Dec 5, 2009
Nigerians have often joked that God is a compatriot. The Super Eagles qualification to South Africa 2010 despite the seeming hopeless state of the events, has given this joke some meaning. The relevant question now is where we go from here.
After USA 94, Nigeria was rated as a nation with the capacity to win the World Cup. Fifteen years after USA 94, we appeared to have only drifted farther away from this possibility. In France 98, we carried a team that was obviously too fragile to the tournament despite the collection of big names in the team. We were disgraced out of the tournament by Denmark who beat us by 5 goals to 1. The story was the same in Japan/Korea 2002. Four years after that we failed to even qualify for the World Cup in Germany by loosing the window to Angola. Earnest observers agree that our failure to repeat the superlative performance of USA 94 was a result of bad administration.
Crucial to the success of any football team is a good coach. Though we have been able to qualify this time around, we know that it was a result of a miracle. In my opinion, Shuabu Amodu isn’t the coach that can take us to the world cup and come back with a reasonably good result. We should not go to the world cup for the sake of just showing our faces but to do something impressive thereby refusing to throw away the potential that we are known to have.
We need a better coach and there isn’t time to waste looking for a coach that will spend some months studying Nigerian players to see who is suitable and who isn’t. It is also pertinent to note that not all world class coaches can fit into the Nigerian environment in view of its peculiarity. We have seen the Milotinovic and the Vogts who have failed on the Nigerian soil despite their impeccable international background.
With little time on our hands we need to go for a coach that has been tested in Nigeria and proven that he can handle the Nigerian situation. Dutch Clemens Westerhorf is the most successful man ever to answer the name of a coach in Nigeria. During his time as Coach of the Super Eagles of Nigeria, we won the Nations Cup after having a test of it only once in 1980. We also went to the World Cup for the first time and performed so wonderfully that Nigeria’s potential to win the world cup was noted. Nigeria went to the fourth position on FIFA’s ranking, the highest ever. Our subsequent World Cup qualifications were based on the strength of the boys he discovered.
He is the only man who discovered talents locally and got them to play in the Super Eagles without necessarily playing in Europe first. People like Friday Elaho are typical examples of guys who made their impression in the Super Eagles alongside Europe based professionals without first playing in Europe. Westerhorf had the time to travel across the country in search of talents. The achievements of Westerhorf in Nigeria were made possible by players who played in lower leagues. Thus the argument that we do not have enough players in big clubs now is not relevant as the players are more exposed than they were before USA 94
One big trouble with foreign coaches is that they find it difficult to stay in Nigeria to do a Nigerian job. Berti Vogts chose to stay in Europe to do a job in Africa. Westerhorf on the other hand stayed in Nigeria full time, sometimes with members of his family. He never really left Nigeria even after parting ways with the Nigerian football authorities. Wherever he went, he eventually came back to Nigeria. Presently he is staying in Nigeria and has practically become a Nigerian. Thus he is the only world class coach who has been tracking Nigerian players. Employing Westerhorf to coach the Eagles will only amount to employing a local coach with a world class status.
Westerhorf is said to have openly expressed his willingness to coach the Super Eagles in order to rewrite history with the team. But since he is one who cannot compromise his conditions for a good job, he has fallen into the bad books of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF). He succeeded in the 90s by bypassing the Nigerian Football Association to the Presidency, where there was the willingness to provide for him what he needed to succeed and he did succeed.
Following President Yar’adua’s lost of hope in the coaching crew of the Super Eagles as a result of the 2-2 draw between the Nigerian team and the Tunisian counterpart the president was said to have directed the Minister of sports to start shopping for a replacement for Amodu in preparation for the Nations Cup. I do not think that the Minister should look too far. The answer to our problems lies in Westerhorf.
Yiro Abari, Jos Nigeria
Nov 27, 2009
In his appraisal of the Nigerian democracy since 1999, Dafes said his perception is mixed. The shortcomings of the democracy according to him, is accentuated by political indiscipline that has resulted in Nigeria being placed as the number 137th most corrupt nation out just over 180 countries of the world. Dafes said the root of the problem is in the inability of the nation to evolve into a true democracy where actual winners of elections are announced as the winners rather than the current situation that ensures that losers are actually announced as victorious. Such leaders cannot be held to account by the people since at the back of their minds, they know they were not elected.
Religion is what people believe in and if Pastor Chris Okotie wanted to become president then he ought to have the backing of other Christians since they have the same belief. Contrary to this, Dafes said he never voted Chris Okotie. According to him, he never met Okotie in person and does not know his manifestos. Furthermore, should Okotie win, he will be compelled to have some cabinet members from the secular world of Nigerian politics that will inevitably stain him as a clergy man. The history of clergy men in Nigeria politics has been a source of embarrassment to the rest of them as such politicians failed to live up to their calling as men of God.
Dafes said that not all Christian politicians are truly committed Christians. It is the reason why it is difficult to change them. According to him one of them once said that the church should not mingle into their affairs because the type of oath they take is far different from the type of oath usually taken in the church.
Dafes also explained that it will be disastrous to find a political party on the basis of religion like the Christian Party in Germany because our level of political development is so modest that it will be better for us to just sustain the status quo. Such parties will not find acceptance. Though political parties are not founded on the basis of religion, he says however, some parties are perceived as Christian parties while others are perceived as Islamic parties with the different faiths voting largely along this line. To stress his point, he added that a presidential aspirant once pronounced that all Muslims should vote Muslims and all Christians should vote Christians. He said that until we pull ourselves out of this predicament, we will continue to experience the current political difficulties. The Christians he says cannot separate themselves from the Muslims and vice versa as God knows why he brought us together as the people of one nation.
According to the young but outspoken legislator, his constituency is one in which the people have failed to manage their ethic and religious differences as it should be. The result is perennial fighting, during which people are killed or maimed and lifetime possessions lost. The people however saw the need to come together and vote for him to make him their rep at the state house of assembly. This action of the people has led him to see himself as the unifying factor of the people of the constituency. Thus one of his goals to the constituency is working towards a lasting integration of the people. Related to this is the bill he is sponsoring for the establishment of an emergency respond centre to threat people in the event of religious or ethnic warfare.
Crisis among the people are most times the result of frustration due to leadership failure. Along this line, his predecessor who was wrongly sent to the House also failed since he was unable to initiate a single project to fill the development vacuum in the constituency during the two years he has been at the House. Abubakar however intends to tow a different line. The projects that are now at lintel or roofing levels in his constituency in just six months of his representation have vindicated him.
Besides the 5km township road project in Quanpan, there is just but the Dokan Tofa-Baab road project undertaken by the state government. Abubakar was not opened but the tone in his voice seems to suggest that more could have been done.
Abubakar is also full of praises to the House for living up to its duty of curtailing the excesses of the executive in the state. The House does not usually sit on Wednesdays. It however sat on Wednesday 18. It is due to the urgency of the agenda before the members. A court had ruled that the sitting Chairman of Mikang was wrongly declared a winner following the Chairmanship elections for local government councils but the Plateau State Independent Electoral Commission failed to issue a certificate of return to the actual winner of the election as directed by a court. Their sitting on Wednesday was meant to compel the Chairman of the electoral commission to issue that certificate. The previous day, the House sat and passed only N4 billion as against the N14 billion that was tabled before the House by the executive as supplementary budget for the year 2009. The House did not do so without giving it’s a reason which was that the year is already spent and it will not be reasonable that the state can spend up to N14 billion in less than fifty days remaining for the year to end. These two events in the house, according to Abubakar are a demonstration of the ability of the house to check the excesses of the Plateau State executive arm of government.
Nov 5, 2009
Oct 21, 2009
The National Orientation Agency (NOA) in Nigeria is shouldered with the responsibility of consistently raising the awareness, provide timely and credible feedback, and positively change attitude and values amongst Nigerians. It is also responsible for accurately and adequately informing and sufficiently mobilizing citizens to act in ways that promote peace, harmony and national development. The NOA in collaboration with the National Institute for Policy and Strategic Studies (NIPSS) in Kuru Plateau State on 20th October 2009 presented a book titled ‘A Survey of Nigerian Core Values. As the name implies, the book is a survey of the level of perception of the values of the nation among its citizens in the 36 states of the nation and Abuja. According to Idi Farouk the Director General of NOA, the 269-page book is an intellectual exercise whose aim is to articulate a set of national core values that would enhance and promote positive value re-orientation, national integration and cohesion. He said that these values have been weather-beaten over the years thereby leaving us in the state of confusion in which we now find ourselves.
Farouk drew a direct line of transmission between material resource and the quality and attitude of human resource. In that wise he says, the level of progress of a nation is a direct consequence of a favorable combination of these two broad factors. He thus played up the significance of the patriotic duty and responsibility of Nigerians to ensure that the vision 202020 of President Umar Musa Yar’adua succeeds. Thus his agency has a twin responsibility of enlightening Nigerians on the significance of the president’s vision and the pursuance of value orientation and attitudinal transformation of Nigerians. NOA is hence delighted that the book will provide the needed reservoir of data to back up its effort towards addressing the specific needs in the attitudinal gaps of the various social spectra of Nigeria.
The collaboration between NOA and NIPSS according the DG was necessity by the common responsibility the two have. While NIPSS addresses the same subject at the leadership level, NOA does the same thing albeit at the grassroots.
Earlier, Nigerian orator and one of its few remaining nationalists, Yusufu Maitama Sule, the Dan masanin Kano electrified the gathering when he addressed the same issue. In his speech, Maitama dwelt on Nigerian traditional core values whose erosion is responsible for the chaos in which we find ourselves.
The Dan Masanin Kano noted that a number of countries which include Brazil and the Asian tigers had about the same level of progress as Nigeria at its independence. Today, he noted, these countries are far ahead of Nigeria on the global development index. He attributed the steady progress of these nations to the reverence they attach to their traditional values.
Despite Nigeria’s diversity he says, there are more similarities than differences in our traditional values and should have served as the basis for national integration and cohesion, core values the nation has not adequately been able to preserve.
The orator did not fail to mention the role of another core value, discipline towards the progress of the nation. According to him, Nigeria’s past leaders have been conscious of the modest level of discipline among Nigerians and the fact that it has contributed enormously to our chameleon speed of progress. That he says explains why every administration since the mid-seventies had war against indiscipline as part of its agenda to building the nation.
The former Nigerian Ambassador to the UN noted that democracy differs from nation to nation even in the western world. This is because there is the need for democracy to reflect local cultures. When this fails to happen, it results in the state of events in which Nigeria has found itself today. Thus he advocates an African derivative of democracy to be known as Afrocracy which must be preceded by a bloodless cultural revolution.
Oct 13, 2009
There is no doubt that we lack a maintenance culture in Nigeria. For unpatriotic Nigerians however, the lack of maintenance culture is either deliberate or encouraged as it serves their purpose. The structures have continued to wear away as a result of the lack of maintenance. Those built during the colonial era have been able to stand wear and tear for a longer period of time since they were built with a deliberate aim of ensuring they lasted for a longer period. No matter how strong a building is, it will eventually begin to wear out however. That is what is happening to even the colonial blocks of my primary school presently.
Of these eight blocks only three are adequate enough for the population of the school thereby confirming the suspicion that the classroom blocks are built primarily to get some people rich.
In Nigeria, it is an open secret that authorities hate maintaining school buildings as it is the only way of ensuring that contracts are awarded for the construction of new ones during which money is made by contractors and the members of the administration awarding the contracts.
The other day as I passed around the school I saw the blown roof top of the most solid structure built with rocks derived from the rocks which are available in my community. It has been like that for the past three years. It then dawned on me that the local authority whose responsibility it is to maintain the structure is determined not to undertake that responsibility.
I decided to see certain prominent persons who went to that school hoping that their show of interest in seeing that the structure is rehabilitated will compel the local government education department to see to it that the building is given the desired attention. On arrival at the house of one such individual I first met with his son who is known to me. I then asked if he could arrange a meeting between me and his dad. He asked if all was well. I answered that I wanted to see the man in my position as a journalist. He told me I have to go and come back some other time to enable him arranged the meeting. I responded by calling his attention to the fact that the man is around and people are seeing him and why not me. I then went ahead to tell him the exact reason why I wanted to see the father by revealing to him the situation of the school. He responded by saying that why the school is like that is that people are only trying to get some money for themselves and doubts if his father who happened to be an ex-security official would want to attend to such an issue. The guy who said this claims to be a graduate of sociology. Seeing that he didn’t have any intention of letting me see the man, I left to the house of a second individual who was also educated in that school. I also met with a son of his who was sweeping the yard when I arrived. I told him to tell the father that I am a journalist. When the man came he asked why I wanted to see him. On hearing the subject of my mission, he simply told me he doesn’t talk to journalist and opened the door for me to find my bearing. He actually banged the door behind me. This is a man who had been the chairman of a local government during his period in the service.
Oct 8, 2009
Sep 27, 2009
Mr. Dung explained that a reasonable degree of prevention of fire outbreaks can be achieved if the fire service has its operations improved upon to a professional standard. This is usually achieved with a good manpower base that is properly trained and welled equipped. The public must also be adequately educated to understand that the fire service knows there is a fire outbreak only when it is informed through phone calls or other efficient means of communication. Majority of the public, he says are ignorant that fire fighting as undertaken by his organization is free. As a result they sometimes prefer to put out fires on their own using manual approaches with all its shortcomings.
One problem his organization has often faced is the problem of chaotic development of residential areas that has often led to the inability of his organization to put out fires as a result of the unavailability of in-roads.
Mr. Dung said that Nigeria is a country where emphasis has often been placed on security consciousness but not on safety consciousness. Safety consciousness however, ensures prevention. He noted that most fire accidents would have been avoided but the lack of a culture of safety consciousness has been responsible for our inability to prevent them leading to lost of lives and belongings. He said that the national fire code is underway and it is hoped that its final passage into law would ensure the enforcement of crucial fire regulations. When that happens he says he is sure the frequency of fire accidents will reduce.
The Plateau State Government according to Dung is now determined to overcome some of the difficulties of the Plateau State Fire Service. More persons have been recruited into the service. An ambulance has also been purchased to help them in their rescue operations for victims of fire accidents. As at the time of granting this interview, Dung said that some equipments have been ordered and are being expected at the end of the week.
Dung called on private organizations to take up the responsibility of sponsoring radio and television programs aimed at creating awareness, as doing so will go a long way towards ensuring they arrive fire accidents sites as quickly as possible. Such forums will also serve as channels for educating the public on fire safety consciousness and its significance.
Growing challenges resulting from population explosions and the consequent desire for economic activities to support the increasing population has further played up the significance of the river in the various states. This is also coming at a time when the nation’s authorities have devolved powers for generating electricity to the state governments. Some states could thus be considering building water barrier dams across the basin with the intention of generating hydro-electric energy. When this happens, the communities downstream would be prevented from getting access to the water anymore. Already the decision of the Bauchi State Government to build a dam across the basin at Keffin Madaki has resulted in a showdown between the state and the other four, downstream.
The world is indeed a small place. A Plateau man travelling upwards to the northern part of the country may fail to realize that the high velocity and explosive Hadejia River he sees at Kano and Jigawa is the slow and gentle river Dilimi he apparently left behind in Jos. It would be the reason why the river had become his refuse dump resulting in the people suffering all manner of water borne infections downstream as a result of his abuse of the river. At this time of dire need of additional megawatts of electricity, he may also be tempted to build a dam and broaden the irrigation opportunities of his brethren. These considerations informed the hosting of a capacity building workshop for Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) which was held at CRUDAN office at Sabon Barki in Jos-south Plateau State.
According to Sam Ishaya, the focal contact person for the Hadejia-Jama’are-Kamadugu-Yobe River Basin project for Plateau State, the aim of the capacity building for the CSOs is for them to in turn train communities with stakes in the river to play strategic and key roles in determining how the water resource is governed and where development project will be carried out, in a more transparent, environmentally friendly, cost effective and efficient manner. Already, there are the Fida, Chalawa and Hadejia dams along the basin. The sensitization will among other things teach approaches by which the demerits of these dams can be minimized as much as possible in addition to ensuring that additional dams are not built. The workshop thus has dam impacts within the basin, policy frameworks of the world commission on dams and water and energy policy advocacy as topics to be addressed during the workshop.
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