COUNTING THE COST: Super Eagles’ Restoration of a Nation’s Pride and Lessons to be Learnt by Odusote Oluwakayode
As much as I do not have the crest of silver or gold to dole out gifts for the super eagles of Nigerialike the president and some eminent Nigerians did, the ink of my pen will be golden to eulogize their patriotic zeal of accomplishment.
It was an ecstaticexperience being part of those that stood by the road side to welcome the heroes. It was not a political rally; none of the happy people I saw got money from godfathers to fake a welcome.
Nigerians going home from work parked their vehicles and alighted to salute the heroes. They were not tired. Ties were loosed and ladies with high heel shoes changed to slippers just to be part of the heroic celebration. I saw blinks of flashes from mobile phones and cameras. I saw happiness on faces of people around me as they gladly spokein the one language we are united with. – ThePidgin English.
When the heroes passed by, I saw the reverence of pride and heard the shout of “Obi tererente-Obi!” renting the air. Mikel Obi himself sat close to the window with head bowed. Joseph Yobo held the cup for Nigerians to see from the front of the Marcopolo bus that conveyed themwhile some of the players waved in acknowledgement of the heroic welcome. I didn’t just see these heroes, I saw pride of the green white green, I saw players that remained humble in victory and I saw playersthat brought smiles to the faces of Nigerians.
There are so many lessons to be learnt from this victory. Beyond the celebrations, beyond sports and beyond encomiums, the super eagles restored the pride of Nigeria.
This is not the time to talk about Nigeria’s problems or about our leader’s failings. We know the challenges we face as a nation. These players played their part to restore part of the glory lost.
The world media for the first time in long years did broadcast something positive about Nigeria.
Each time we gather to celebrate collective victories like this, we remember the enduring strength within the zeal of patriotism. Football helps Nigerians affirm the promise of our unity. It helps us remember that what binds this nation together is not the tongue, tribe, religion, culture or political affiliations we separately share. What keeps us together is the understanding of our diversity and the acceptance to live and stay together as a nation – unity.
Today we celebrate the achievement of these committed Nigerians because they decided to be part of a positive change. The president has no moral justification to ascribe their victory to his government’s promise of fresh air. It has nothing to do with his political promises.
Don’t let us forget that the super eagles started poorly,infact their performance at the group stage became a burden to the expectant fans. It was indeed a slow start against Burkina Faso on January 21. They played the best football against Cote d’Ivoire in the quarter finals and in the 4-1 demolition of Mali in the semi-finals.
The Eagles have now won the cup in the West Africa – Nigeria in 1980; North Africa – Tunisia in 1994; and now in southern Africa – what a victory.
Our politicians, the government and the governed have lots to learn from the AFCON 2013 victory of the Super Eagles.
United with courage, the Eagles determined that though they had been written off, they would be optimistic to win – Nigeria as a nation has been written off as a failed state but we can change the world’snegative perceptions by doing the right things as demanded by doing what is required.
United with courage, the eagles discovered that they could only win when they take advantage of the quality playersthey parade – Nigeria’s political landscape should be based on quality of the leaders and genuine programmes of a party. Our politics should be free from sentiment of tribalism and ethnicity beliefs.
As a united nation, our leaders must resolve that for a nation to be great, they must eschew personal political goals and focus on collective will to care for the vulnerable, and protect its people from life’s worst epidemic – poverty.
All our society’s ills can’t be cured through government alone. Our today’s celebration of the eagles’ commitment, sacrifice, doggedness, patriotic zeal and hard work should be emulated with our personal responsibilities in various capacities towards contributing our quota to national development.
We have to understand that times have changed, so should our national life. The team was mostly made up of players from the south -eastern part of the country, yet no one queried Stephen Keshi on the selection process, no one alleged marginalization or segregation of a particular tribe. He was transparent in selecting the qualities available. We saw them as Nigerians and we accepted the list as announced. These are the principles our political, economic and social life requires for progress and development.
As Nigerians we can no more meet the demands of today’s world by acting differently and negatively to each other. We can’tcontinue to place our leadership choice and governance on the killing system of ‘zoning formula and quota system.
We must adopt a system of electing quality leaders from group of contenders without the myopic sentiment of the contestant being from the South West, North West, South East, North East, South South or North Central.
We must base our recognition of leaders on desired quality with a renewed Nigerian spirit. No single tribe or religion can lead Nigeria without the other, therefore, we must admit that Nigeria belongs to us, we must think like the super eagles and deliver on the promises of good education to equip our children for the future, of building the road networks across the nation and establishment of manufacturing companies that will bring new jobsand businesses. Just like the super eagles worked together to achieve victory, we must do these things together, as one nation, and one people to prosper.
We as Nigerians have been tormented by crises that continue to threaten our unity. The more we stumble into these crises, the brighter it dawn on us that we do not suffer differently but collectively.
We suffer the harshness of a bad economy together. The south does not suffer less what the north suffers from the scourge of Boko Haram bombing and the north shares the same negative perception against our nation from the dangerous grip of kidnapping.
Nigeria’s opportunities are numerous if we understand and take advantage of them. We possess all the qualities of human and natural resources to rule Africa and be part of the major players in the world. Our leaders should reckon with the youth that have the drive and a diversity that have the hope.
A collective effort will make our country succeed; we can breakthrough barriers when every person irrespective of the diversity can find independence in a nation governed my fellow citizen. Nigerians will be happy when the salaries earned justify the honest labor to liberate families from the brink of hardship and when sincere efforts in entrepreneurship are rewarded by government support.
We shall be victorious only when we reasonably believe that every Nigerian has equal right.
Stephen Keshi was cautious in making promises, he was careful to boast even when he got to the finals. He guided the team with care and courage and was mindful of the consequences of his failure. Therewere distractions from power blocs but the coach was focused. How I hope our political leaders in government will learn from this erudite son of Nigeria.
Our politicians should be bold to tell us the truth about our government. A political leader aspiring to lead should not promise what he is not sure of fulfilling. We do not want a fresh air of hardship, we do not want deceptions of free education and health services, we do not want deceptions of political merger that is possibly based on personal interest of ego, and we do not want the sentiment of “our turn – our time”.
All we want is a sincere, true and courageous leader that will remind us of our past failures and proffer how to put an end to further occurrence, a bold leader that will remind us of the beauties and advantages of our unity, the faith in a revival and courage that though it will be tough but with determination, we shall overcome our challenges. Happiness should not be reserved for the lucky rich or for the few privileged individual in government. .
The super Eagles believed that their obligation as Nigerians was to make the nation proud. They did not play for individual glories.
The path of sacrifice, the faith, the courage, the resilience, the caution, the hope, the fears of failure, the determination and patriotic zeal won them the cup for the third time to restore the lost pride of our nation.
Our political gladiators and fellow Nigerians must understand that no great objective can be attained by lone individual, region, party or religion. Several people have to strive together if even the simplest things are to be achieved.
Whenever people work together, it is inevitable that various disagreements and grievances should arise. Sometimes a region will receive a smaller share of the revenue accrued from crude oil, while another receives a larger portion. Sometime a region attain to high political positions while others have to be satisfied with lower ranks. At times, it is something which has been said which offends another region; at others it is some ill-considered action which seems to hurt another region’s interests.
Whatever the bone of contention may be, there are bound to be repeated occasions which lead to resentment. There will always be times when a group of people feels anger, jealousy, vindictiveness and animosity towards another group.
There is only one practical solution in such situations. That is, every individual Nigerian, region, culture, tribe and religionhas to turn themselves into self-correcting machine. We must defuse within ourselves the antipathy which we feel towards each other. The grudges which we harbor have to be forgotten. Only then would we as a nation be able to work and struggle on together for a better country.
Understanding the importance of collective effort with a united purpose just like the Super Eagles of Nigeria did will help Nigeria grow peacefully and progressively.
To these faithful heroes, I salute and to our political leaders, I plead, learn from the Super Eagles.
I am @Actionkay on twitter
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