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Nigeria; A Team Gone Wrong

By Che Oyinatumba
 Published November 22nd, 2008



If Nigeria were a Premiership club side, I wonder which club it will be. Obviously Bolton Wonderers won’t like any analogy. Since I am not a fan of any Premiership club, I am rudderless on the Creeks of Niger Delta as to which woeful club to compare Nigeria to. What is not debatable among sports lovers is that the quality of your bench determines the success of the club. And the bedrock of any bench is the coach who makes the deft changes at a crucial time and not the money bag who buys off players like a race horse without understanding the game plan of the coach.

President Umar Yar’Adua like a good coach we thought he was, (he declared his assets, is the first graduate president of Nigeria ) sacked 20 ministers with a promise of injecting new blood into his lack lustre cabinet. We waited like a pilgrim only to get to the holy land and discover that the custodians of our are not so enthusiastic about our object of worship. The list of would be ministers have been sent to the Senate and the quality of people substituted for the dismissed 20 ministers, shows that President Yar’Adua is not ready to win this game against underdevelopment and be a champion in 2020.

The most ridiculous of his last minute change, is 70 year old Dr. Rilwan Lukman from Kaduna state. This old warhorse is a spent force in the corridors of power. His inclusion is like playing Taribo West against Mikel Obi. The world, especially the crude oil world have changed and what Nigeria needs is a dynamic young well educated Nigerian to combat the oil cabals in the global market. Can Lukman at 70 survive the ever changing information technology wave length that in a split a country can be reduced to the bottom of the OPEC if her minister fails to grasp the supper sonic change? The inclusion of Dr. Lukman is an indictment on the younger generation of Nigerians and a show of failure of Lukman to produce a successor either biologically or politically to carry on whatever good work he feels he can still contribute to the development of Nigeria .

For those asking when Nigeria ’s Obama will arise, the inclusion of ex-governors is a seal on the unprogressiveness of this administration. Sam Egwu, Achike Udenwa former governors of Eboyin and Imo respectively, lorded over three senatorial zones and in the case of Imo, 27 Local Government Areas. For these two to be hungry for a ministerial appointment, shows that there is something chronically wrong with our leaders. Their inclusion should be likened to asking JJ Okocha to play YUSFON. He will be a burden to any coach as he has played at the zenith of the game. Will these ex-governors be willing to take instructions from a Perm Sec or from Mr. President having been his colleague during the Obasanjo era? They are too big for the shoe of a minister. In these states where these ex-governors are crawling out from, has there been no emergence of able young hands during the 8 years these ex-governors held sway? Where are those young PA and SA that were loyal to these governors? Can’t the ex-governors step aside for their young political sons to take up the ministerial appointments? With this domineering attitude of the older generation, tell me how a Nigerian Obama will emerge. More also, these ex-governors, a good number of them that is, were colossal failures in their states. Didn’t Nuhu Ribadu the then EFCC terror labelled over 32 governors as corruptly beyond redemption while the other 4 are marginally corrupt? Abeg Gov. Saraki what is Kwara State House of Assembly Speaker’s name doing in the ministerial list? Every politician mouths grass root development yet we all want appointment in Abuja .

Once in a while, this administration shows flukes of intelligence but on the overall rating, she is not performing like a winning team. After close to two years in office, this administration has not gotten her foot soldiers to implement her policies. It is a shame in a country of over 150 million cerebrally endowed man/woman power, we are recycling worn out leaders, who ought to be on retirement, writing their memoir as a road map for the younger generation.

The only ray of hope in the new line up of ministers is Prof. Dora Akunyili the iron lady of NAFDAC. This Amazon has proved her worth and anytime the history of Nigeria will be written by honest scholars, she will have a place of pride, if not close to Queen Amina of Zaria , then close to Fumilayo Kuti and other Amazons of this great country. Despite her inclusion in the team, I dare say, she cannot make a difference to the dying Yar’Adua’s team. I wish she will turn down this appointment. I fear for her as this appointment may tarnish her reputation. It also adds weight to what late Lamidi Adidibu, the Ibadan strongman said in Magistrate Court Zone 6 Abuja about her unrefined vindictive attitude and hunger for power. A Messi in the team made up of Peter Rufia, Andrew Uwe and Philip Osondu cannot perform. These great Nigerian players have gone beyond their prime and were once the toast of any coach. Their time is over like some of these people being appointed minister. The dead wood appointees should learn from these great players and start a leadership training institute or NGO. Dora will be like a needle in a sack of hay No man claps with one hand.

These latest substitutions show that he has no idea that Nigeria has become a laughing stock in the global village where 30-50 year old viral young generation are the turning wheel of industrialisation and development.

For those who think I am impatient, try and remember that the man behind the miracle called Barak Obama’s victory, is a below 45 young man named David Plouffe, the Obama ‘08 campaign manager.



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