Thursday, January 31, 2008

Celebrations



Even if the Ghananese bash us on Sunday, the spirit here is what we want.

Wither the West?

Jeremy wrote an article that raised questions on the coming decline of the West as a world power, and the rise of the East. Like a lot of Westerners however, he forgot another region that is on the ascendancy, Amazonia. I commented on his article, but since he moderates I decided to port it here. Also I think it is blog worthy...

Interesting questions you raised, so let me attempt to answer what I (think I) can answer with speculations of my own.

Can anyone save America?

I don't think so. The slide began sometime in between the fall of the Soviet Union and the rise of China and India. You see, without someone to compete with, people (and nations) tend to become complacent, and complacency is probably the most difficult of things to shake off. I think the slide can only be stemmed, not stopped.

Will democracy remain the dominant way of political thinking?

Yes it will. As more and more people are educated the world over, it will become inevitable that they would want to self-actualise. And probably the closest that the majority of people can self-actualise in terms of politics and governance in by having a say in the government, or at least believing that they have a say in the government. That is the strength of democracy. But then this brings me to a question that has been rotating in my mind for a while now: will WESTERN style democracy survive? Forget the propaganda you hear on TV, China is a democracy. Think about that...

Would Nigeria seek its own autonomy?

Eventually, yes. As more Nigerians begin to hold their own with (or against) Westerners especially, the confidence and belief in self that is required to become truly independent, in where it matters most (the mind) would inevitably be born in them. Then the autonomy would naturally follow.

NEPA in South Africa

Maybe I'm being paranoid, but when you read articles such as this one, you get the distinct impression that between the lines someone is trying to imply that South Africa is fast becoming a third world country because of the lack of white leaders at the helm of affairs. The implication of that line of thinking of course is that niggers are poor administrators, and that whatever we touch turns to rubbish.

That line of thinking couldn't be further away from the truth. Maybe there is something no one has really considered here: during the apartheid era, the vast majority of the South African population were herded into Naziesque ghettos with basic amenities such as power deemed to be a luxury. Now those people have become human, and the capacity which was built for just the privileged few has failed to expand to cope with the new demand. The only thing that I think was really wrong here is that this was predicted 10 years ago, and nothing was done about it. But then, who controls the corporations?

Looking for Kikuyus to kill

The current crisis in Kenya has given more ammunition to certain segments of the Nigerian internet community who feel that mono-ethnic countries are the way to go. After all is said and done they argue, the nations in Africa were foisted on us by avaricious colonial masters who then made conditions favourable for ethnic violence to keep African nations down. At first glance they would appear to be correct.

However, this crisis shouldn't have surprised anyone. Like in any situation where different peoples are placed together, there was always some acrimony under the surface waiting for precisely the right mix to push it through to the surface. That mix has come with two selfish guys at the forefront of affairs. Raila Odinga, from the Luo ethnic group, and Mwai Kibaki, from the Kikuyu ethnic group. Those are two of three major ethnic groups in Kenya, the third being the Luhya. As always with most ethnic crises (the Rwanda genocide being the exception in my humble if sometimes flawed opinion), the 'elite' are manipulating the ignorance, paranoia and insecurity of the 'masses' for their own benefit. You will never see Odinga and Kibaki attack each other on the basis of I am Kikuyu and you are Luo so you must die.

During the twenty four years of Daniel Arap Moi's presidency, Kenya's ethnic rivalries were kept in check by a delicate series of alliances, appointments and suave politicking, a lesson which his successor Kibaki failed woefully to learn, or deliberately ignored for his own selfish ends. Kibaki's greater sin however, is that of going back on his word. You see back in 2002 when Moi was leaving, he supported the son of the father of Kenya, also a Kikuyu, against Kibaki. Back then Kibaki enlisted the help of other ethnic groups (I hate the word tribe) to defeat Moi and Uhuru Kenyatta. Kibaki was aided by no other than the same Odinga who has become his 'mortal enemy'. As far as I have read, the understanding was that by the 2007 election, Kibaki now 76 years old would gracefully step down and allow Odinga (and by extension other ethnic groups) a shot at the presidency. You see, all of Kenya's presidents (Kenyatta, Moi and Kibaki) have either been Kikuyu (Kenyatta and Kibaki) or closely allied (Moi). The 2002 election was free and fair, and Kibaki (with Odinga's help it must be stressed) won it handsomely.

Move the hands of the clock to 2007, and Kibaki (like Obasanjo some miles to the West) reneged on his promise, and effectively used ethnicity as a platform to run against Odinga. Not only that, he rigged the elections. We know what has become of Kenya since then, and I sincerely doubt that Kenya can survive this intact. They appear to be more foolish than Nigerians who no longer allow little matters such as another thief trying to manipulate the people for his own ends to cause a major crisis. Or is it that Nigerians are just too self seeking to let such things affect us?

My grouse with Odinga is that he has allowed this issue to really become an ethnic issue, maybe even played on the paranoia of his kinsmen, and now Kenya has lost its innocence. Watching the images on the screen, including Nkem Ifejika's report on the BBC, the one thing I am certain of is that the mass bands of people roaming about looking for heads to cut off do not even know what they are fighting for. And that has been the tragedy of ethnic politics in Africa.


Juve watch

Thanks to both the Green Eagles and the Elephants, Juve's latest signing Momo Sissoko would be with us for Catania on Sunday. About time too. Our injury list reads like a sick joke.

Most Juve fans already hate Sissoko, so he has his work cut out for him. The reasons for the hatred are simple really. He has been on a 'decline' for the last two years now, but to be fair to him he had a career threatening spell on the sidelines, so people think the 'pool have sold us a dummy. The fee breakdown is this: £3.2 million now, £2.5 million in 2009, £2.5 million in 2010, then a performance related 'bonus' to the bloody Scousers. Another reason that the fans already hate him is that Ranieri attempted to sign him in the summer, and he declined back then saying that 'Liverpool are a bigger club than Juventus'. What stupidity. Now look where he is. Indeed he has to work extra harder to prove himself on the pitch and win the hearts of the fans.

Observations from the Ivory Coast-Mali game: Momo came on in the second half and provided Mali with an almost instant midfield advantage. There was a difference in skill level between him and his team mates, even Keita. He did nicely on the ball as his touches were quite accurate. He then settled back in the middle of the field and supplied a handful of well-paced long passes to Mali’s right wing efforts. Momo certainly looked every bit as determined to win possession and he was to maintain it. Problem was (thankfully for Naija), his team could not make anything more of it. What impressed me the most about Momo though was his remarkable athleticism on the ball. Almost unconventional and at times borderline suicidal for possession, but this game certainly showed hints of his very dynamic ability.

Momo is going to do nicely as I think he’ll make a better compliment with Cristiano Zanetti in the middle of the park, and consign Tiago permanently to the bench. Being a little slower than Sissoko is okay with Cristiano as he can make up for his speed with his extremely accurate passing long or short. With Sissoko interchanging with Nocerino, you have the same or possibly even more fiery energy with more speed and greater passing consistency. At the very least, Momo will make for a solid option in our midfield. That said, I can’t any thing other than injury preventing him from regaining the promising form he enjoyed with Valencia. He is after all he’s still very, very young.

Report Conclusion
Aggression: 8.5
Passing: 7.5
Speed: 8
Technical Ability: 7-9

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Beautiful Game and I

"Football is the beautiful game" ---Pele.

Methinks he was wrong. I mean, if you've ever been with a group of otherwise rational people, and talked with them, you'd probably love them. When you meet those same people on the back of their football team, you begin to wonder what went wrong with them. You would be forced to ask how is it that for ninety minutes they could become so irrational and uncivilised. So many vices are common when people throw off the toga of civility and wear the toga of the football fan. Industrial language becomes a given. Xenophobia is an accepted part of being a fan. I mean, how can such a game be called beautiful? I've told my girl before, and I will reiterate it here: I have failed exams because of my love for football, and our kids will not be allowed near a football pitch as long as I can help it.

I will tell you two true life stories which happened within days of one another...

On the morning of February 7, 2000, a much younger (and less cynical) me got up to go to work. At that point in time I was on industrial attachment at Flour Mills in Apapa, Lagos. That day I got to work, signed in that I had arrived, and promptly took off to the closest branch of the now defunct All States Trust Bank. My mission there was to buy a ticket for a football match that was taking place at Sports City, Surulere that evening. The match: African Nations Cup quarter-final game between Nigeria and Senegal. Mission accomplished, and tickets in hand (or do I say pocket?), I went back to work. My supervisor seeing my countenance warned me against leaving the office early. He was talking to himself. At the first opportunity, I left the office and headed straight to Yaba. My friend A stays there and unlike me had not gotten a placement for his Industrial Training. We spent the next 90 minutes watching that dramatic match between Egypt and Tunisia, then headed to Sports City.

Now, if you have ever been to a game in Lagos involving the then Super Eagles, you would understand the meaning of the word bedlam. The drama that accompanies trying to get into that stadium redefines the words confusion, anarchy, disorder, and (insert word here). I mean, why can't we learn to queue? We imported all the British vices during the colonial era, but their one main strength, the queue culture, we dropped like hot iron...

On that day, as in the three previous games none of which I had missed, the men of the NPF MOPOL unit were out in force and as is usual with them, had abandoned all known humane methods of crowd control. They were tear gassing us, whipping us and beating us. To make matters worse, we were beating each other too. The usual area boys were out in full making life a misery for normal football lovers like me who just wanted to watch the match, when the unthinkable happened. My ticket was snatched from my hand. Alarm. What to do? I mean, at the time, I felt that if I didn't enter the stadium to watch the match that I would die. Quick thinking meant that I mounted the nearest bike straight to my uncle's house in Surulere, and toasted him for N400 to buy another ticket (note that the N400 was black market rate, recommenced retail price was N200). He gave me the money, and I bought a ticket from some tout back at the stadium. The new ticket I bought was for B section.


Now, one thing I had always been careful about ever since I started going to Sports City was to always get a ticket to either of E, F or G sections in the popular stands since they offer the best view of the pitch. B section is just behind one of the goals, and any football fan would tell you that that isn't exactly the best view...

Back to my story, I rejoined the mob which was trying to get into the ground, and you wouldn't believe that lightning attempted to strike in the same place twice. Someone tried to snatch my ticket again. This time I was having none of it, and ended up in a fisticuffs with a genuine area boy. To be truthful, I was at the receiving end of a beating from the area boy, but the most important thing was that he failed to make me surrender the ticket. The guy kept pummelling away until a Mobile Policeman came and pummelled him in turn. That probably saved my life because as far as I was concerned at the time, the area boy would only take that ticket from my cold dead hands, and it looked like the guy was willing to do it. The policeman who chased my assailant away took me to the stadium clinic where my wounds were dressed and I was given a pain killer, then made to sleep. Kick off for the match was at 7pm, and that nice policeman came back to the clinic to wake me up. He came in and woke me at around 5 minutes to kick off. His name was B Okpabio, and I owe him a debt of gratitude.

By the time I got out of the bed and left the clinic, the game had already kicked off. In my weakened state I ran from the clinic to the turnstiles, got through and the very first action I saw of the match was Ike Shorunmu diving in one direction, and Khalilou Fadiga placing the ball in the other direction. Senegal had taken the lead. I fainted.

I came to about five minutes later, a crowd around me fanning me and being as misguidedly helpful as only Nigerians can be. I shifted so I could get a glimpse of the score board (B section is where the scoreboard is at in Sports City), and there it was, in bright colours: Nigeria 0-1 Senegal. I was about to pass out again when someone poured pure water on me, and people began fanning me again. I recall distinctly hearing a guy shout, 'make una no let am faint again o. If e faint e go pass there die.' Forward to the 80th minute of the game. Unlike the rubbish that the team had played against Congo about a week before when I happily joined the crowd to stone them, they had played well against the Senegalese, but the goals simply were not coming. By this time the entire stadium had turned into a great big church, and all of us in the stands were holding hands together and irrespective of ethnic or religious inclination we were singing two songs: Only Jesus Can Save and Kpo ya Chukwu na o ga za. In the 85th minute, Julius Aghahowa equalised.

I will probably never again see the palpable relief I saw that day when that goal came. Full grown men stripped themselves naked with joy, and girls (who would otherwise be forming) rushed forward to hug those men. No one cared. We were all so happy. Up until now I can swear that the shout of sheer ecstasy was heard as far away as Shagamu. When Aghahowa got the second, I will for the rest of my life never know what came into me, but I saw myself on the pitch, with maybe a million other people behind me. We had only one thing in our minds: to kiss Aghahowa. When Okocha was sent off late in the game, no one cared. We had won, we had shown those milk drinking, charcoal black Senegalese who was boss, and that was all that mattered...

The second story occurred a few days later, February 13. The venue was the same, Sports City (some people call it National Stadium), Surulere. We had beaten the noisy creatures from down south in the semi final, and it had set up a mouth watering final with the plantain eaters just east of us. This is one story I don't like remembering, so I will try and keep it brief: they won.

I remember trekking around the entire Surulere after the match that evening, in a daze. Later that evening, when I entered a bus, the bus was full of men/boys like me, all red eyed. Then the conductor had the nerve to ask, 'owo da?' There is no need to explain what happened to him. I couldn't go to work the next day as I was still so depressed about the events of the night before. In the process, I had forgotten that it was St. Valentine's day, and my girlfriend at the time came to visit me and reminded me. I remember looking at her like she was some creature from outer space, and I remember asking her if she hadn't heard of the national tragedy that occurred the day before. She looked me in the eye and uttered those sacrilegious words, 'It's only a game!' No babe, football is more than that. Bill Shankly would tell you. Needless to say, the relationship didn't survive that fight...


Yesterday we saw a 'miracle' that reminded me of one act of selfless prayer made by a friend of mine two years ago. If you want to know, the guy is married (to the same girl) now, and I wish them all the best. May they have a hundred sons. Amen. I can't even begin to imagine the number of prayers offered by Nigerians to the Most High yesterday, and the number of promises made on the spur of the moment. Well, He granted our prayers. But why is it that we always let the Green Eagles do this to us?

The 'miracle' in Ghana yesterday again brought out the worst in me as I was flipping through channels agonising about the outcome of the game. So the question then becomes, how can a game which makes an otherwise very cool and rational person (at least that is what I like to think of myself) so hopelessly irrational (not to talk of xenophobic!), be called beautiful?

Speaking of the game on Sunday, I hope those midgets are preparing for the trashing that we will hand to them that day. There is no breda in this one o. They made too much mouth after beating us 4-1 in a friendly, and laughing at us as we struggled to qualify, all the while conveniently forgetting the small fact that they have not beaten us in a competitive fixture now for 16 years and counting. I still don't like Berti, and I doubt that anything (except if he wins the World Cup) can make me like him, but at the end of the day, the ballers are wearing the holy Green-White-Green, and support them we must. They must out the name Super back in the Green Eagles. I would love it if we rape the midgets in their own backyard using engine oil as the only lubricant. Something tells me that we will. Something tells me that we will rape the Ghananese, then go on to play either Angola or the plantain boys in the semis. As per the plantain boys, well, they've never beaten us in an AFCON match outside of the final match, so I have no fears. As for the Angolans (there is no derogatory term for them yet), we still have scores to settle going back to one bright, sunny day in Kano...

UP EAGLES!!!

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Pigs are flying!!!

...so we've earned the right to be raped by Ghana on Sunday. I'm moving out of my neighbourhood until the end of February.

Why cause me heartache?

So Papa Eagles have finally scored one and with Ivory Coast leading Mali 2-0, we would sneak through if it remains like this. Then what? Get arse invaded by the Ghananese on Sunday? One of my neighbours is Ghananese. God forbid bad thing.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Defending the indefensible

One thing I've noticed about the economic system in the United Kingdom is that it is structured in such a way so as to keep the cash circulating within the system. There is nothing to suggest that the economies of other industrialised countries aren't structured along a similar pattern. In countries like Naija on the other hand, there is no way to prevent large amounts flowing out. On the contrary, the incentives are more in favour of taking out the cash to 'protect' it.

Yesterday a man died. His name was Suharto, and he was once the undisputed leader of the world's largest Muslim population. His regime was a brutal military dictatorship (over a million killed in his 31 years in power), which like a lot of brutal military dictatorships that began in the 1960s found friends in the Western world because of a tough 'anti-communist' stand. He was also 'popular' for stealing from his country incredible sums of money totalling somewhere between $15 and $35 billion. However, he would probably be remembered for the fact that during his rule, Indonesia experienced rapid economic growth and industrialisation, and was in fact along with South Korea, Hong Kong and Singapore one of the 'Asian Tigers' of the 1990s.

This brings us to something that has been on my mind a little while, corruption.

Corruption can simply be defined (dictionary.com) as the use of a position of trust for dishonest gain. This definition aptly applies not only to Suharto, but to so many other leaders who have straddled the world of politics. I could name names, but that would distract from the issue I really want to talk about. You see, the accepted view, one which is encouraged by groups such as Transparency International, is that corruption retards development. Suharto is/was a glowing example of how wrong that view can be. Another example would be Augusto Pinochet, former dictator of Chile. My personal observations of politics in the United Kingdom also convinces me that this notion is wrong. Having observed the various scandals in this country, and the way government is run, I have come to the conclusion (perhaps inevitably) that corruption doesn't necessarily retard economic development, and being economically developed doesn't automatically remove corruption.

Back to the example of Suharto, it is well worth noting that he came to power at about the same time, and ruled his country for about the same length of time as Mobutu Sese Seko in what is now the DRC. In that 30 year period, Mobutu stole 'just' about $5 billion from his country, a country that is far richer than Indonesia in terms of resources, while as I stated earlier, Suharto stole somewhere in the region of $15 - $35 billion, 3 - 7 times what Mobutu did. If corruption automatically made a country poorer, then Indonesia should have been in such a state that (Zaire) would look like paradise, but the reality is that during that 30 year period, Indonesia's Human Development Index rose by a factor of three, while Zaire's fell by a factor of three.

It would be a lot easier for everyone if corruption automatically equalled under-development as Transparency International would like us to believe, but the reality is that it doesn't. We have earlier defined corruption, now let us define the most basic component of corruption, a bribe. A bribe is simply defined as anything given or serving to persuade or induce. Kids for example can be given a bribe in order to make them read their books. That doesn't make the bribe bad. We heard about the case of Siemens attempting to win contracts in Nigeria by paying hefty bribes. While I accept that such actions are unethical, I would say that if Nigeria gained from the contracts, then they may just be necessary. In the West such things happen in 'more sophisticated' manners such as fully paid holidays, the minister's children being sent to expensive schools fully paid for by the company looking for a contract, or get handsomely rewarded after office for services rendered whilst in office. In our case, our politicians want to see the raw cash in their foreign bank accounts, and both sadly and unfortunately, in most cases do not see the need to render the services to the people which the swore to render. Therein lies the difference.

I think that organisations such as the World Bank are using the whole anti-corruption cry as a smoke screen to distract from the failure of policies such as SAP which they 'recommended' to our admittedly daft rulers. They knew that our leaders were corrupt, and were siphoning large amounts to vaults in Western Europe, but did nothing about it. And that act of hypocrisy rendered even the most well meaning of the 'Structural Adjustment Programmes' meaningless and useless. For me the answer to our problems in countries like Nigeria is to follow the example set by corrupt leaders such as Suharto and Pinochet, and keep (at least the bulk of) the loot at home. If a bribe is deposited in a bank in Zurich, there is no way it will contribute to the Nigerian economy. It would be unavailable for investment, hence it can't create jobs and it won't as a result create more income for more people. It would only accumulate interest for the recipient of the bribe. The difference between Suharto's Indonesia and Pinochet's Chile on the one hand, and Mobutu's Zaire and Babangida's Nigeria on the other, is that in the case of the former, the bulk of the looted public funds stayed at home, was invested at home, created jobs at home, and helped lift people at home out of the poverty cycle. In the latter case, the money was DHLed to the West. It is my belief that as humans we probably can't avoid corruption (result of our flawed nature). So in countries like Nigeria, the focus should be on finding ways to strengthen our banking sector even more so that our leaders would feel confident enough to leave their loot in the Nigerian system.


Juve watch

Now that the international madness is all but over, we can return to club football. Juve's 2008 finally kicked into gear yesterday and poor Livorno were at the end of a 1-3 home drubbing. The win put some daylight between us and Fiorentina in fourth place. Enjoy the highlights of the game.

Friday, January 25, 2008

We need to beg our local coaches for forgiveness

Every time an indigenous coach has taken the Green Eagles to the Nations Cup they have come back home with a medal.

1984: Ade Onigbinde - Silver Medal
2002: Amodu Shuaibu - Bronze Medal
2004: Christian Chukwu - Bronze Medal
2006: Austin Eguavoen - Bronze Medal

We owe them an apology for
the shabby way they've been treated, humiliated, underpaid, under-appreciated, disrespected, insulted, and disregarded.

Even when, with far less support and remuneration from our football ''administrators'', they regularly churned out decent teams that held their own and got to the latter stages of Nations Cups, successes we always took for granted, feeling somehow that where they did 'okay' a white man would always do better.

Now we bloody well know better.

*Consensus from CyberEagles.

We are out

enough said.

45 minutes from the brink.

Benin, Namibia...

We appear to be in good company. Someone should bloody sack Berti Vogts!

The Baba Legacy

"I met Rome a city of bricks, and left it a city of marble." --- Augustus Caesar.

Leaders, sorry people, love to leave something behind when they are gone. This so that they will be remembered by what they left behind. In the case of mere mortals, they usually want to leave something behind that their families would remember them by, hence you find fathers struggling to send their children to the best schools they can afford, and leaving as much as they can for the kids to fight over when they are gone. In much the same way, the men (or women) who are given the opportunity to become leaders of other men love to leave something behind such that not only their families, but whole countries, and in some cases history itself would remember them.

It was with that in mind that the first emperor of arguably the mightiest empire ever to rule the world, made the above statement on his deathbed as a testament to his legacy. You see, when Augustus came to prominence as Octavius, the little known nephew of the mighty Julius Caesar, Rome was embroiled in civil strife, and the empire was far from assured. By the time he died after a forty-one year reign, Rome was the undisputed master of the known universe, and remained so for three centuries afterwards. That was Augustus Caesar's legacy.

In the one thousand nine hundred and ninety four years since the death of Augustus Caesar, a lot of leaders have come and gone, and all have for good or for bad, left their legacies for the world to gaze upon. History has taken note of some, thus the Saladins, the Genghis Khans, the Napoleons, the Stalins and the Hitlers have become leading lights of history. Others such as the Barbarossas, the Ala ad-Dins, the Wellingtons, the Eisenhowers and dare I say the Churchills also have their places in history assured, but probably wouldn't have had that were it not for the first set. Nevertheless, they like the others left behind a legacy. Yet a lot of others have been forgotten, and are in the history books simply because fortune smiled on them and placed them atop a 'throne'.

Leaders in the last group would never be known by the wider population except those with a keen interest in looking at history books.

Personally, I think that the current set of world leaders all fall into the last category, and I think they agree with me, which is why for example there is a mad scramble by the lame duck in Washington D.C to 'ensure his legacy by bringing peace to the Middle East'. Sorry sir, your legacy is forever going to be Iraq. I mean, how can you bring peace to the Middle East while you are deliberately alienating HAMAS? Another person who knows this lesson about the historical legacy of leaders is Anthony Blair. That in my opinion is the reason he has taken up this rather silly role of 'Middle East peace envoy', and is almost desperately angling to be the first 'president' of the EU. All these actions in my opinion are an attempt to get himself a prominent position in the history books that would be written five centuries from now. Unfortunately for Mr. Blair, this writer thinks that he would be remembered for one of three things, either for the gross dishonesty of his regime, or the fact that he confirmed that the 'Great' has been well and truly dropped from the name of the empire on which the Sun will never set, or his unbridled avarice. Then there is one more person who has a keen interest in how history would treat him. His name, Olusegun Obasanjo.

There is really no need to bore you with all the details of Obasanjo's presidency of Nigeria as you already know. What I must point out however is that as far back as 1990 I knew Obasanjo to be someone who worried about what history would say about him. Reading his books Nzeogwu and My Command rather early in life gave me an insight into what makes Obasanjo tick. At the risk of sounding petty, I would say that especially in My Command, that Obasanjo (like most people who do autobiographies to be fair to him anyway) tended to embellish his own role in events (3 Marine Commando for example), and downplay the roles of others (Col. Ben Adekunle for example). My point is this: Obasanjo's one desire is to enter the history books on the 'right' side of history.

One thing that is definite is this: Olu Obasanjo's name in history is assured. The question that remains to be answered now is how. You see it is no mean feat to have led 2.5% of the world's population twice, but there is the small matter of whether he left them in a better state than he met them, and on that little fact stands the entire gamut of how Uncle Sege's page would read. That page is still being written. For some people, Uncle Sege did a rather good job. For a lot of others, he did a piss poor job. For Chxta, well, one thing is definite, I don't like him. However, one can't ignore some truths: during Obasanjo's second stint as leader of Nigeria, our economy (at least based on all known economic indices) actually grew. Something it had not done since the days of Shagari, almost 30 years earlier. Again, during Obasanjo's second tenure, some form of accountability began to enter into the Nigerian system (that is debatable, but it is fact). However, like Tony Blair in Britain, there is a lot of evidence about Obasanjo's avarice.

There is a lot that is happening about recently that makes one wonder exactly when the man's page would stop being written, because as things stand, even if he falls down and dies today, a lot would continue happening because of him, and to him. Some of the more interesting things have happened in the last two years and they may well shape his legacy...

The first thing which happened to Obasanjo, which began to shape his legacy was when he lost his third term bid in a rather humiliating fashion. From that moment the almost absolute authority that he had was taken away from him, and Nigeria was set on the path of true democracy. To my dying day, I would always maintain that Nigeria owes a debt of gratitude to Obasanjo's deputy Atiku Abubakar for that, and in the long run, that is what Atiku will be remembered for, so his own place on the 'right' side of history may very well be guaranteed unless something happens before he shuffles off this mortal coil.

When the third term thing failed, Obasanjo was forced to hand over to his hand-picked man, current president Umar Yar'Adua. The elections which brought Yar'Adua in were deeply flawed, and there is a school of thought which states that Obasanjo deliberately had them totally rigged in the hope of causing a post June 12 1993 kind of crisis. Under such conditions, he could have (as the constitution permits this) declared a state of emergency, and continued as president almost
ad infinitum. Despite the rigging of the elections, there was no civil unrest (the kind that we have seen in Kenya which have virtually guaranteed Mwai Kibaki a lot more time in power), neither was there any coup attempt. Obasanjo had to hand over. *P.S I think I need to write on the Kenya thing soon because as far as I can see, that country is in trouble. Odinga isn't any better than Kibaki, and I said it ever since I first saw his face advertising on SuperSport back in September 2005.

Shortly after he once again became a private citizen, Obasanjo began to see some of the shortcomings of his period of governance. His legacy to Lagos, unarguably Nigeria's economic fulcrum was terrible at best. Under his presidency Lagos was starved of funds for no other reason than the fact that himself and the then governor of the state, Bola Tinubu, were from different political parties. Lagos has been growing at a rate I would describe as nothing short of alarming, but from during Obasanjo's reign, it was largely ignored by the Federal Government, and two of the worst examples of this negligence were the collapse of a bridge at Ijora, and the collapse of the BOI building at Marina. Neither have yet to be fixed. Back to the main topic, Obasanjo having no access to the presidential helicopter was forced to endure that terrible traffic jam that occurs everyday between Egbeda and Iyana-Ipaja, oftimes stretching as far as Abule-Egba. He complained bitterly, but didn't acknowledge his role in causing that state of affairs. We all had a nice little laugh.

Then Obasanjo's love for the spotlight was challenged, and he began to complain about the way the Nigerian press constantly slagged him off. As if to tell him that he is no longer important, the press began to ignore him (imagine that!). Then one of his acolytes Patricia Etteh was forced out of an office that Obasanjo had helped her acquire, while his daughter got caught up in a scandal. All this was about the same time that his successor refused to play ball over the PDP convention. Obasanjo's grip on power was slowly being loosened, and his 'fall from grace' was confirmed when he went to Ibadan and acclaimed Adedibu as 'father of the PDP'. I mean could it get much lower than that? Apparently it could, and it did.

On the economic front, the deals which he pushed through in the dying days of his administration are being revoked one after the other, and his acolytes are beginning to run for cover. The Kaduna and Port Harcourt refineries which were sold to some of his 'cronies' have been repossessed by the FG, other contracts that were awarded by his administration have been suspended or revoked outright, and the shady deals made are coming to light. An even more embarrassing event was the admission of the Director General of the Nigerian Stock Exchange (or is it accusation?) that he forced her to stay on as Transcorp chairman, despite the fact that there was an obvious conflict of interest. It's also interesting to note that the Transcorp share offer has plunged, and last I heard it was hovering around the N2 mark.

Then there is the 'madness' of Gbenga Obasanjo. I won't pay that one too much heed because I came to the conclusion (when I read this) that Gbenga has an axe to grind with his father, and this only confirms it. Yes, we know that when it comes to matters of ndi umu nwanyi, that Obasanjo Snr. is a tad indisciplined, and had Gbenga just stopped at accusing his wife of sleeping with his father, I'd have given him an ear. But to include her father in the accusation? Gbenga Obasanjo is insane. As far as I know, there are three high profile Obasanjo kids, and while one of them appears to be doing well, the other two (Gbenga and Iyabo) appear to be hell bent on embarrassing their father. One of them (Iyabo) by being too much of her father's daughter and participating in wanton looting, avarice, politicking, and profiteering, and the other (Gbenga) by doing every family's nightmare and washing all their dirty linen in public. In a funny way, it is what his kids do that may end up being the true legacy of Olusegun Okikiola Aremu Matthew Obasanjo.

My passport

You can't begin to imagine my relief when I received a letter from the British Home Office confirming that they have received my passport. I had earlier sent it by registered post, but the confirmation of receipt took some time in coming and I was beginning to panic especially given the recent high profile casualties of the Royal Mail. I mean, the kind of data that has been lost in this country's mailing system in the last few months is mental. I swear I will never beef NIPOST for as long as I live.

Societe Generale

Only one question: what would have been the effect on 140 millions had Jerome Kerviel been a Nigerian? I can tell you...

They'd have been watched even more at the world's airports, subjected to more humiliation, more notices would have sprung up warning 'good' people from other countries about them, more talk shows would have been devoted to them and their 'genetic criminality', and more of them would have been denied visas to go on genuine business.

Nigeria expects

*At Anonymous, the official name for the Nigerian National Team used to be the Green Eagles, but in 1990 after their epic comeback from the jaws of defeat in Algeria, the then CGS, Rear Admiral Augustus Aikhomu called them his Super Eagles, and the name stuck. I hope that explains it to you.

In just under seven hours, our Green Eagles would take to the field to play the Eagles of Mali in a Ghana 2008 Group B fixture. This fixture is a make or mar fixture, and history beckons to the Green Eagles as not since 1982 has Nigeria failed to progress beyond the group stage of the African Cup of Nations, and not since 1988 has Nigeria failed to make the semi finals. Would this set of Green Eagles be the ones to bring us so much shame?


I think not. Up Eagles!!!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Politicians are liars!

On Sunday morning, I watched the British Home Secretary Jacqui Smith make the following statement on the BBC's Andrew Marsh Show, "I will not feel safe walking the streets of London."

A few minutes ago, on the same BBC (this time on The Breakfast Show), she denied ever making that statement.

Damn!

Edit: Does anyone have Nick Leeson's phone number? I'd dearly love to know what he thinks of the largest bank fraud in history, a piece of news that is breaking as we speak.

In other news, rumours flying about suggest that i) The Green Eagles had a fight on the team bus after the Ivorian defeat. Would that they had shown that passion on the field, would that they would bring that passion to bear in the game against Mali; ii) Frederic Kanoute, Malian striker says that Naija should forget the quarters. Shades of Mustapha Hadji eight years ago?


Juve watch

We came back from 2 down to draw ten man Inter 2-2 in the Coppa Italia yesterday. I didn't watch it as I was tied down with the Nations Cup, but you can get a match report here.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Nigeria 0-1 Ivory Coast

P.S: with Mali beating Benin, Nigerians should prepare for the hitherto unthinkable, we would likely fall out in the first round of an African Nations Cup. The sad fact is this, the initiative is with the Malians.

So the form book was not torn up at all, and the Ivorians have taken three points from our Green Eagles. O for the days when Nigeria's national team was Super...


It is all too easy to blame Berti for the slack Eagles that we saw today, but let's face it, the man failed to justify his pay cheque with his selection, and that was where my complaints began this evening. There was no left sided midfielder in the team which began the game, and the two players who can adapt to that role (Odemwingie and Nsofor) were left on the bench. This singular selection problem ruined the game for Martins and Aiyegbeni because they spent a lot of the game ranging out to the left to pick up loose balls.

Another problem with the selection was playing Kanu in the middle, a middle containing Yaya Toure and Didier Zokora! How the hell was he expected to cope? Let's face it, Kanu simply doesn't have the legs anymore, and his best use in the context of the Green Eagles is as an impact player.

Yet another problem was the selection of Onyeka Apam to play right back. The boy is good, I accept that, but for the last two years he has been playing centre back for OGC Nice, and playing it excellently, so why put him in right back, a position he hasn't played before? And it showed. He failed to bomb forward to support Utaka (who by the way is one lazy mofo) on the right. On the left we had that problem of leaving Taiwo alone, and the boy tried. But the moment the Ivorians realised that he was all alone there, they brought on Keita, and that was that.

I now officially hate Jose Mourinho, and if the bastard is assassinated tomorrow, come and look for me. The attacking instincts that John Mikel Obi once possessed have been well and truly drilled away, and what is left is a Frank Lampard imitation. Mikel is still a good player, but he isn't mature enough to boss a midfield on his own, and it showed when Kanu was removed. Had Mikel been more mature, or more attack minded on another hand, the outcome may well have been different. Olofinjana tried his best, but he was out of his depth, and well, we've talked about Kanu before.

Being a German, I wonder why Vogts didn't opt for a 3-5-2 with Apam, Yobo and Shittu (who was immense today) in defence, Mikel-Olofinjana as holding midfielders, the pace of Utaka and Taiwo on the wings, Aiyegbeni and Martins up front, and Kanu in the 'hole' behind them. Same personnel, different implementation which I daresay would have won it.
In any event this was the tamest performance I've seen by a team wearing the hallowed Green-White-Green since that lame game against the Danes ten years ago, and it calls to question the commitment of our players. They all looked like they want to get over this shit and head back to their clubs. Seriously, could you imagine Salomon Kalou waltzing through any Nigerian defence back in the day that contained renowned hackers such as Bright Omokaro, Austin Eguavoen, Chidi Nwanu, Uche Okafor, Ben Iroha, Stephen Keshi, Andrew Uwe or even as recently as Okechukwu Uche and Taribo West? Someone would have broken his legs on the spot. There was simply no passion in the Nigerian team today, and the fact that the Ivorians could only manage a one goal victory was probably down to the fact that they have not yet blended. What rubbish? In a Naija match against a team that beat us the last time we played, the players were shaking hands with the enemy before the game??? Didn't any of them watch Zidane's headbutt? That is passion. That is the will to win. Jeez! Thunder Balogun and Muda Lawal must be turning in their graves.

Anyway, like I said months back, they'd more than likely beat us, and today, they did.