The first installment of the above article published on page 12 of The LEADER Newspaper of Sunday, August 8, 2021 was well received by readers. Indeed, many have telephoned to congratulate me on the article for which they have shown much appreciation.
In this second installment, I write on the lessons to be learnt from the first article. When then Fr. Edmund Fitzgibbon assembled a football team to represent Calabar in the Nigeria Challenge Cup of 1954, he was motivated by efficiency to provide the best team for Calabar. He did not restrict his choice of players to people of Efik ethnic group alone. Indeed, of the 8 (Eight) students of St. Patrick’s College, Ikot Ansa, Calabar (SPACO) who played in the team, 6 (Six) were Ndi Igbo ( Igbo speaking people ). They were 1. Emmanuel Okoro from Afikpo, Ebonyi State; 2. Timothy Nwogu from Emii, Imo State; 3. Hamilton Iheanacho from Ngwa, Abia State; 4. Hubert Ejoor from Onitsha, Anambra State; 5. Brendan John Ogbuehi from Irette, Imo State; 6. Alexius Ike, from Onicha, Ezinihite Mbaise, Imo State. Other Igbo members of the team were 1. Cyril Nwaezeji, 2. David Akalihu, a butcher, 3.Godwin Egbeibe. Thus there were a total of 9(nine) Igbo players in the team of 11.
Fr. Fitzgibbon’s objective was to win the match. To achieve this was possible only if he fielded the best team. And that was what he did. Had he made it an Efik team alone, the Calabar team of 1954 may have ended up NOT winning the Nigerian Challenge Cup of 1954.
It is interesting to note that in the last Tokyo Olympic games, 5 Nigerians won gold, silver and bronze medals for 5 different countries other than Nigeria. These were people that would have increased the medals won by Nigeria by that number. By the same token, the position of Nigeria in the Olympic record would have improved had these 5 athletes represented Nigeia. And it raises the question, why did they not compete in the name of Nigeria? The answer is simple and clear. Many Nigerians wish that they are not born into Nigeria because the country called Nigeria that is endowed with good weather and lavish natural resources, that is not visited by natural disaster, is not a comfortable abode because of bad governance, absence of democracy and denial of fundamental human rights, where double standards prevail, which accounts for why Nigerians migrate to other countries where they prosper and triumph, which they represent and for which they win accolades that should have accrued to Nigeria. It is a shame that should challenge those that govern Nigeria to repent, change for the better, love Nigeria, and make Nigeria loveable by Nigerians.
What is very interesting to note is that other countries attract their nationals abroad to return home to reinforce their teams to win accolades for their country. Such nationals, buoyed by the appreciation of their countries, return home with pleasure to reinforce their home teams with enthusiasm and win laurels for their country that could not be bothered about the part of the country from which the talents come.
The lesson to learn from the above analysis by Nigeria is that everywhere, particularly in the political arena, we should ensure that we field our best materials to represent us at Federal, State and Local government level. If we do so, our country shall prosper beyond the power of words to express. Therefore, learning from the football experience given above, let our political parties field the best materials to contest all political positions so that only the best among our best shall emerge to hold such positions as President, Governor, Senator, Members of House of Representative etc. Should we be able to do this, our country will grow into a model one and our people will rejoice and feel proud to be Nigerians. So, help us God.
Emmanuel A. C. Orji,
Senior Citizen, wrote from Orji, Urata, Owerri North, Imo State. Phone: 08034447729