Thursday, 21 July 2016 16:07

Nigeria is turning My Generation Into Angry Old Men and Women

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That Nigerian is a country with great promise goes without saying. Economically she is endowed with all kinds of resources: oil, gas, gold, coal and a thousand more minerals, solid and liquid. It has palm, groundnuts, cocoa, rubber, arable lands, and water, to name just the tip of the iceberg. Nigeria has the human capital in abundance, 140 million strong young men and women. And old people too! Name it; and Nigeria would offer it in abundance.

But Nigeria remains very backward and getting further behind. It is perhaps one of the few places where each generation is succeeded by a worse generation – educationally, in infrastructure development, in peace and harmony, in moral rectitude, in patriotism, etc. To illustrate. Consider the qualities/qualifications of the first Nigerian VC’s of Ibadan, UNN, Lagos, Ife, ABU. Do you see any current VC’s that would match their scholarship? Consider the FG roads of the 60’s and todays FG roads. In that age a 504 Peugeot 6-sitter station wagon would travel from Enugu to Onitsha in one hour. Drivers would make four or five rounds a day raking up a lot of money. They would recover their investments in a year. In those long ago days, another such wagon would do a turnaround trip from Enugu to Lagos in a day. Today a trip from Enugu to Onitsha or to Lagos from Enugu takes at least three times the time. There are similar instances in the West and the North.

As bad as the above examples are they did not prompt me to write this article. What forced my hands are the upcoming Olympic Games and the inability for the coaches and athletes to get their funding until two weeks to the event. The ministry of finance and the sports authority were aware of the event and budgeted for it. The legislature approved the funds and the president signed the bill into law. Yet the funds could not be released until the president intervened (assuming that it has been released). What a mess!

One area where Nigeria is one is sports. Nigerians from Efik, Ijaw, Edo, Kanuri, Igalla etc., enjoy sporting events with equal favor. All stadia in Nigeria are filed up during most sporting events even at a time like this when food money is under sever constraints. I have heard of presidential candidates who campaigned on bringing a world cup to Nigeria. It is hilarious often. But sports administration is yet very poor. Almost every soccer team overseas has at least on Nigerian in its first or second teams and yet the odds of a world cup soccer cup in Nigeria in my life time is no better than an Igbo president’s odd – close to zero. Very close!

The frustrating thing is that the talent exists at all levels. The under17, and under 19 teams do very well but the senior national teams are awful or is it woeful? Why? Nigeria has so much inferiority complex that Dr. Ozodiobi Osuji does not have clinical words to describe it. The coaches of the high schools teams, the coaches of under 17, and 19 teams are Nigerians. Yet when we get to the senior national teams we come to believe that these same coaches cannot deliver the goods. The country becomes a prostitute selling itself to second rate foreign coaches who despite large sums offered still refuse the offer of our bodies. And when they do they use the opportunity to insult us. Case in point; the coach that abandoned the team after world cup in South Africa or somewhere. Or the one most recently who said he could not live in Nigeria. The one time Nigeria tried a home boy Keshi he performed as well or better than the imported coaches but was cut down for no known reasons.

Questions abound. One of Keshi’s frustrations was lack of adequate faculties. Is one world cup soccer stadium standard maintained 24/7 in Abuja too much to ask of Nigeria? Is an Olympic standard stadium in Calabar maintained 24/7 too much to ask of Nigeria? Is it impossible to hire a capable Nigerian to coach the sports teams? Given that Nigerian coaches trained the same Nigerians playing in foreign teams and winning successive Under 17, and 19 world cups? What is the degree of difficulty of releasing approved funds on time for athletes? What is behind the failure in satisfying this one united Nigerian passion which costs next to nothing? Where are Nigerian “big men” like Dangote’s, Ibeto’s, Danjuma’s, et al?

Nigeria can do better and ought to do better. We have frittered away our oil, gold and peanuts. Must we also waste our human resources?

People of my generation have become angry old men and women.

Could PMB come to our help? Or is he up and about chasing shadows?

Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba

Boston, Massachusetts

July 21, 2016

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Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba

Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba  currently lives in Medfield, Massachusetts.