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WORLD CUP COMPETITION, INTELLIGENCE, STATE RE-ORGANISATION.

By: Professor Dr. Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai Published July 2nd, 2010

The rapid response from FIFA to the policy recommendation by the Federal Ministry of Sports, Nigeria that the Nation’s football team, the Super Eagles be banned has exposed the policy decision to develop controversial wings.

Controversy often opens the floodgate to spikes and arrows. With time, it all boils down to disputations of unsavoury nature, which weakens presidential authority.

The faux pas clearly shows that our Sports Minister did not, and has not acquainted himself with the Statute governing FIFA’s intolerance of State-member’s political interference in World Cup competitions since 1950.

It is shocking to think that the task force misadvised the President. The advice was not well thought through. The caffeinated statement to the effect that “Nigeria withdraws from international competition for two years to enable the country put its house in order” is convicted of error. This raises questions of sound judgment, logical reasoning and knowledge of FIFA rules. It also raises doubt about 2011 and beyond, even after good elections.

In other states, the principle of Ministerial responsibility would require that the Minister of Sports should resign his office. He and not the players should take responsibility for the dismal performance of the national team. This is why he is minister!

For a nation that will preside over the affairs of the Security Council of the United Nations in July 2010, this whole discussion is not very good.

Our President may be invited to participate in more complex international legal problems emanating for the application of the Charter of the United Nations Organization and a myriad of International Treaties and International Conventions as President Barrack Obama had to grapple with, when the United States of America occupied that seat.

The International Community has their representatives here and are meticulously following our actions and governance style.

This is a State that remained without a President for over ninety days, allowing its affairs to be dribbled by a bunch of unintelligent but greedy officials and their mentors.

This is a state that is yet to shed ceremonials, state visits and gaieties and social festivities to present a blue print for post 2011 governance. This is a state in which birthday achievers have taken over newspaper pages to extol non-existent virtues; this is a state that plans to spend colossal money to celebrate failures in governance since after independence.

In 1949, the Chinese got their independence. In 1960, Nigeria became independent. While we have been beating about the bush, the Chinese now manufacture from pin to aeroplanes and are now able to lend the United States of America billions of dollars. Chinese feed over one billion three hundred citizens with a lot of left-overs in restaurants.

In Nigeria, how many of our citizens can afford to regularly eat in restaurants? Look at the texture of the skin of South Africans and that of Nigerians. We cannot all be in government to be financially buoyant.

I applaud Professor Tam David West, Chinua Achebe and other self-respecting Nigerian citizens, who regularly reject cheap national” honours”, rejecting the thing and going on with their lives.

This is a country, where lazy folks, with poor academic backgrounds are shamelessly awarded Doctors of Every Discipline Honorius causa degrees at every convocation by the mushroom universities, now being run as business enterprises.

In spite of the regulatory efforts of the National Universities Commission, THE NIGERIAN BIG MAN MENTALITY is a formidable factor to reckon with.

Some Doctor hc recipients, fraudulently remove the hc, not knowing that the EFCC of ICPC may jail them for seven years for impersonation. The movement will soon be put in motion. Dull-heads also want to answer DOCTOR. This is Nigeria.

In any football competition, one side must win. Simple commonsense should recognize that all cannot win. Football is a game, played with intelligence, great energy and at times luck plays itself out.

A great team can lose as a result of mistakes, inadvertences and inaccuracies, which are bound to occur, even after two years of suspension.

Winning a football match could be a matter of luck. The first goal in the 2010 FIFA World Cup by the South African outside left was assisted by the ball bouncing favourably for an instep howler.

I do not know whether our Sports Minister was ever a footballer. Well, I was the captain of Christ the King School at Aba, 1954-55 and captain of the Holy Family College team in 1959.In 1961-1962, I was in the Port-harcourt Ports Authority team, with Mr. H.A.P Nwanna as coach. In our team were the master dribbler Onyeanwuna, Onyeador and others, who later played for Nigeria in the 1960’s and 70’s. In 1969, as a doctoral candidate at the University of Cologne, West Germany, Mr. Akin Fatoyinbo and myself organized an African team that defeated a Cologne team by 3-o.

Some of our African team-mates were thereafter absorbed by Hertha Berlin, Fortuna Dusseldorf, Hamburg and other European teams.

Later, it became fashionable to employ African players in many European Clubs. As can seen from the above facts, I am in a position to lecture the Minister of Sport on football, its uncertainties, probalities and possibilities.

The Minister failed to ensure that a competent coach was in place early enough. He failed to facilitate the use of our world class national stadium, built with billions of Naira, thereby wasting the nation’s funds. He should have asked all the Sports Clubs to hold football matches and from the experience, select promising young footballers to contest for selection into the National team

The Minister failed to adequately respond to complaints by the players, patriotic officials and administrators. The audit of funds will be very revealing! As an elementary show of concern, the Minister should have shown concern for the players. Some were kept in unbefitting hotels in Abuja. The Minister should have sent the foreign coach to go round the country in search for talents. This, the coach could not do in two months!

Yet, he was expected to perform magic! There were no regular briefings on the Super Eagles preparedness. There was a belated promise to make money available to them. Such promises were never kept in the past and the players know this.

Some issues have militated against the morale of the national team. They have been saddled with foreign coaches, who did not understand Nigerians’ mentality, ethos and frame of mind.

The “presidential hand-shake only” Obasanjo style, could not buy return tickets for the players to get back to their European bases, nor put food in the mouth of their wards, parents and the extended families.

It was reported that the then Minister of Sports, Mr. Jim Nwobodo had refused to use the same plane that was to bring back the Super Eagles after an overseas football match. Mr. Daniel Omokachie told Nwobodo off.

Can anyone understand this Republic, where nobodies, who became some bodies through, at times, chance happenings, favouritism, as-man-know- man, turn themselves into people, who now pontificate inanities of inconsequential and damaging import?

No matter how high the office people occupy, if they are misfits their ignorance or arrogance will bring them out. It has always been said that when a small man is given a big job, he will bend the job to suit his ability. Unfortunately, there are certain jobs that should not be left to untutored ability.

Those, who hurt their nations, are not those, who comment objectively about their wrong policies. It is those, who knowing that some policies are wrong, use polemics to cover illogicalities, which are hard to reconcile.

Other nations often use those in power, as a yard stick to gauge the national intelligence.

A nation which regularly applies for aid from international institutions and receives financial support for projects, is not on solid grounds to announce to the world that it proposes to spend ten billion Naira on celebrations.

A mathematician friend of mine told me that with that kind of money, the killing-roads, could be fixed, many schools and colleges, would have been put in place.

Experience shows that such expenses are never accounted for, are often the victims of contract-fixing, fire brigade purchases, concealed deals etc. The announcement points to the fact that we have learnt nothing and forgotten nothing.

In his dismal interview with the CNN, our Sports minister claimed falsely that “all Nigerians want the suspension of the Super Eagles” There was neither a referendum nor an opinion poll assessment. So, where did the minister get his mandate from? I am a Nigerian. I was never consulted nor asked. I do not support the suspension idea. It is retrogressive, ill-conceived and cannot improve the standards of football in Nigeria even, after two years. In fact, things will become worse, because the minister is not sure he will be minister after the 2011 elections.

So, it is a speculative proposal, based on emotions of frustration and understandable despondency.

Let us appoint a Nigerian coach, open our stadia for us to choose football talents, look after the Nigerian players, who play abroad and not summon them to return a few weeks to important matches.

This Republic deserves more and ought to be more worthy of excellence. Our Republic needs re-organisation. Systems of governance should be put in place, which would regulate the political parties to serve as constructive opposition, preparatory to forming the government by winning credible elections and presenting a workable agenda for proper statecraft.

Our political, economic and legal establishments and institutions must function under strict and regular monitoring.

The Chinese have done very well. We visited Shanghai and saw wonders, even Angola, which suffered terrible interference from foreign powers after minerals, has, under Dos Santos used its oil wealth well.

I applaud the current drive towards accountability and the cooperation between Interpol and Transparency International, which now look into money transfers that cannot be justified.

We shall be grateful, if after the investigations about 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP preparations, the nation will be fully briefed.

We must exorcise the resident demons confusing Nigerians and their leaders. JEHOVAH ADONAI will continue to overturn, overturn and overturn.

Professor Dr. Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai is the President of the proposed AFEMAI UNIVERSITY, FUGAR, Edo State, Nigeria.

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