by Yomi Kazeem
This, for obvious reasons, might anger Arsenal fans. However it is important to state that it was written from the perspective of a soccer neutral without bias for any of Arsenal’s adversaries. It should read as what it is – A pure piece of literature. Enjoy.
On August 28, soccer fans witnessed a demolition of Arsenal FC happily carried out by Manchester United FC. 8-2 read the scoreboard. For Alex Ferguson, it was a big triumph. In his 26th year in charge of Manchester United, he was still kicking; his fledglings were showing maturity that belied their young years. The crowd was euphoric. All was well. For the man on the other part of the touchline, Arsene Wenger, it was an unpleasant hybrid of anguish and shame. How do you explain, into a TV camera that has cynics on the receiving end of its transmission, that you lost 8-2? His side failed in spectacular fashion, leaving the Arsenal faithful resentful and beleaguered. It was almost an unbelievable sight. However, for Nigerians, it’s not one we haven’t seen before.
Drawing comparisons between Arsene Wenger and the Nigerian government reveals a number of similarities because though they are on two different continents, they have recently shared appalling traits. The only difference is while Wenger has, in times past, been an architect of some success and enjoys a shred – if there is any left – of legendary status, the same cannot be said of the Nigerian government.
Just like Wenger, when everyone else sees that which is starkly obvious, the government fails to see it; it turns a blind eye. No, Wenger cannot see that the Arsenal defence bears more than a semblance to the Zaire team of the 1974 World Cup; neither can he see the need for experience in the team. No, the Nigerian government cannot see how bad Nigeria is doing and looking. State governments cannot fathom the reason to pay the minimum wage as Wenger does not understand why he has to pay top dollar for quality players when he can get 16 and 17 year olds instead. When it is criticized, like Wenger is lately, the government feigns surprise, shock and issue-specific amnesia. Accepting that they are wrong is a brain function they are both incapable of. Doctors do not have a name for this biological anomaly; neither do I.
Just like Wenger, the government issues the silliest press statements ever. The kind that makes you smash your 64 inch LCD Plasma TV into bits and pieces before you remember the multi-thousand naira price tag. The government in response to ills of society tells pressmen that they are doing their best to see that justice is done. Wenger tells pressmen he has a quality team capable of competing against the best. At all times, they have everything ‘under control’ and there is ‘no cause for alarm’. The government after a bomb blast will say, ‘this is an act committed by evil beasts’ as though we thought there were committed by angels! Their silly press statements come along with empty promises. The government promises vigorous and rigorous responses to our problems but in truth their vigorous and rigorous responses are nothing but bogus words. Wenger promises to buy world-class players but ends up with teenagers. The Nigerian government promises constant electricity but you end up with candles. Wenger, like the Nigerian government, is sitting on a pile of money but does absolutely nothing useful with it. In fairness to Wenger, he just does nothing with it (which is not useful anyway) while the Nigerian government…well, you know all about them and money.
Just like Wenger, the Nigerian government relies on the same age-old methods that seem to have overstayed their welcome; methods that are seemingly inapplicable in these times. While Arsene Wenger continues to try to win 4 trophies with Chamakh, Koscielny and a horde of unproven and inexperienced players, the Nigerian government is trying to use sweet-mouth to arrest the Boko Haram situation- ‘the perpetrators of this evil crime shall be brought to book’. How can you expect a different result when you do things the same way?
The public has given up on both parties and it’s not hard to figure out why. When you leave people, whom you are supposed to render happy and cheerful, brooding and full of despair, then you give them a valid reason to lose faith in you. Just like Wenger, the government has suffered a drought of success that has lasted longer than normal. Six years without any silverware and fifty mostly fruitless post independence years are replete with repetitive failures which are caused by an incomprehensible inability to get the basics in place and working. A good centre back is to Arsenal what electricity is to Nigeria. It’s the science of basics.
With all the requisite resources to fulfill their obligations to fans and citizens alike firmly in place, both parties should have no excuses for their failures and if they have any, we’ll like to hear them. Oh wait! It’ll just be another silly press statement. Never mind.
Follow Yomi Kazeem on Twitter @TheYomiKazeem