Oshoala: African queen despite betrayal
It is curious and quite incredible that Asisat Lamina Oshoala’s kinsmen did not vote for her during the 2019 CAF Awards ceremony, held on January 7 in Egypt. However, other Africans voted for Oshoala and she emerged as the Best Female Footballer of the Year in Africa.
Oshoala was voted for and rated the best by non-Nigerians and international football federations. The star girl credited for her ingenuity on the pitch, beat Ajara Nchout of Cameroun and South Africa’s Thembi Kgatlana to emerge the Best African Female Footballer of the Year.
Oshoala had actually won the African Female Footballer of the Year three times. So, this outing made it the fourth time Oshoala, the 25 year old, who plays for the Spanish side Barcelona, was crowned the best African Female Footballer, having won the award in 2014, 2016 and 2017. So, it is monumental.
Also, she was among the final three in 2018, but lost to her South African rival Thembi Kgatlana. This fourth win made the Super Falcons striker equal the record of Perpetua Nkwocha, who won the prizes in 2004, 2005, 2010 and 2011. As such, Oshoala is one of Nigerian’s ambassadors in women football.
So, how did Oshoala emerge as this year’s winner of 2019 CAF Best African Female Footballer of the Year? At this juncture, it is important to unbundle how CAF winners are chosen. They are chosen by members of the Technical and Development Committee, journalists, football legends, coaches, and representatives and captains of national teams of football federations. This year, five Nigerians were part of the final decision process in the women’s category – Ahmed Yusuf (aka Fresh), Osasu Obayiuwana, Chisom Mbonu, Tunde Adelakun and Perpetua Nkwocha.
Due to CAF’s transparency, the pattern of vote was revealed. According to media reports, none of the five Nigerians present at the awards ceremony voted for Oshoala. Ahmed Fresh did not vote at all because he did not receive the voting papers from CAF; while Osasu Obayiuwana rated Oshoala third in Africa; Chisom Mbonu, second; Tunde Adelakun, second; and Perpetua Nkwocha fifth. This is a shame to Nigeria! Anyway, a prophet is always without honour in his country.
So, how can we have a united Nigeria, when only non-Nigerians voted her fit for the award? Is this a case of ‘‘fighting’’ ourselves internally and externally, ‘‘betrayal,’’ ‘‘gang-up against,’’ ‘‘intrigue and mischief,’’ ‘‘envy’’ or mental deficiency in appreciating our own? Could this explain why we do not have Nigerians holding strategic positions in continental and regional sports and diplomatic bodies?
Although, sports matters are controversial, Nigerians eligible to vote at the event should have recognised that it is about sports diplomacy and branding. Furthermore, while there may be arguments that Oshoala had not performed well for the year under review; other Africans did not perform better than her within the same period.
Furthermore, there is a position that the Nigerians present at the event were representing CAF. Hence, it is important to point out and it should be recognised that they are Nigerian representatives on CAF. In addition, Nigeria groomed them and gave them the platform with which they launched into the international scene. Therefore, the ‘‘integrity’’ argument does not downplay these obvious facts, because in real world politics, primordial sentiments take precedence and that is the naked truth.
In the main, this is unfortunate because it is obvious that patriotism is a missing ‘‘ingredient’’ in the soup of some citizens, not only within the country but also at international scene. Perhaps, it is in our DNA. Sometime in the past a former head of state was said to have voted against a Nigerian candidate for a continental position. The Nigerian leader then curiously voted for a Nigerien who won. When are patriots going to arise for the most populous black nation on earth at the international scene?
Meanwhile, while CAF’s openness is commendable, this newspaper demands an investigation into why those who earn from Nigeria ‘‘betrayed’’ her. This is imperative in that the five Nigerians, who were part of the final decision, may be seen to have brought absolute disgrace to the country as disclosed by CAF.
For ‘‘our own dear native land’’ to stand ‘‘in brotherhood,’’ there is the need for us to have some introspection on patriotism before taking decisions, particularly at the international scene. It is the way we carry ourselves that the world will carry us.
As for Citizen Oshoala, her 2019 CAF awards was earned, not given. It came on the basis of her impressive performance in the high estimation of non-Nigerians, which makes it more convincing and credible. They found her worthy of the honour. The non-Nigerians present at 2019 CAF Awards, dethroned mediocrity and enthroned meritocracy; making the rejected stone by Nigerian builders, the capstone in Africa. So, Oshoala, keep the Nigerian flag flying high; because hard work and excellence cannot be thrown into the dustbin.
Generally on sports in Nigeria, privatisation may help our mental deficiency because ‘‘over feeding’’ of sports men and women, have made them not to realise the place of national interest, which any reasonable human being who earns a living from the national purse should put first.
Finally, the lesson from 2019 CAF awards is that we need national re-orientation to understand deeply that we all need to love the country and the people. We need to be sympathetic to the needs of the nation. We have a responsibility to serve the country at all times as we have pledged. We all need to make sacrifices for the nation. We should at all times take pride in our origin and work for the good of the country. Finally, we must support and defend the country’s interest with all our strength and we should be proud of our country. It is a good country. It is uniquely so. It is the most populous black nation on earth. We don’t need outsiders to enhance the country’s brand reputation.