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ARSENAL FOOTBALL CLUB; ALIKO DANGOTE & OTHER AFFLUENT NIGERIANS – Why ‘Made & Managed in Nigeria’ football clubsides are more beneficial

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By all measurable standards, Alhaji Aliko Dangote is a successful Nigerian, a great patriot, philanthropist, and sympathizer of humanity. Dangote has worked really hard to amass his wealth, making him the 208th richest person in the world. He reserves the right to spend his wealth any way he wishes. In the past few years, he has invested in Nigeria and African countries as if his life depends on doing joust that. He is a relatively quiet giver, who seldom announces his hilanthropic activities.

For some years,  Aliko Dangote has been quoted as expressing his desire to purchase Arsenal Football Club. Tashan Deniran-Alleyne on 20th  April, 2021 asked in football.com a piece titled:  ‘’When Aliko Dangote can start £2billion Arsenal takeover talks as Stan Kroenke is told to sell. ‘’Billionaire Aliko Dangote has spoken on numerous occasions about his desire to buy out the Gunners’ American owner, Stan Kroenke, at the Emirates Stadium’’ Arsenal Football Club is believed to be worth £843 million/$1.3 billion, per Forbes’  (Mike Ozanian). Arsenal football club’s net-worth is believed to be in the region of £6.8bn. Aliko Dangote, the richest man in Africa is worth US$ 8.3 Billion.

Arsenal’s current owner Stan Kroenke has proved unpopular with many fans since taking over at the Emirates Stadium. The publication cited above reveals that: ‘’This is mainly down to a lack of investment in the first-team squad coupled with poor returns on the pitch in comparison to many of the Premier League rivals in recent years. However, there could be some light at the end of the tunnel as talks over a potential takeover at Arsenal could start up in the not too distant future. Nigerian billionaire Aliko Dangote launching a bid to takeover the Gunners appears to be edging ever closer amid The Africa Report stating his oil refinery is set to be operational in “early 2021”, meaning he can soon start talks with Kroenke in regards to taking control in north London.’’ The influence of Western media on the Third World is dangerously making our young people lose our virtues, values, and norms; only to be replaced by the cultural scenes that we view on incursive programmes shown on foreign media. The impact on youth in Africa by foreign media is evident in dress styles with implications of changes in behaviour, morals, and aspirations.  Even adults are getting caught in the web of civilization. The family is a microcosm of an organized setting. Family units are responsible for the advancements of all societies. But the whole of families too,  are increasingly getting enveloped by foreign culture.

THE LIKELY EFFECTS   Dangote may be excused on account of investing in order to rake in foreign exchange. The venture could bring in foreign exchange for Nigeria. Beyond this, the consequences and merit of purchasing a foreign clubside are debatable at this critical period. Quite naturally, flaunting wealth is part of the Nigerian society. It has become part of our culture and and is almost an obsession. In the long run, there is every possibility that a few rich Nigerians will follow suit and head for Europe to purchase football clubs. A few billionaires might decide to follow the Dangote example with the move eventually becoming a competition among Nigerians who love to exhibit wealth. His good friend Billionaire Femi Otedola might take a similar step to purchase a European clubside.  It is very regrettable that youths that are engaged in the illegal act of migration appear undeterred, not considering the high risks to which they expose themselves. Thousands have paid the supreme price in attempts to seek greener pastures abroad.

 BOOSTING THE ECONOMY THROUGH THE POLICY ON NIGERIA MADE PRODUCTS Alhaji Dangote, kindly consider this admonition as a piece that conforms to the Family Values programme being implemented by our organization. By the grace of God, you are one of the most successful entrepreneurs produced by Nigeria, and as a great philanthropist who has also been able to build friendships and bridges across the nation, thereby impacting our collective goals of sustaining peaceful and harmonious co-existence. Your disposition as a great humanist, contributions to the eradication of poverty, and general conducts have enabled you to record your name on the positive pages of history. Let us believe that those boys in our soccer clubs are MADE IN NIGERIA. One of the commendable steps taken by the Muhammadu Buhari Administration is about boosting Nigeria’s economy through policies made in furtherance of the execution of the Presidential Executive Order dealing with utilization of local products and services with the inclusion of Nigerians in the productivity cycle and to enable them get preferential opportunities for jobs that would be created in the country.  At different times, TERRIFIC HEADLINES, a proponent of the MADE IN NIGERIA approach to further develop the economy has written on a number of issues adopted, particularly the worthy contributions of our very great people in the Diaspora

THE RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL  Nigerians, at this critical period in history, enjoy the opportunity of THE RIGHT OF FIRST REFUSAL .. Nigerians first, before foreigners. Mr. President has directed all Nigerian security agencies and hospitals to patronise locally textile companies for their uniforms, and has directed the Central Bank of Nigeria and the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPR) to ensure ministries, agencies and departments comply with the directive. Additionally, Buhari has reportedly directed other uniform services and hospitals to patronise the Nigerian Cotton, Textile and Garment (CTG) industries to grow the economy.

I salute Aliko Dangote for his patriotism and selflessness. Visit the Africa Centre in Harlem New York city and see what I am talking about. It is evident that home-grown solutions have to be adopted in evolving practical solutions that can address the innumerable issues plaguing Africa today.   That assertion was made by Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari in far away Congo at the commissioning of the US$300 million Aliko Dangote’s Congo cement plant. Two issues raced through my mind as I viewed the news of the telecast of the event.

The first is Nigeria’s potential, market, and huge human and material resources, as well as the legacies of resilience, irrepressible commitment to the pursuit of chosen goals by the ordinary Nigerian, and our ability to navigate difficult terrains of life.  It is also possible, to make Nigeria the hub of business activities in Africa through the principle of visioning and long-term planning  It wasn’t really the fact that the new plant that cost US$300m with a capacity to create about 1,000 jobs that fascinated me. What thrilled me was the fact that Nigerians appear to be a special breed of strong-minded adventurous people, who in the near future could conquer the world, if we all – Nigerians – conduct our affairs properly.

HELPING OUR YOUNG ONES Unfortunately, the pastures are no longer green. It has become very imperative to bring them up to have confidence in the system and the nation. Again, that is beyond government alone. In line with the reasoning above, late Prof Alfred Opubor in one of his papers was emphatic on an urgent need for the reconfiguration of the World Information and Communication Order. He asserted that: ’This trans-national information monopoly in developing countries manipulate hundreds of millions of people in Africa, in Asia, in Latin America, and in the Caribbean.’’ Prof. Opubor, cited above, argued that: “Africa has been the victim of other peoples’ information domination. ‘’Historically, Africa’s image in the world has been largely managed by non-African interests and institutions. ‘’Those who had the means to create powerful channels to disseminate information widely, had pre-empted the definition of what was good, what was right, what was important, and what was civilized. In general, even the achievements in science, in art and culture that were African in origin or inspiration, were often attributed to others, because their provenance was obscured in Africa’s inability to proclaim its stake. ‘’Through literature, visual arts, the mass media, and popular culture, the agenda of world discourse has been hijacked by other cultures and peoples for a long time.’’

POSSIBLE ALTERNATIVES — OPTIONS FOR THE CONSIDERATION OF THE WEALTHY One could ask a very pertinent question: what is the state of our local football clubs and what is the level of interest the rich and poor have in supporting and nurturing these local sides? The fact remains that our soccer clubs are practically dead. Parents, couples and other stakeholders engaged in the task of taking care of the young ones must wake up. They must review strategies; and evaluate strategies properly. The Federal Ministry of Industry, Trade & Investment has achieved much in its drive for utilization of Nigeria-Made products and bringing the buyer and seller together. In fact, purchasers are now able to purchase made in Nigeria products on line at local online stores. The Executive Order 003 signed by President Muhammadu Buhari has increased the level of patronage of Made in Nigeria goods by public procurement agencies, and is an affirmation of the commitment of government to building local productive capacity. The Ministry is moving very swiftly to create the awareness desired to get local users like those engaged in the hospitality industry, airlines, tour operators, and even government offices to utilize locally produced fabrics like adire (tie & dye) as curtains in offices. It would do no harm for private homes to also use curtains made in Nigeria. Could we also classify Nigerian footballers Nigeria Made products and grant concessions to those who could own and sponsor clubsides?

CAMPAIGN FOR NIGERIA MADE PRODUCTS  There is evidently a brighter tomorrow if Nigerians could embrace the policy of the federal government in the area of promoting local products and services and non-oil exports.  Government is creating awareness and at the same time requesting investors and consumers to show serious commitment to participating in the nation’s economic development for the full exploitation of the potentials of the various sub-sectors of the national economy. Massive support is required for the Nigeria Made Products policy of the Federal Government that is beneficial to all Nigerians. This policy is directed at the following:

  • Boost the economy
  • Correct imbalance in the economy
  • Source of encouragement for producers and consumers of locally made items. In this connection, Government is bringing together and linking producers and consumers, even through on line media platforms
  • Encourage State and local governments to join the campaign

POSITIVE EFFECTS OF THE CAMPAIGN

  • The standard of living will improve drastically
  • Reduce dependence on oil revenue for survival.
  • Encourage production of cash crops that yield huge foreign exchange as palm oil, cashew, cocoa, soya beans, rubber, rice, petrochemical, leather, ginger, cotton, and Shea butter.
  • Bring buyers and sellers together
  • Increased awareness
  • Creation of jobs and employment opportunities

Joaquim Alberto Chissano, former President of Mozambique once asserted that sub-Saharan Africa is now poised at the cusp of an economic renaissance. However, its benefits will only be realized when our children start benefiting from better health care and education, better nutrition and social services. In this way, the renaissance will deepen and widen equitable resource distribution and our societies will flourish, leading to ever greater contributions from Africa to human culture, science and art. Yet, we know that as a continent we stand at the rear of the field in this great race towards 2015, with farther and faster to go than other countries. The grim example of child deaths suffices to illustrate just how great the distance is. Half of the 9.7 million children who died before their fifth birthday in 2006 were from sub-Saharan Africa. As a great patriot, Aliko Dangote could float and sponsor two club sides in Nigeria for the sake of our nation and its economy.

WE ARE ALL GUILTY: Truth told, all segments of the society must share the blame for these ugly developments. Those born after the oil boom came into a society that commenced witnessing gradual erosion of the rich values and virtues handed down by our progenitors. Radical and wild lifestyles emerged with affluence and socials accorded undue prominence. Young ones learn fast and copy their parents and what others in their environments do. In the past few decades, those whose responsibility it is to ensure that the young ones grow up properly with sound morals have shirked their responsibilities. Is it impossible to have the following as club sides sponsored by rich Nigerians?

  • Aliko Dangote Team of Kano
  • Asiwaju Bola Tinubu Babes of Lagos
  • Olabode George Boys of Lagos
  • Deji Adeleke Thunders of Ede
  • Femi Otedola Boys of Epe
  • Tony Elumelu Strikers of Delta State
  • Oba Otudeko Babes of Ijebu
  • Mike Adenuga Boys of Ogun State
  • Arthur Eze Bombers
  • Folorunsho Alakija Babes of Ikorodu
  • Jimoh Ibrahim Boys of Akokoland
  • Abdulsamad Rabiu Strikers
  • Ayo Omidiran Babes of Osogbo
  • Bola Shagaya Babes of Ilorin
  • Mohammed Indimi Strikers
  • Rauf Aregbesola Strikers of Ilesha
  • Olagunsoye Oyinlola Babes of Odo-Otin
  • Khamis Olatunde Badmuus Strikers of Osogbo
  • The Ooni of Ife vs Sultan of Sokoto Football Teams
  • Christian Association of N igeria vs Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs
  • Then let the  Nigerian Ports Authority, Central Bank of Nigeria, Aso Villa Rockers etc come on the pitches. It is about the future of our children and could promote the much-desired unity.

 LET US BE FRANK – HOW MANY ELITES ARE FANS OF NIGERIAN CLUBSIDES? Like late Prime Minister Abubakar Tafawa Balewa stated at the inauguration of the Organization of African Unity 1963, let us be frank.  Let’s ask how many of us – governors, senators, ministers, and top private sector chieftains are fans of foreign football club sides, particularly European soccer? We have a lot to do to change the orientation of the ordinary Nigerians who even murder themselves in sympathy with people who are utilizing soccer to develop their economies.  Let us be frank. One side must suffer (Nigeria/Abroad) because there is no way we would be emotionally attached to foreign clubs and develop our own clubs. It might require Presidential and Governorship Proclamations that, however, might not be binding on the private sector and the two other arms of government. But the government knows how to handle and challenge the private sector. Before embarking on a mission, let us consider its value in terms of developing the Nigerian society. The information below would certainly interest our young ones who might not have heard about the patriotic acts of some early soccer maestros.

FOOTBALL, SOCCER LEGENDS & THEIR SUCCESSORS: Nigerian football team, the first to ever leave West-Africa played the UK teams on that goodwill tour in 1949 barefooted. The team spent one month during which they won two, drew two and lost five matches during their month-long tour. Those who embarked on that memorable visit were: Goalkeepers: Sam Ibiam (Port Harcourt), Isaac Akioye (who later became Director of Sports) (Hercules, Ibadan); Defenders: Justin Onwudiwe (Lagos Railway), Olisa Chukwura (Abeokuta), ATB Ottun (Lagos Marines), Isiaku Shittu (Lagos UAC), John Dankaro (Jos), Hope Lawson (Lagos Marine), Dan Anyiam (Lagos UAC), Okoronkwo Kanu (Land & Survey); Forwards: Mesembe Otu (Lagos Marine), Peter Anieke (Lagos Railway), Sokari Dokubo (Lagos Railway), Godwin Anosike (Lagos Railway), Tesilimi Balogun (Lagos Railway), Titus Okere (Lagos Railway), Etim Henshaw (Lagos Marine) and Edet Ben (Lagos Marine) The team was captained by Etim Henshaw. Prominent names soon appeared: Albert Onyeanwuna, Onyeador, Elkanah Onyeali, Dejo Fayemi, Godwin Achebe, Fabian Duru, Augustine Oduah and others appeared on the pitches. Prominent teams that produced many of the members of the national team included the Ports Authority, ECN (Electricity Corporation of Nigeria) Red Devils of Port Harcourt and Western Nigeria Development Corporation (WNDC)

CATCHING THEM YOUNG: Many stars emerged from secondary schools.  World-class Table Tennis players like Babatunde Obisanya and Gregory Adebiyi (Rushy Palamba) who later became a Brig-Gen. & Director, Nigerian Army Sports, and short and long-distance runners – Kay Yusuf; soccer produced Felix Adedeji (a replica of Teslim Balogun) and Femi Green. The Thermogene Cup, Principals’ Cup, The Academicals, and the AIONIAN GAMES produced several stars who made the national level. The show wasn’t the exclusive preserve of the cities. In Ipetu-Ijesha, late Senator Mojisoluwa Akinfenwa, as gamesmaster produced socialite Bobo Oladipo Doherty as the goalkeeper 1959-1962, while Solomon Folorunsho Ezobi and Agunbiade (Agunbey – who retired from the civil service of Osun State) were valuable left-wingers who terrorized opponents from the left flank. From the tertiary institutions were discovered several great Nigerian footballers – Segun Odegbami, Adokiye Amaesiamaka, and others.

BOXING: Boxing those good old days produced Richard Ihetu – aka Dick Tiger;  Hoggan ”Kid”  Bassey, Female athletes make their marks – The Violet Odogwus, Modupe Oshikoyas, Mary Onyali-Omagbemis, Chioma Ajunwas, and Glory Alozie. Those who appeared when the weather became very bright include Nwankwo Kanu, Jay-Jay Okocha, Rashidi Yekini, Uche Okechukwu, Finidi George, Taribo West, Stephen Keshi, and Sunday Oliseh. Already, we appear to be missing in action, even in athletics and other sports in which Nigeria used to excel at the sub-regional, regional and global levels. Patriotism is doing what will add value to your society. Is there any hope? Yes, there is. — The situation is redeemable; though it might take some time. –  Sports is politics. Ask Brazil and Argentina. It is like war. In some publications authored by Segun Odegbami as published in Thisday Newspaper, it was revealed that preparations for soccer competitions were thorough, and this was a key factor that aided the Green Eagles in boosting Nigeria’s image through conquests of other nations by Nigeria’s national side.

SPORTS ADMINISTRATION: They were exposed to training or warm-up encounters in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. The Green Eagles also went far in global competitions. Additionally, sports administration requires support. Nigeria had the likes of Lekan Salami, MKO Abiola who was Pillar of Sports in Africa, Jim Nwobodo, Israel Adebajo of the Stationery Stores, Sunday Dankaro, Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu,  and Amos Adegoke, who with their sweats promoted the IICC Shooting Stars, the Rangers International FC of Enugu and others. These days, European clubs are the toasts of millions of people, including those in top positions in the public and private sectors; in what I have described as second colonization.

Segun Odegbami, the highest goal scorer in the 1978 & 1980 African Nations Cup Competition wrote in Thisday newspapers that developments that started to rock that solid foundation and it all started with the unceremonious removal of Mr. Isaac Akioye as the director of sports at the National Sports Commission (NSC). He was the one with the training skills in sports that established the solid foundation, and around him, he trained and hired people who were to sustain the development. He continues: So, when he was removed in 1981,  it created a crisis situation and those who took over from him, though tried to sustain what was on ground, but the turnover of personnel in the administration of sports; especially football in Nigeria became accelerated and it became more watery and by the time we got to the early 1990s, it was so watered down, though the effect of that solid foundation was still strong to sustain sports development by the 90s it became less in terms of human capacity. Though we were still winning laurels but the fact remains that the administrators that came in thereafter did not have the original vision of the initial founders. And by the time we got to the late 1990 the new administrators that succeeded came in with their own shallow vision and so the quality of the game started to drop, so much so that we no longer could recognize the original foundation. There is no longer any connection between the original foundation and where we are now. We are just drifting; there is no clear vision and direction again.

THE FOOTBALL COMMENTATORS Gone are the days of brilliant soccer commentators, on radio and television, with well-researched accounts that made people create interest in soccer. Those were the days of Isola Folorunsho, Sebastine Effurum, Kevin Ejiofor, bombastic Ernest Okonkwo, Tolu Fatoyinbo, Fabio Lanipekun and Yinka Craig, who were moving encyclopedia of soccer tournaments and would during commentaries recall how, when and where similar situations on the pitches were recorded in the past. We used to have young Nigerians in schools soccer contests mount tables to run commentaries. Now, they appear in club houses to view telecasts of foreign soccer teams and at times resort to violence because their favourite clubsites. Ernest Okonkwo added colour to commentaries, describing hard and long kicks as ”bombastic intercontinental missiles” He created appellations, based on the strengths of players: ”Mathematical” Segun Odegbami, (because of his calculated mesmerizing moves) ”Chairman” Christian Chukwu (Captain), ”Block-Buster’ Aloysius Atuegbu, (because he was stocky) ”Lanky” Emmanuel Okala; ”Midfield Maestro” Mudashiru Babatunde Lawal; and Chief Justice Adokiye Amaesimeka, then a law student who operated from the left flank, combining skillfully with Segun Odegbami to torment their opponents.

There were also:  ‘’Slow Poison’’ Idowu Otubusin, ”Caterpillar” Kelechi Emetole and ”Quicksilver Sylvanus Okpala”. I listened to a Ghanaian commentator warn, during a Nigeria-Ghana encounter that: look out for Segun Odegbami, he could score goals from an impossible angle. A few minutes later, Segun Odegbami nodded the ball to put it past the Ghanaian goalkeeper – Inside the net! I remember Fabio Lanipekun coined the phrase: The Miracle of Daman (Saudi 89) when Nigeria’s Flying Eagles came from 4-0 down to win a football encounter against the Soviet Union. Even Baba E.A. Adeboye, busy as he was,  also watched that soccer encounter. Ask a 40-year old man or woman today if they know any of those great personalities. The answer would certainly be NO.  But they know of Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea, Leceister etc

Where are the following: Shooting Stars Sports Club of Ibadan; Enugu Rangers International Football Club of Enugu, Electricity Corporation of Nigeria (ECN) Stationery Stores Football Club of Lagos, Enyimba International of Aba, Adebajo Babes, Nigerian Ports Authority of Lagos, Nigeria Police,  Railway XI Football Club of  Lagos, Iwuanyawu Nationale Football Club of Owerri,  Kano Pillars Football Club of Kano, Bendel Insurance Football Club of Benin, Mighty Jets Football Club of Jos, and Marine Athletic Football Club of  Lagos

Where are the likes of the following:

  • Lekan Salami
  • Sunday Dankaro
  • Amos Adegoke
  • Israel Adebajo
  • Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu
  • MKO Abiola
  • Jim Nwobodo
  • Adeseun Ogundoyin
  • Isaac Akioye – a great sports administrator
  • First published January 2020

 REMINISCENCES: THE PROFESSIONALS: NIGERIA’S GLORIOUS YEARS ON FOOTBALL PITCHES  — THE 1980 AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS FINALS

Ghana, Cameroon, and Nigeria have put up inspiring performances in the African Nations Cup Tournament. The soccer contest that holds bi-annually, is organized by the Confederation of African Football. Nigeria has won the African Cup of Nations soccer competition a number of times. The final of the 12th edition of the competition marked Nigeria’s moment of glory at the tournament determined in Lagos, Nigeria; in 1980, at the height of Nigeria’s Green Eagles’ popularity on a global scale. Coach Otto Gloria,  a Brazilian took Nigeria to the finals of the African Cup of Nations competition in a dazzling performance that saw the Green Eagles defeat Algeria by 3 goals to nil at the National Stadium, Lagos.

That soccer event attracted 60,000 spectators. The picture of the event is still very fresh in memory, as television viewers could view President Usman Aliyu Shehu Shagari jumping up in the VIP box with his tall trademark cap, to celebrate the artistry of the Green Eagles (now Super Eagles) and goals scored by Nigeria. It was one of the most glorious events ever recorded by the Green Eagles. Nigeria’s economy was good at that period. The 1980 impressive performance earned the Green Eagles houses at FESTAC Village in Lagos, and a 504 Peugeot saloon car each; in what was recorded in soccer history, as the first time Nigerian footballers were generously compensated for their efforts.

CONTRIBUTORY FACTORS TO SUCCESS STORIES: Odegbami wrote that: There was nothing like zoning, quota, or federal character, in selecting those great footballers. Merit was the sole factor by Brazilian coach, Otto Gloria, in football encounters that promoted the unity of Nigeria. The National team was made up mostly of players from Enugu Rangers and IICC Shooting Stars, Ibadan, both with a total of nine‐regular players. The 1980 winning team of the Green Eagles defeated the Desert Warriors of Algeria 3-0 in the final, played inside the main bowl of the National Stadium Lagos.

  • The Golden Team comprised the following:
  • Best Ogedegbe – Goalkeeper
  • David Adiele – Defence
  • Christian Chukwu (Captain) Midfield Defence
  • Tunde Bamidele – Defender
  • Alloysius Atuegbu – Attacker
  • Godwin Odiye – Defence
  • Felix Owolabi – Midfield
  • Okey Isima – Defender
  • Segun Odegbami – Attacker
  • Mudashiru Babatunde Lawal – Midfielder
  • Adokiye Amiesimaka – Attacker

Reserve Bench

  • Kadiri Ikhana
  • Moses Effiong
  • Emmanuel Okala
  • Sylvanus Okpala
  • Ifeanyi Onyedika
  • Martin Eyo
  • John Orlando
  • Shefiu Mohammed
  • Charles Bassey
  • Henry Nwosu
  • Franck Onwuachi

Without any doubt, these patriotic Nigerians have by their performances written their names on the positive pages of History. We can do it again.

May the Good Lord bless Nigeria.

 

 PIX CREDIT –FOOTBALL.LONDON

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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