Vanguard (Lagos)

Nigeria: The Many Relatives of Success

FOR brightening the dour face of Nigeria, for bringing joy to millions of Nigerians all over the world and raising their confidence level, the Super Eagles and their handlers deserve anything and everything that is being offered them.

They deserve houses and cars, deserve national and state honours, they deserve cash in millions. For the Moses, Yobos and Mikels of the team, ten million naira may not translate to much, but for the domestic league players and those yet to strike it hot abroad, there is need to manage their new found wealth.

However let it be emphasized here that it is not every Musa, Yinka or Emeka that can wake up and decide to "reward" the players. Those who are into marketing call it "ambush marketing". For someone who had nothing to do with the team in form of support or otherwise to now want to jump on the victory wagon for purposes of cheap and unmerited publicity it is simply unacceptable.

Yesterday I wrote about a ten million naira that has so far guaranteed an unlimited touch of the cup. A friend called to say "at all at all na him bad". This is different. Ten million naira does not pay the bonus of six players in a qualifying match. It is peanuts. The Super Eagles is a superior brand.

A small story. Last year, I was leading out the U-17 team to Niger for their first African qualifying match. While waiting at the Abuja airport, I saw a "sports loving governor" and approached him. I wanted him to say 'hi' to the boys, psyche them up and encourage them.

He did not respond. The aides also tried to draw his attention, in vain. Later the coaching crew of Manu, Ugbade and Amuneke national stars all, also tried to draw his attention.

When I discovered that he was considering us a nuisance, I asked them to leave him alone. That is the man that will soon signify his intention to host the Eagles for all the unmerited attention that will accrue to him. (I remember that Governor Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom later also passed though, met the boys, encouraged them to go to Niger and win, promising 10 million naira, which he has since redeemed)

South Africa was an ideal venue for the Nations Cup. In South Africa, sports is alive. In South Africa, Cricket, Rugby, Golf, Boxing and track and field fight football for dominance.

What happens here is an apology. The same people that are now flaunting millions are those in a position to invest in our sports, yet they don't, preferring ephemeral glory to the long term investment in and development of our youth.

The English League is a study in private business concerns and proof of the viability of the sports industry.

Chelsea, Man United, Arsenal...they are all run by individuals and organizations and they bring joy to us, millions of miles away, not to talk of the huge returns that are made as business investments. Here the reverse is the case.

Here our domestic league lies comatose and those in a position to lift it up are turning blind eyes. All other sports are dead in this country, yet those who have the wherewithal to revive them are not doing so.

I know I should commend organizations like Globacom, Guinness, Tom Tom, Peak Milk......for partnering with the NFF.

They deserve commendation for being part of this victory. Governors like Uduaghan and Fashola have always identified with sports while Imoke was the team's landlord en route South Africa.

I should thank Chief Adenuga for giving Keshi cars and a house. Thanks Sir, but let it be on record that those gifts are personal and not official!

The last time Globacom attempted to bail out this country by paying the salaries of a coach, the result was disaster. The argument I had then is still relevant today.

Coach Keshi cannot drive Chief Adenuga's cars and live in his house and be expected to be loyal to the NFF. It is not done. The NFF should as a matter of urgency fulfill its contractual terms with Keshi by providing him with a car and a house!

Ditto other coaches and staff.

While we are at it, NFF lawyers and Marketers should put their foot down and warn all those products and services that are using the name of the Super Eagles to sell their products and services. " soup wey sweet, na money kill am "

Back to the field. Tomorrow I will tell you about the raw eggs that were sacrificed on the field before our match against Mali.

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