Former Nigeria captain Segun Odegbami, in this piece from Russia where he is covering the World Cup, preaches for peace and unity in his country and backs Amaju Pinnick to continue as Nigeria Football Federation President…
It’s been a lonely morning. Last night was horrible with the pictures from the carnages in Jos and in Lagos to remind me of the parlous and fragile state of Nigeria.
The drums of crisis beat loudly everywhere and the seeming inability to come up with clear solutions to the challenges are evident in the answers from government. It is shocking to find and follow the shallow conversations going in even amongst the supposedly most sophisticated people in Nigeria. They do not seem to understand the diffrent dynamics of the different parts of the country.
We must shelve arrogance in prescribing a one-solution-fits-all answer to some of our seemingly intractable problems. There are always more than one road that leads to Rome.
We must allow fresh thinking into the issues. Simpler solutions could be in the pocket of our sokoto whilst we are groping blindly in Sokoto.
My heart bleeds because as I sang the national anthem of Nigeria during the recent matches in Russia I sang them from the deepest part of my being, loving my country deeply and seeing visions of how we can make it truly great if only we could respect and bury our natural differences, promote our strengths and the beautiful things that nature has offered us to become a great people in the world, learn how to be united from the simple example of our footballers who come from every tongue and tribe to represent us, and to face the world as one people in the emerging battle of civilisations to which we are yet to open our first page.
Meanwhile, I am still here in Russia, and there are still a few persons around – staff of the NFF sorting out their final accounts and seeing off their last set of guests.
Yes, there are still some guests. Apparently some people actually had faith that the Eagles would go past the first round and booked their return flights for after the start of the second round. They are stuck here unable to change their flights because flights are full in and out of Russia during this period. One million visitors have descended on this country and have discovered that Russia is far from the distorted negative picture always painted by western media.
It is a great and developed country and the cities look and feel like any one of several western cities. The people go out of their way to be friendly even though communicating in English poses a slight challenge. I bet that after this World Cup many more Russians will register to know how to speak the English language and many more people will make the place another tourist destination of choice.
But for language barrier we could have made many more friends otherwise. This place, however, is not necessarily Black person friendly.
You can feel the tension anytime you walk into a place. One thing I have not mentioned is the Nigerian football supporters. I have not encountered them here at all. I have been regaled with incredible stories about their experiences here.
I hear a movie must come out of some of those experiences.
I can’t wait to meet with Dr. Rafiu Ladipo to get the full gist.
Amaju Pinnick is riding high on the crest of achievements in the politics of African and world football. He must be supported and guided to learn faster and deliver more to Nigerian football.
The ‘bring him down’ syndrome must not be allowed to fester in Nigerian football anymore.
The discussion about his anticipated role and/or place in Nigerian football into the immediate future must be discussed and agreed with him in an amicable round table of conversation, so that we do not allow what is developing in the politics of Nigerian football and the elections into the board of the NFF to destroy the little progress we have made in recent years particularly through Amaju’s ascension in world football politics and administration.
The constitution of the NFF must be quickly looked into again to remove all the built-in clauses that hold back meritocracy in selection of leaders and credibility in the process of such election. I volunteer to be a part of that reform without any ambition beyond that.
Permit me to enjoy the rest of my lonely stay here. I am surely missing home. I can’t wait to get back.
By the way, for the first time since I have been visiting western countries I saw two restaurants in this city serviced by noise-making small generators.