The Economics Of Rewarding The Golden Eaglets By Umar Hassan
While I watched the victorious Golden Eaglets clinch the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile, a part of me just couldn’t wave the thought that it was coming at the worst possible time-Would the government be able to dole out rewards befitting their record-breaking exploits or cite ‘harsh times’?.
On the day they will be celebrated and handed their gifts, it is going to go one of either ways; a session where they get overdosed on accolades and handed a hefty bounty or one where they are told it would be insulting to attempt to reward such a phenomenal feat monetarily and handed ‘transport fares’.
Reports have been surfacing over the last week quoting an unnamed official of the sports ministry as saying that the Presidency has rejected a proposal to reward each of the young lads with the sum of N750,000 and that a fresh one recommending N150,000 has been submitted. With due regard to the present economic state, i still deem the first proposal ridiculous and the second unthinkable.
The country is facing without a doubt, the hardest time in its history. We are struggling to shed our old ostentatious lifestyle for a more prudent one and when I say the victory came at the wrong time for the golden eaglets, I also take into perspective the man at the very top. President Buhari has always been known to be frugal in nature and wouldn’t necessarily climb mountains to reward sports heroes.In retrospect, perhaps the Skpe call to the team before the Final match was just to make them understand how appreciative he and the nation were of their heroics so they don’t feel otherwise when we zip open the goody bag.If at all there is a time to miss the frivolity and carefree spending of the previous government, it is now.
A leader must know how to kill two birds with one stone. I can’t say Obasanjo is the best president we have ever had, but he has my respect for that.Though he fought his enemies and whipped his sheep back into line with the EFCC, he will go down in history as a man who was tough on corruption.If President Buhari had good advisers in his camp, they would tell him, he can kill more than one bird from this situation. First, with the attendant accolades that would accompany publicly urging his ministers, the representatives and senators to give up at least N500,000 of their monthly wages for rewarding our eaglets. Second, by reiterating in a subtle manner, the current state of our finances and what we should expect next year and then finally, by demonstrating just how competent a leader he is.
It is most insulting to the accomplishment of these young men to drag our feet over less than a million naira gift each while our leaders still pocket their fat wages.The most honorable thing to do is to part with a little to give honor to whom its due.Money realized from that can put N1.5 Million and the keys to a brand new Peugeot 406 in the hands of every member of the team and crew.Most of these ‘kids’ won’t be going back to school except they are offered scholarships and there couldn’t be a better incentive to make the most of their lives on the path they have chosen.
We have the most genuine footballing talents in the whole world as our record number of U-17 World Cup wins have shown. The talents only start to tail behind others when we can no longer cheat factors necessary for a healthy development-tips on diet and lifestyle, right training, right facilities, and the requisite coaching expertise.The least we can do is to encourage these teens since we don’t have an enabling environment for their continous growth and development.
The corporate bodies haven’t been forthcoming either.One would have expected a lot from them considering that there are no longer in a position to do much promotion as a result of cash crunch.An August opportunity such as this is a marketing department’s dream; an opportunity to advertise and do good PR by rewarding our schoolboy heroes for a lot less than they would have to cough out from a leaner purse over time. I expected the phone and electronic companies to hand out android phones, tablets or ipads in exploitation of the new craze for them. I am not a trained marketing expert and I would have to talk to one to find out if the government’s body language and the reluctance of the companies to reward the eaglets are in anyway related.Ultimately, i don’t think anyone would fault them but the government cannot wriggle itself out of this from a holistic point of view.
Yes, these are very bad times for us but if ever there will be a time to reward World cup winners with anything less than a million, it has to be when we aren’t paying lawmakers more than N10 million monthly and aren’t maintaining 9 presidential planes.
Umar Sa’ad Hassan is a lawyer based in Kano.