By Tope Fasua
I am livid with rage writing this. I had started drafting and then deleted to do more research. I have toned down the language of this one, so you can imagine what i first wrote. Northern leaders – in every ramification – are a monumental disappointment and a great part of Nigeria’s problems. Yes, they are not everything. Everyone has faults, but Northern leaders – religious, political and others – wow! What a legacy of wickedness and disappointment. You see, it is beyond frustrating for those of us who defend the entity called Nigeria. None of the secessionists should celebrate yet though, because i believe if we were more intelligent, we will bring everyone to heel and see Nigeria make progress. Breaking her up is not necessarily a solution – if it was easily possible (which is not the case).
First, let me say Nigeria herself is a bag of paradoxes. Those who say they love her, despise her. Those who say they hate her are madly in love with her. Go figure.
Or how do you explain the fact that in the ongoing Olympics, no youth from northern Nigeria has been groomed to represent Nigeria? Our basketball team (male and female) is made up of mostly American-Igbos, who thankfully have ignored the harassment from some of the secessionists and donned the Nigerian green and white suit. Whether it benefits their career or not is a different ballgame. We would have had nobody to put forward but for these patriots.
You see, Olympics is war by other (softer) means. But Nigeria – under these colorless leaders and elites – has failed to excel in anything. Economics, tourism, development, science, the arts, sports, nothing! Countries go to great lengths to stand out in sports. We can see the usual fierce competition between USA, Russia and China in some of these meets. You could correlate performance in sports with military and economic might. Alas, Nigeria is now a land of shame. We are having less and less things to be proud of. May we not be left as a country only known for corruption, mismanagement, internet fraud, drug trafficking, prostitution, and other such ignominy. Something must shift. Again, secessionists should not run to the streets because of this. What is evident, is that we are all underachieving. Yes, northern leaders and elites are a major part of our problem but they are not everything. Southern leaders too have been unimaginative, greedy, short-sighted, prefering to spirit money abroad than dig in to build their abodes.
But Northern leaders take the cake. They have deprived their young majority opportunity in education, in trade, in sports, in the economy. They confuse a few with political positions and appointments. They only focus on their own children whom they give the best of everything – that usually goes unappreciated anyway. For the remaining multitude, they buy wheel barrows, okada, keke napep, get them married en masse, buy them sallah gifts and send the occasional lucky ones to hajj. On some occasions, they also sponsor a few connected ones for very expensive scholarship to foreign universities, perhaps to show that the north has intelligent people – when we know there are intelligent people from everywhere if only they are groomed early. These are monies that would be better spent taking those many millions of children off the streets and ensuring they stay off! This is wickedness. This is terrible. This is bad. This is myopic. I have just rewatched Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, when he warned northern leaders against this terrible attitude during his reign as Emir. No change.
How can we justify the fact that no youth from the north is in the 60-strong Nigerian contingent to the Tokyo Olympics. Well, our football team did not qualify. But if they did, we know the demographics of those who play for us. We have NOBODY in boxing, a sport where we used to get a few medals! Is it that Nigerians have become so undernourished that we can no longer find just one strong young person? What has happened to Rowe Park in Yaba, Lagos? Is there nowhere in the vast north and south of Nigeria where we can find talented and spirited boxers? Most of the atheletes we have in Tokyo today are based abroad anyway. I watched several boxing matches today. I saw Algeria, Cote D’Ivoire, Egypt, South Africa and other African nations represented but no Nigerian.
But my concern is not about our depressing and dwindling showing in these olympics – which will most likely result in a medal drought except we are lucky to have one self-driven athlete like Okagbare clinch one for us. Indeed Nigeria has fallen, especially under the uninspiring leadership of the man there who fought tooth and nail for 12 years to get there only to hit the ground like a wet towel. However, we cannot blame him alone.
I attended an Army secondary school and that means since a young age, i met young Nigerians from all over the country. Our long distance runners were usually from the north – Jos area, Borno, and so on. These lanky guys had the physiques of the Kenyasns and Ethiopians. That we sit here in every marathon, and wait for Ethiopians and Kenyans to come and make mincemeat of us, is because of our listless northern leaders, who are not developing the innate capabilities and talents of these young, innocent ones but would rather intimidate them with religion and lately, tribalism. I always make clear distinction between the elites and the masses of the north. The common man is NOT the problem. I go to the market sometimes and see how they interact with love with other peoples. But the leaders and elites! Different ballgame.
I was in Kano some weeks back and saw so many well-organised football matches, with players donning complete jerseys, in so many places. I stopped and viewed a few and the talent on display was something else. In my head i was like ‘this is where Ahmed Musa grew up indeed’. But who is helping these guys attain more than they are attaining? 19 states in the north and even if we excuse Borno and a few under security crisis, what about the rest? No footballer, no basketballer, no volleyballer, no long distance runner, no boxer, no swimmer, nobody. No talent! I think this is not because the young lads have no talent. It is because the leaders have none. And they also have no intuition to know just how important these games are. Many administrators in Nigeria believe that sports money is for ‘whacking’. Athletes have had to go and prostrate before they could get their allowances, and many of them who have a bit of self-respect simply just feed themselves, take care of themselves and when the time is done, they slunk back to their bases abroad. Sports is one area that shows clearly that Nigeria has fallen. But Nigeria can rise again if we have an inspired leader and support from intelligent elites who must somehow form an elite consensus.. not these underwhelming ones who only understand how to destroy than to build and cannot find any sense of urgency even if their lives depended on it. This is for north and south leaders, but the northern ones eh!
I was in Lagos last week and the numbers of okada riders from the north, from up to Chad and Niger could be in the millions. These guys use passengers to learn riding. They have no value for their own lives so to hell with any unfortunate rider. Many have died.
And this is the legacy that northern leaders are donating to the south – poor youths whose futures were deliberately truncated with the almajirai system! No other muslim country practices such despicable business. And please look at the Olympics… many fully muslim countries are there, excelling in every sport. I think the northern elites took their eyes off development contrary to the expectations of Ahmadu Bello and Tafawa Balewa, and have only been concerned with grabbing resources from the centre, feathering their own nests, and financing only things that promote the status quo – a status of mediocrity, underachievement and backwardness. I ask those ones who are governors; why did you contest when you know you had no solutions to these problems?For fame? Power? Money? Healthcare? Pension? Bribes? For what exactly?
It is just so very annoying and unacceptable. Enough already! This country must make progress. Young northerners should note that their elites are really deliberately depriving them and selling them ruses. Their colleagues all over the world have since passed them by. Anchoring the raw energy of the youths, through sports should not be rocket science. This can only be a mixture of wickedness and acute myopia. This is how the north has landed Nigeria in bigger trouble than we deserve.
See the names of the contingent below. Aisha Mohammed who reps Nigeria in basketball i checked. Could be from the north but was born in Lagos and presently lives in the USA. Aruna is from Oyo. Adijat is also from somewhere in south west Nigeria. Where is the love for Nigeria that northern leaders are preaching about? Instead of a 60-strong contingent, we should be sending 300 damnit! This is just frustrating.
Well, i write in the hope that something may change. Bombaclat!
A complete list of all the 60 Athletes representing number at TOKYO 2020/1
17.Nse Imaobong Uko
- Annette Echikunwoke
21.Juwon Anuoluwapo 0peyori
22.Dorcas Ajoke Adesokan
45.Nnenna Amy Okonkwo
47.Emmanuel Ayomide Bello
54.Oluchi Elizabeth Anyanacho
- Uche Eke
Tope Fasua was Presidential candidate of ANRP in the 2019 presidential election