Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The Eagles of yesterday

Now, and at the risk of repeating myself...

Another coach would be hard pressed to do much better with the current crop of players that we have. Consider this: exactly 24 hours ago, if you had asked any Nigerian to draw up a team list for the game against Zambia, I can guarantee that both Osaze and Obasi would have come in at one and two in 90% of the lists. But in the game, they both looked laden. Osaze kept misplacing passes, and not one person shed a tear when Obasi was replaced. Says a lot don't it?

Many Nigerians do not even want to admit even in the quiet of our houses when we close the doors at night that the Nigerian senior team has not played good footie in 10 years!

The problem with Nigerian football is not a coaching problem but rather a systemic one. I must give kudos to the current NFF board though because in terms of logistics, this tournament has gone on without the usual complaints that we hear such as player bonuses. However, more attention must be given to youth development. Again, we must get over this seniority mentality, and yes, we have always had it. Some of the Zambian team of last night played past their bedtimes. There is no reason why we can't invite some of our age grade boys (and I don't mean Fortune or Pa Stan) to try out with the team.

Having said all that, I must repeat my stand that sacking Amodu this close to the World Cup would be a colossal mistake. The worst that should happen to him should be that someone should be hired to assist him. If they can bury their differences for the sake of national interest, then I don't see why Siasia is not that man. But sacking Amodu this close to the World Cup is akin to shooting the messenger.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Player ratings: Nigeria-Mozambique

Vincent Enyeama – 7/10 made quality saves when called upon. Inspired confidence in his defenders
Mohammed Yusuf – 6/10 quietly effective on the day
Onyekachi Apam – 7/10 solid
Daniel Shittu – 7/10 solid. His partnership with Apam would go a long way if allowed to blossom.
Uwa Echiejile – 6/10 good performance, but some would need to work on his concentration.
Sani Kaita – 8/10 provided much needed stability to the midfield. His closing down freed the other players, something missing in the previous two games.
Dickson Etuhu – 6/10 decent game. A few silly mistakes though.
John Obi Mikel – 5/10 anonymous performance from the Chelsea man. He needs to decide what his role in the team is.
Chinedu Obasi – 6/10 could have done better with the chances he had, but full of running.
Osazee Odemwingie – 8/10 played very well, full of running, and took his first goal with aplomb.
Yakubu Aiyegbeni – 6/10 gets a positive rating because of his assist. Some woeful play though.

Subs
Obafemi Martins – 7/10 good goal, full of running. Wonderful pass to Nsofor.
Yusuf Ayila – 5/10 Did not have much impact
Obinna Nsofor – 5/10 a criminal miss from point blank made would have made the game 4-0

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Food for thought

Can Nigerians tell me one coach that has handled the Eagles that we supported?If not for Aikhomu's doggedness the Westerhof that we all hail today would long have been fired from the Eagles b4 his glorious outing in 1994.I remember people like Mitchel Obi & his friends in the media hounded & harassed Westerhof all the way through and the man was so afraid that after we lost out at the World Cup in 1994 he did not return to Nigeria. I agree that Amodu is not a good coach and has given us rubbish in this competition but Nigerians must change their attitude. NFF has their problem but the average Nigerian Sports Journalist & football fan can be unthinking and mean.

Comment left on the NEXT website...

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Disown Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab Not"

The original is to be found here. Like Chippla, I also got the invitation to join that group. Like Chippla I declined. I wanted to write about it, but events that I have to face in my line of work made me put it on the back burner. Chippla's article is below:



This blogger was invited to join a Facebook group called "150 Million Nigerians who have disowned Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab". The first thing that came to his mind was "that would have to be 150 million minus one" as he had no intention of joining such a group for whatever reason.

To "disown" connotes a refusal to accept as one's own or to repudiate. Irrespective of what one may say or think, Umar Farouk is a Nigerian. And while his actions certainly do not represent what one could expect from a "typical" Nigerian male adult (Muslim or not), disowning him does not in any way help understand why he did what he did and ensure that such does not happen again.

Every society is made up of people whose behaviors and attitudes span a Gaussian-like distribution. What this, in effect, means is that in every society, there are bound to be extremists. Of course, conditions in society also dictate what percentage of people end up holding and manifesting extreme views. In societies where people feel downtrodden, compromised or disenfranchised, there is bound to be a higher fraction of people holding extreme views.

Umar Farouks's extremism was undoubtedly driven by his religious beliefs—Islam, to be precise. How does disowning him help Nigerians understand what role extreme Islamic ideology played in causing him to attempt detonating an explosive device on board a US-bound airliner? How does it help Nigerians understand the complex interplay of religious faith, access to extremist religious groups and ideological brainwashing?

Umar Farouk is a Nigerian. Is there a significant number of young Nigerians out there (particularly Northern Nigerian Muslims) who see Osama Bin Laden as a hero? Is there a significant number of young Nigerians out there (particularly Northern Nigerian Muslims) who are sympathetic to the cause of Al-Qaeda? If yes, would a significant number of these people, given the chance, agree to work with Al-Qaeda against the United States? Where would their ultimate allegiance lie: in self, in family, in country or in religion?

Research conducted by Pew Research Center shows that quite a number of Nigerian Muslims not only agree that suicide bombings are sometimes justified but also support Mr. Bin Laden . While the Pew results may be debatable, they still call for deep soul searching.

The German publication De Spiegel recently published an article entitled "A Clash of Civilizations in Nigeria", in which Nigeria was described as a nation of increasing radicalism amongst both Christians and Muslims. Radicalism, in the sense that each religion is trying to outdo the other, leading to immense rivalry that often boils over.

Non-Muslim Nigerians would undoubtedly be particularly gutted and enraged by Umar Farouk's actions. One only needs to visit online forums to see the sort of comments some of them have left behind (the anonymity that the internet often leads some people to say things they would not dare say in public—but things they truly mean). Having to be viewed as security threats when they travel internationally because of an act driven by extremist Islamic ideology appears to be the straw that has broken the camel's back.

But disowning Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab solves nothing. Deeply disapproving of his actions would be a better approach, or strongly dissociating oneself from his actions. He remains a Nigerian. Nigerians are not all good people. They are just like the rest of humanity, for saints, sinners, terrorists and peacekeepers dwell within the borders of Nigeria.

The worst terrorist action on United States soil before the 11th of September 2001 was committed, not by Islamic extremists, but by a Catholic-raised American citizen, who was born and bred within the United States—Timothy McVeigh. But then, Americans are also just like the rest of humanity.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Rebranding

I had originally written this to be published on NEXT, but my boss overruled for the time being it since the man has not yet been found guilty. That actually brings up the question no one seems to be asking yet. What if the Dutch are just looking for a way to discredit the Nigerians? The probability of that is low, but it is a probability nevertheless...

By the way, another question for my narrow minded friends. Now that a Southerner has done something, what next?

The last 24 hours have been rather eventful for Nigeria’s reputation in the eyes of the world. First we were added to a list of err, countries of interest to the United States security apparatus. The implication of this is that the next time I pass through any airport in the US, some little boy who probably did not finish school would have the authority to cop a feel of my big kahuna.

The reaction of Nigerians to that perceived insult was immediate. The Facebook groups formed to distance Nigerians from young Abdulmutallab in the eyes of the world swelled in numbers as Nigerians rushed in to distance themselves from one of their own. Earlier our beloved minister of information had attempted to shift the blame to our nice ‘bredas’ in Ghana, pointing out that the misguided young man spent only thirty minutes in Nigeria upon arrival from Ghana before he boarded that KLM flight. The memo that she did not read apparently is the one that states that if he was so disposed, he could have actually taken a motorcycle from the airport to as far as Surulere, collected the explosives there, and returned to the airport. All in less than thirty minutes. Of course at the airport no one would have asked him questions being that he is a 'bigman’s' son.

And therein lies the problem.

A few hours ago, another Nigerian ‘bigman’, Victor Okechukwu Agali was arrested while in transit at wait for it, Schipol Airport in Amsterdam. He was in possession of fake travel documents. How this skipped security at Lagos should boggle the imagination of any right thinking person, but being that this is Nigeria, it should not.

On more than one occasion, ‘bigmen’ in Nigeria have gotten away with murder simply because they are ‘bigmen’. Agali’s transit through our Customs was probably the easiest thing in the world. He would have simply done ‘New Year’ for the geezers at the gate, and then he would have been let through. No long thing.

But how do we solve this obviously embarrassing problem?

The uniformed services in Nigeria are notoriously underfunded, their staff underpaid, and what is worse regularly paid late. These guys no matter how you cut it have to put food on the table for their families. If someone is going to ‘dash’ them US$20 to avoid the inconvenience of a search, they would take the money and look the other way. When they have gone off duty, they would make a beeline to the nearest bureau de change, and have NGN3000 in their possession. Based on our ridiculously low national minimum wage, that is forty percent of a month’s wages for a minute’s work. Even a saint would fall to that temptation.

This message is for all of my friends on Facebook, and of course my able-bodied minister of information. No matter how much noise we make and how many other people we attempt to blame, as long as we do not get the basics right, a lot more embarrassment would be coming our way.

As for me, let me begin to mentally prepare myself for the indignity I would be subjected to later in the year.

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Seeing God in Anenih's face

After being blasted by the Moody Krab, it is time to quit neglecting this 'ere blog. This article appeared on 234NEXT a few days ago...

"If you ask me to draw God, because I have never seen God, by the time I finish it, you will probably find the face of Anenih in it; you find the hands of Anenih and you find the legs of Anenih. This is a man who has done so much for me. Everyday I pray to God to help me in my life, and once and every time Anenih comes and helps me. He made me a commissioner; made me a minister, made me a minister again, help me to build a house."

I watched with dismay a few days ago as a member of the Nigerian Senate from my home state sat in front of a camera and praised Mr. Tony Anenih. But truth be told, one cannot really blame Odion Ugbesia for the puppy-like affection that he showers on Mr. Anenih. Mr. Anenih to him is God, and therein lies one of the bigger issues that we face as a country today.

Most Nigerians live under the illusion that if we sort out the power problem, all the other problems in the country would accompany that and fall in line. I must admit, I used to be of that opinion, and I have voiced out those words on more than one occasion. I also used to believe that all of Nigeria's problems could be sorted out if a "tripod" - if you may - was taken care of. This tripod consisted of power, transportation and communications.

With the advent of the GSM revolution, the communications problem has more or less disappeared. As a matter of fact, because of that challenge which has been solved, Nigeria has a chance to lead the world in the area of mobile communications and mobile internet, but that is outside the scope of this article. With one leg of our tripod firmly on the ground, it is only logical to assume that if the other two are sorted, Nigeria's problems would be sorted.

There is no gainsaying that the moment our power supply is sorted out, there would be more incentives for entrepreneurs, foreign and domestic, to set up industries that are desperately needed to boost the country's capacity to fend for itself. If the transportation system is developed, then the goods produced by such industries and the services that naturally accompany them would move more freely around the country. This would automatically improve our internal trade, which would in turn provide employment for the mass of unemployed people roaming our streets. With all these in place, the elusive development would follow as naturally as day follows night.

But, are we putting the cart before the horse?

As of 1999, NITEL was the sole provider of communication services in Nigeria, and what was worse, proudly boasted that there were half a million phone lines in the country, and it would almost be impossible to double that number in 20 years. A decade later, the country has at least 70 times that number. What happened in between?

In that time, the playing field in communications was opened up to real competition, and the people, fed up of the rubbish that NITEL had been doing for yonks voted with their feet and went over to the competition. So why can't the other legs of Nigeria's developmental tripod be opened up to competition in the same way that communications was? The answer is vested interests.

It is no coincidence that our roads have deteriorated badly about the same time that air travel has become more popular (but not more affordable) among Nigerians. It is rumoured that government officials and/or people close to the government have interests in the major airlines in the country. It is also no coincidence that our power supply has worsened considerably during a period when our fuel supply has been "deregulated" twice, and people close to the government have reaped the benefits in terms of oil block concessions and favourable marketing deals. This beggars the question; who does the government serve?

On more than one occasion I have watched serving officials of governments in the United Kingdom and the United States take a stand against their colleagues in the government, and against their parties. This is because they would not dare to go against the will of the people, especially in an election year. If they are that silly, the people would walk to the polling booths and vote them out. In Nigeria, it is quite the opposite.

The people in Nigeria are not responsible for the positions of those in office, rather it is political godfathers. These "godfathers" have friends. These friends are the people who are responsible for the rundown state of infrastructure we have today. As long as that situation persists, we will have a scenario where people who are not accountable to the populace get into position, and as a result things will not change. There will be no improvement in transportation; there will be no improvement in power.

What Nigeria needs desperately is electoral reform.