The Guardian
Email YouTube Facebook Instagram Twitter WhatsApp

Rio 2016 and other incredible Nigerian miracles


Nigerian athletes join dancers performing during a welcoming ceremony for Team Nigeria’s Olympic team at the Athletes’ Village. The Rio 2016 Olympic Games officially opened PHOTO: AFP

Nigerian athletes join dancers performing during a welcoming ceremony for Team Nigeria’s Olympic team at the Athletes’ Village. The Rio 2016 Olympic Games officially opened. PHOTO: AFP

I will be upfront with you. I was very much pessimistic about Nigeria’s prospects of winning a medal at Rio 2016. My reasons for such down feeling are not alien to many who followed the shoddy preparations Team Nigeria had; the harrowing personal experiences of team members, some of whom resorted to crowdfunding their tickets to Brazil and, of course, the rank of Team Nigeria’s sterling athletes had been depleted by defections.

I, however, gave Dream Team VI a chance of ‘performing miracles’. And, well, I was not exactly disappointed.

Exploits of the likes of Aruna Quadri and Chierika Ukogu filled me with renewed hope; hope that maybe, just maybe, Nigeria, will be miraculously gifted with sports administrators who will deem proper planning for sports meets like the Olympics an important venture.

Don’t blame me for being hopeful. I’m a Nigerian and our politicians have reduced us to hopeful people, utterly optimistic when all indices point to a worsening scenario. Still, we hope on. God dey is our national mantra, the United States of Nigeria. Miracle-dispensing churches and mosques have cashed in (literally) on the joke, and we, in turn, have become willing ATMs with an unending penchant for dropping money into the coffers of those who have held our minds hostage. To the Lord belongs the land and everything therein. And in Nigeria, politicians and ungodly religious leaders are the LORDS and we are the serfs tilling the land for bounteous harvests.

I reckon we can only become changed, truly born again, only if we have a truly United States of Nigeria.

Before you accuse me of changing the name of our darling country, you can direct you misgivings towards You-Know-Who who rechristened the country with a forgivable slip (but the Nigerian social media did not think so).

Anyway, the name is indicative of two things: one can be helped, the other is symbolic of our proclivity for anything foreign.

Everyone is susceptible to making mistakes. It is part of the human DNA. Someone told me that is essentially what makes us human and not God. So for You-Know-Who to inadvertently rename the country USN is forgivable, as I mentioned earlier. But does his mistake not symbolise our propensity to ape foreign ideas?

We copy whatever catches our fancy, regardless of whether that thing adds unto us positive values or not. If Americans can, we too can.

Unfortunately, we do not ape what really matters. Our democracy is still largely a toy in the hands of a select few who constantly choose to play the puppeteers, pulling the strings while having hearty laughs over pots of pepper soup and imported champagne. Mind you, they are not inclined to discuss copying the strong models of democracy in the US or the UK. That would be injurious to the wellness of their pockets. But then, they will hide under the veneer of dissident political opinions to create illusions of disunity among them.

Such is the bastardisation of the system that thinking of producing star athletes in the moulds of all-conquering Simone Biles, Elaine Thompson or Usain Bolt is actually unthinkable. No, not that the country does not have the human quality to do so, our genes are not just tuned to do the right thing. At least, not yet. It will continue to be so until when the Nigeria Football Federation and sports ministry realise that sportsmen and sportswomen they are responsible for are deserving of the utmost care and protection; until political office holders do their job the right way.

Until then, we can only hope for a miracle to happen.

In this article:
Rio 2016
Receive News Alerts on Whatsapp: +2348136370421

1 Comment
  • Naijaman