Nigerians can easily be mollified by promises; the more audacious and lofty the promise, the more they believe it. But when such promises fail to come to fruition, Nigerians are one of the most self-sacrificial people on earth. In fact, their gullibility is such that you can build another false hope by making further promises on top of unfulfilled ones. Because there is generally no respect for human rights or regard for self-worth, Nigerians have borne some of the most abusive relationships between leadership and followership in Africa.
The Olympic Games have just ended with Nigerians managing a bronze medal in soccer and holding the 78th position on the medal table. The first, second and third countries had a total of 121, 67 and 70 medals respectively. Britain, with a tally of 70 fell into third position because it had less number of gold medals. The Nigerian soccer team endured so many debacles that on two occasions, they had to rely on outside help in order to make it to the venue and to actually participate in the Olympics. Dr Katsuya Takasu, a Japanese plastic surgeon gave a total of $390,000 to the team about two hours after they defeated Honduras in the third place football match. The good doctor saw effort and self-sacrifice in the boys, who were fighting against all odds, and decided to reward those attributes. He must have compared what a typical Japanese team takes for granted with what the Nigerians were never granted. It is obvious that when motivated, Nigerians are able to add zero to zero and come up with one.
The Nigerian authorities in charge of the Olympics probably earmarked money and resources for kits, transportation, accommodation and other essentials, but most of the effort never made it to the athletes on time. In fact, some of the kits needed by Nigerian athletes arrived almost 2 weeks into the game! You can almost be certain that our athletes were assured things would be all right, by the grace of God. Nigerians in authority resort to invoking God's grace when planlessness, avarice and pathological ineptitude conspire to unmask their worthlessness. The list is endless: Salaries; grace of God, safety on the roads; grace of God, healthcare; grace of God, education; grace of God. Electricity? Try lightening. Most rights and privileges that citizens of this nation should take for granted are lazily projected into the field of circumstance to be fulfilled by a seemingly uncaring God.
Nigerians are under the burden of unfulfilled promises. In the new political dispensation that took root in the late nineties, until now, it has been a history of broken promises. Each president has exhibited traits that scuttled electoral campaign promises: Obansanjo, too know; Yar'Adua; a no show, Jonathan; too slow and Buhari; too cold. The less than stellar leaderships over the years was a sure way to destroy any hope of sport (and many other sectors) revival or excellence in Nigeria. Fifteen months into the government of PMB, the country appears to have taken a decidedly backward trajectory even when the obvious ineptitude of the previous administration is considered. Sportsmen and women have suggested that the current government's support for sports has been virtually nonexistent.
Dr Takasu made a promise and delivered on his promise a couple of hours after our team won the bronze medal. But when it comes to the government or wealthy Nigerians fulfilling promises made to sportsmen, it is a different story. According to BBC Sports, "Some members of Nigeria's Super Eagles - led by Stephen Keshi, who passed away in June - are still waiting for the houses they were promised by the government for winning the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations in Tunisia. Keshi is the fifth member of the so-called 'Golden Generation' of Nigerian footballers from 1994 to pass away, after Uche Okafor, Thompson Oliha, Rashidi Yekini and Wilfred Agbonavbare. Africa's wealthiest businessman, Aliko Dangote, has failed to fulfil his promise to reward Nigeria's team with $1m for winning the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations. Nigerian economist and banker Tony Elumelu's promise of $500,000 for the Super Eagles' Nations Cup success in South Africa remains outstanding. The country's squad members who won the first FIFA Under-16 World championship in 1985 were only rewarded after a 30-year wait. However, the rewards came too late for Kingsley Aikhionbare, who died in London in 1996"
Dangote and Elumelu are supposed to be part of a younger, successful and forward-looking generation who rub shoulders with the best on the planet discussing ideas on how to move Africa forward. However, it seems that encouraging youths in sports is not part of their forte. Obviously, genuinely supporting sports in Nigeria does not bring the usual profits and personal aggrandizement. While Nigerian football clubs are struggling to survive, Dangote has been trying to buy the England-based football club Arsenal! These local rich men are ever busy carrying out the agenda of their Western masters while bamboozling the ignorant of their benevolence.
Our rich men love recognition and honours from Washington, London and Paris; they also like local "chieftaincy" titles. In ancient times, these titles were given to the most worthy members of society who have performed great acts of valour and altruism. Today, with the right amount of money and strategic bribes everything is for sale. These men of means and power take pride in being part of an economic order that has caused some of the greatest tragedies known to mankind.
But as the just concluded Olympic Games have shown: When the chips are down, Nigerian athletes are on their own. The only hope they have is the intervention of a Takasu, Delta Airlines or the elusive old man in the sky.
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