- A good man leaveth an inheritance to his children’s children: and the wealth of the sinner is laid up for the just. Proverbs 13:22
- ‘’No matter how good you think you are as a leader, my goodness, the people around you will have all kinds of ideas for how you can get better. ‘’So for me, the most fundamental thing about leadership is to have the humility to continue to get feedback and to try to get better – because your job is to try to help everybody else get better’’ — Jim Yong Kim, served was the 12th President of the World Bank.
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 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.
How did we get entangled in this situation? Those of us in the adolescent group circa 50 years ago know that you could win a girl’s heart by simply displaying a travelling passport on the table in your room. The West was then likened to paradise; so ladies preferred people who wanted to, or were abroad! Throw compatibility and other positive virtues to the dogs. People who travelled abroad never told correct stories of what they went through. Many never told those at home that they were engaged in menial jobs. They never volunteered the information that there was no free lunch.
WORKING ABROAD: Those who travelled abroad after the 70s never volunteered the information that the stress was much coping with jobs and studies and that you could grow old easily on account of working too hard. It is a society that extracts from you in equal measure, IF NOT MORE than what is paid as wages. Those societies have no place for class distinction and the rule of law applies in practically all situations. No VIP treatment in most cases.
EXPERT’S OPINION: The foregoing explains why our young ones move in a dare-devil manner to cross the Sahara Desert and the Mediterranean Sea to enter Europe. It is very regrettable that youths that are engaged in the illegal act of migration appear undeterred, considering the high risks to which they expose themselves. Thousands have paid the supreme price in attempts to seek greener pastures abroad. 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.
Arguing in line with the reasoning above, late Prof Alfred Opubor was emphatic on an urgent need for the reconfiguration of the world information and communication order. He asserted in one of his papers 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.’’
LEADING BY EXAMPLE & THE KURU DECLARATION: Parents, couples and other stakeholders engaged in the task of taking care of the young ones. They must review strategies; evaluate strategies properly. As for governments, their responsibilities are contained in the KURU DECLARATION that states that: ‘’NIGERIA is building a truly great African democratic country, politically united, integrated and stable, economically prosperous, socially organized, with equal opportunities for all, and responsibility from all, to become the catalyst of (African) Renaissance, and making adequate all-embracing contributions sub-regionally, regionally and globally”. Furthermore, government is working strenuously to “create a Nigeria that Nigerians will be proud to belong to and grateful to inhabit; a Nigeria that rewards hard work, protects its people and their property and offer its children better prospects than those they may be tempted to seek in Europe or the United-States. All citizens, regardless of gender, race, religion or politics, should feel that they have a stake in Nigeria’s future and that their loyalty and diligence will be rewarded.’’
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.’’
WE ARE ALL GUILTY: If the truth must be told, all segments of the society 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 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.
LET US BE FRANK – HOW MANY OF US IN THE ELITE & POLITICAL CLASSES ARE FANS OF FOREIGN 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.
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. I used to know 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 – Egbon 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 1961-1962, 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 Amesiamaka, 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 which 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. Ernest Okonkwo added colour to commentaries, describing hard and long kicks as ”bombastic intercontinental missile” 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, Stationery Stores Football Club of Lagos, Enyimba International of Aba, 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
- Amos Adegoke
- Israel Adebajo
- Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu
- MKO Abiola
- Jim Nwobodo
- Sunday Dankaro
- Isaac Akioye – a great sports administrator
REMINISCENCES: THE PROFESSIONALS: NIGERIA’S GLORIOUS YEARS ON THE 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:
Without any doubt, these patriotic Nigerians have by their performances written their names on the positive pages of History.
May the Good Lord bless Nigeria.