Football ‘opium of Nigerian politicians’

From TheNewspad team

Football all over the world is one sport that competes with religion. It has brought fame and fortune for those in and around its practice, and at the same time brought joy and misery to those who follow it.

In Nigeria football is the most popular sport, though its organisation in the Country is no where near world standards. It is one the sports that breaks boundaries in a nation massively polarised along tribal and religious inclinations.

So, Nigerian politicians knowing it is a unifying factor have keyed into it to launder their image and also to influence social trends.

A case in point is the 34th recent African Cup of Nations held in Cote d’Ivoire. Nigeria’s Super Eagles, against all odds, played their way to the final and this was the tonic Nigerian politicians need to serve to their citizens who have put under severe social/ economical pressure.

Indeed Nigerians forgot about the hardship facing them and reveled in the progress made by the Super Eagles and while the AFCON lasted and the team was doing well, there was zero attention to economic melt down of the Country.

Abidjan became a Mecca of sorts to political office holders and even those in the opposition were not left out the jamboree.

The curtains eventually, fell on the AFCON tournament and the Super Eagles’ return home with a silver medal having lost 2-1 to the Cote d’Ivoire Elephants.

President Bola Tinubu opened the vaults of the Aso Rock Presidential fortress and showered the Super Eagles with cash, national awards and landed property.

This followed a similar pattern of rewarding the Super Eagles and other football teams each time they succeeded in tournament they participated, much to the chagrin of other sports practitioners and others outside sports.

Soldiers fighting against terrorists in the northeastern part of the country could hide their disdain for such generous awards to the Super Eagles, especially when they failed to lift the AFCON trophy as was being expected by Nigerians.

The soldiers lamented that they haven’t been rewarded or even recognised in their effort to keep the Country safe.
“Football is all that matters to the Nigerian government,” said athletics coach Isaac Osagie Ikhabome.
“There are other sports and youthful endeavors that also bring honor to the country, but often those who have achieved success are not adequately rewarded or even recognised at all.

“The government need to encourage other sports and noble adventures by other youths, so that more young people would aspire to do the Country and themselves great.”

Sports generally in Nigeria is in need of fixing, rather than develop it for a wider beneficial participation, politicians and policy makers are only interested in the quick success that will bring accolades.

“In global sports’ contest, football only brings one medal, whereas in other sports one individual can bring as much as seven medals,” said Nigerian Olympian and pioneer Taekwondo practitioner, Emmanuel Peters Oghenejobo.

“For me, I am not happy with sports administrators and politicians at the national level. “They are one sided in their thinking. What they give one footballer for winning one medal is enough for a whole combat sport team and yet they don’t care about them.

“Taekwondo for example, will compete for 16 Gold medals as against Football that is only one. This is not fair at all to other youths outside football.”
Nigerian athletes are currently preparing to participate in the African Games starting March 8 in Ghana.

Reports in the media stated that the government is yet to release funds for Team Nigeria’s upkeep during the three weeks of competition.

“But President Tinubu released N2 billion for the Super Eagles before the AFCON. This was to aid their preparations and also clear every outstanding allowance owed them,” said a national athlete in camp for the African Games.

“This is not the same with other sports, as we are talking athletes are in camp training for the African Games, they cannot eat decent meals.

Nigeria’s sports Ministry officials said we have to manage since government has not made funds available.

“Is this how they treated the Super Eagles when they where preparing for the AFCON? Are Nigerians going there to represent ourselves or Nigeria?”

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