota system. Once the game is over and the celebration is over, we go back to our tribal cocoons and hatred entrenched and sustained by greedy politicians and religious over-zealots that abound in the country. It is exciting that after a long period of lull, it appears we are back on the football groove again. We are seemingly bouncing back to regional and global football reckoning once again. Despite our failings in virtually all other sectors of human development, there is hope that we are steadily getting our acts right in the round leather game.
Our soccer success’ resurgence is not a fluke and it is not borne out of mere wishful thinking or praying and fasting, the common fad among bible-believing churches that are all over Nigeria preaching damnation, salvation, riches and miracles all at the same time. Our new football form is due to fielding our best, hard work and adequate preparation.
Nigeria should learn from the Eaglets’ recent soccer exploits in United Arab Emirate (UAE). The team selection is largely based on merit. There are Hausa, Igbo, Yoruba, Efik and many other tribes that made up the wining team. The first lesson to learn from our football, especially the current Eaglets, is that we must always field our best in politics, education, commerce and health. If we want to achieve our set national goals, we must be prepared to put our best team forward. The significance of the soccer success is that Nigeria can work if we remove our ethnic colours and embrace our oneness as the Eaglets have done.
No football team wins without adequate preparation, discipline, team spirit and obeying the coach and other coaching crew. Every team that wins a global trophy might have aimed for such a goal and worked hard to achieve it. You do not set a goal and go to sleep or pray over it as some Nigerians would like to do. A prayerful life is desirable but it is not every human goal that should be achieved through prayers alone. Those who pray for success should not forget the work element. After psychologically fortifying yourself with Holy Ghost fire prayers that keep neigbhours awake, you go and work.
During the Eaglets matches, I saw a team desirous to achieve success. The boys were hungry for success. They were ready and willing to die on the filed of play. They did not mind having injury. The goalkeeper, Dele Alampasu, after the initial blunder due to non-exposure to such international game, learnt his lessons and improved with each game. He motivated the boys when morale appeared to be sagging. The most valuable player, Kelechi Iheanacho, was another great delight to behold. His mastery of the game and control of the ball was not in doubt.
He gave his best to the team and his country. Awoniyi Taiwo, Chidera Eze, Okon, Musa Mohammed and, in fact, every member of the team gave their best. This is one Nigerian team where every member is a potential scorer. The team succeeded because of their unity of purpose and cooperation. Theirs is a paradigm for the re-emergence of a new Nigeria where tribe and religion will be of no consequence to our national aspirations and goals. That is what our leaders should aim at and not the naira rain frenzy as if football is the latest discovery. Education is still our easy route to good life and development. Therefore government should invest more in education than football stars.
We will forge ahead as a strong nation if we put our acts together. The team selection should inform the choice of our political office holders including the elected and appointed ones. The Singaporean leader, Lee Kuan Yew’s selection of the best brains in his country to work with, should also serve as a template for Nigeria. Yew put his country’s most brilliant minds to lift his country from third world country to first.
Nigeria can equally do so if our best brains are put forward. We need to appoint the best brains as ministers and put them in key positions to achieve our desired goals. Every state in Nigeria need not produce a minister. We do not need 36 ministers to make Nigeria work. We do not need two ministers for one ministry. The duplication meant for political expediency does not augur well for development. Nigeria is the way it is simply because we never put our best team forward.
Nigeria cannot achieve its goal of becoming one of the 20 most industrialised nations in the world by 2020 if we do not put our best brains in key positions. We need experts to drive our industrial and economic dreams.
Since football has offered us a template for development, let us therefore appropriate it to redefine our approaches to developmental issues. The development of the country should not be left in the hands of politicians alone. All of us should work as a team in order to contribute meaningfully to the nation’s overall development. That way, we can reach our desired destination.