From A Nation That Celebrates Victories and Successes, We Have Surrendered To Mediocrity
*This is the first of a 10-part message to President Muhammadu Buhari on the RISE AND FALL of Nigeria football and why Mr President must intervene now!
Once upon a time, the Nigeria national teams dominated Africa and gave the world a scare.
The Super Eagles were superb in victory and gallant in defeat. We do not only qualify for major championships, we go there to make a statement. The name Nigeria gave oppositions goose pimples. Many were scared, they really don’t want to be pitched against the then giants of Africa. .
Until 2013 sir, Nigeria was a force.
Nigeria won matches in style, celebrated victories with pump and pageantry. The continent was proud of our exploits as our stars won individual and National honours. That was the Nigeria that FIFA and CAF celebrated, the Nigeria that rose to number 5 on the FIFA Ranking and later dropped to 21.
For many years, Nigeria maintained a steady rise until 2014 and since 2014, Nigeria football teams have fallen from grace to grass and what we have now, are individual successes. Men have taken the place of Nigeria, they have used the platform to install themselves at the very top and have left our football struggling.
From nobody, they have risen to somebody, from influence, they have attained affluence, from millionaires in Naira, they have risen to billionaires in dollars. They have used our national wealth to enrich themselves, they have built empires on land and on water, they fly with private jets and sleep in 5-star hotels around the world.
They wine and dine with world leaders and lavish foreign currencies on teenage girls. They sit on players match bonuses and feed fat on players’ allowances. Yet they treat these players like paupers and watch them moan in hunger and pain.
They care less about what happens on the field of play. If Nigeria loses today, the next day, they are in a night club in London sipping from a falling pant. They are not interested in what happens to the players, (the gladiators of our football, who labour day and night to get things done).
They are more interested in inflating their egos, uplifting their image and eating with the gods.
They have destroyed our youth teams.
In the last seven years, we have struggled as a nation to produce a formidable youth team. A country that has won the Under-17 World Cup 5 times in the past, have struggled to qualify from the continent on two different occasions. A country that has played in the finals of the FIFA Under-20 World Cup twice before now, now finds it difficult to get to the quarterfinals of the global championship.
In eight years, we did not qualify for back-to-back Nations Cup and even when we managed to qualify, we struggled to a bronze medal in Egypt 2019 and a second round ouster in Cameroon 2021.
The transition from our youth teams to the Super Eagles no longer exists as there are no youth teams to pick from. Our Super stars no longer rank among the best on the continent. They hardly make it to the top 5 in CAF AWARDS because our football has fallen from grace to grass.
As a country, we cheat, yes we do. We field over aged players and present them to the world as teenagers. There are people out there whose duty it is to change the ages of footballers on their international passport. There are people out there who manipulate the compulsory MRI test results in Nigeria’s favour.
Daily, these men tell us stories that are sweet to the ears, they make billions from our football, build estates in their towns and villages and leave our footballers battling for survival.
As we speak, one of these men is building a house worth four Billion Naira in the Southern part of Nigeria.
There is so much to be said and in ten days, we will feed you with the secrets of Nigeria football.
Sir, our male and female youth teams no longer get match bonuses, their commitment to the national cause have reduced massively since the administrators decided to deny them of their right.
Players’ commitment level has continued to drop but who cares? They don’t care because all that matters to them is their personal ambition and their many estates. .
They have formed an unholy alliance with FIFA President, Gianni Infantino and CAF President, Motsepe, to threaten Nigeria. This is a clear case of treason. They threaten the country with a FIFA or CAF ban once we complain of their ruthless spending.
They come cap in hand to collect money from government and still have the boldness to accuse government of interference anytime they attempt to know how these money is spent.
They have pocketed every stubborn Nigerian journalist, they have begged the courts to put some of these journalists under checks by making them sign undertakings.
They have been accused of financial crimes, charged with misappropriation and misapplication of public funds. They have been dragged before the anti-graft agencies but somehow, they have come out smiling. Even when charges were made, cases are never taken to court.
They bully everyone to submission, they are out there boasting about everything. Their wealth, their influence, their connections and their positions but they have not given this country anything to celebrate in eight years.
The worst happened last week. Our Super Falcons that once dominated Africa after winning the Africa Women’s Nations Cup for a record nine times fell from grace to grass as they settled.for fourth position after losing to minnows like Morocco and Zambia.
As if that was not enough, the girls again painted Nigeria in bad light, as they protested over unpaid bonuses and allowances.
Mr President sir, this is how bad things have turned. It is so bad because everyone seem scared of them and anyone who dares them is labeled a blackmailer and is offered to the gods for slaughter.
Tomorrow, this writer will tell you how these men have decided to sit tight in office. Their tenure ends in September this year but they have vowed to stay put for another term in office. They claim that what you could not achieve they want to achieve. They desperately seek a third term in office and will go at any length to get this done.
Please, Nigerians seriously want you to intervene and the time to do so, is now.
God bless you Mr President. I hope this message gets to you at the right time and will be looking forward to your prompt action.