Super Eagle’s Triumph Symbolizes the Promise of Nigeria – Dr. Emmanuel C. Alozie

February 13, 2013

Since her founding, the union we call Nigeria has been a divided house.

The nation’s division stems from the ethnic, religious, political and economic differences. Corruption, avarice, and opportunistic leaders who inflame the public contribute to the chronic division that has plagued and continues to plague the country. The impact of Nigerian disharmony has been shattering: thousands have been killed and continue to be killed. Nigeria fought a war and over a million died.

The scars of that war remain. The nation suffers from economic malaise.

Nigerian politics and democracy remains the laughing stock of the world. Elections are rigged. Administrations rule with impunity at the expense of the masses. Nigerians lack a sense of belonging, nationalism and nationhood and patriotism remains non-existent. Violence and terrorism are rampant.

Despite these intractable gulfs and socioeconomic challenges that dominate every sphere of Nigerian life, the Nigerian promise comes to light whenever one of our sport teams—more  especially—one of the national soccer sides—takes the field during international campaigns. We unite to cheer them. If a team is doing well as the Super Eagles exhibited in South Africa, we eschew our divisions and forgo our economic hardship to root for the team from our homes and streets—one of the few occasions when we exhibit our patriotism. Whether we are listening on radio in Kano, on television in Port Harcourt, reading a newspaper in Enugu or surfacing the Internet in Lagos, Nigerians become one and cheer as patriots. We do not cheer as Ijaws, Tivs, Urhobos, Muslims, Christians or adherents to traditional faiths—we cheer as an entity. The Nigerian multitude turned into a trinity of one.

Like Nigeria in 1980, Tunisia in 1994, Atlanta, USA, in 1996, and South Africa in 2013, where our national teams ended up as champion—their feats engender euphoria. It unites us briefly and we become proud to be Nigerian. Our lagging patriotism arises, and for a moment our per hopes and the promise of Nigeria move from being wishful thinking, to becoming possibilities As was the case last Sunday after the Super Eagles won African Cup of Nations (AFCON), Nigerians celebrated abundantly and continue to celebrate, I paused to reflect. As I reflected, I came with some questions. Let me pose them to every Nigerian: How long will the celebrations last?  Can the victory help to transform the country?  Can Nigeria run the course of champion? Can we revive our nation?

I wish, however, I realize that I can only be wishful if I consider our past, but I am a hopeful person. I wish that the dream of the Nigerian promise remains a possibility, but I do not blame those are skeptical. That wish could only come true if we relish the success of the Super Eagles, and we keep in mind how and why the boys made us African champions for a third time. Their success is a testament to the Nigerian promise—a promise that can only be achieved through unity, hard work, team work for one another as Stephen Keshi and his mixture of the 23-member team made up of foreign and locally based displayed. Did you see how other players rallied behind a despondent Mikel Obi when he missed a penalty kick in the game against Zambia or how Mikel Obi appealed to other players to allow Victor Moses to take penalty during the march against Ethiopia?

Sports have a way of way uniting people. Some have pointed out the world gets more peaceful during international sports events. If Nigerians can clone and extend the spirit that grips us when our boys or girls take field during international campaigns and emulate work of our wining crews in African Cup of Nations (Nigeria, 1980; Tunisia, 1994 and South Africa, 2013) as well as the Summer Olympic Games (Atlanta, USA, 1996) in other spheres of life, this country of 160 million, the second largest economy in Africa has the potential to become a promise land of the future. We can only do so if we eschew division, ethnicity, jealousy, greed, bitterness, and shun those leaders who massed wealthy illegally and those who inflame the masses for their personal benefits at the expense of corporate Nigeria. Our sports and men employ these values when engage in competition. If they are to succeed in future tournaments, they must maintain these values. So should Nigeria masses if we are to overcome political malaise and economic stagnation Nigerians.

Powered by Interchanges