The youth uprising against police brutality in Nigeria has taken many by surprise. Conventional wisdom is that the youth are more likely to dance at a concert than sing a protest song. Events of the last couple of weeks have altered this narrative as youthful Nigerians have taken to the streets in a vigorous campaign to shoot down police brutality, with the notoriety of the special anti-robbery squad (SARS) serving as the trigger — no pun intended. With the help of the hash tag, #EndSARS, the agitations have gained international attention. And the government has seen that this is not business as usual. Are we finally at the tipping point in the battle for the soul of Nigeria?
While the protests have, in the main, been about police brutality, interpreting them purely as such would be a massive mistake. We would be making a mistake if we focus on the fact that other interests, especially political, have seized the opportunity to fuel the fire. We would be erring by looking only at the disruptions being created all over by protesters who have refused to yield an inch despite their demands being met by the government. We would be missing the point if we focus too much on the fact that even the yahoo boys are eager to see the end of SARS, which itself grooms and harbours a legion of police officers that are yahoo boys and robbers by nature.
For sure, every struggle has its own opportunists. All kinds of characters will jump on the bandwagon to pursue their own agenda. That’s the way life goes. We have to look beyond that. My reading of the real situation is that there is something deeper going on out there. Deeper than SARS. Deeper than SWAT. Deeper than police brutality. What we have in our hands is the unloading of pent-up anger, frustration and resentment by Nigerians — with the youth leading the line. The SARS situation is what Yoruba would describe as “ara ran bombu l’owo” — that is… now I don’t know how to interpret that. Let me just say: “A thunder strike has helped detonate a bomb.”
In 1988, when I was a student of Kwara State Polytechnic where I studied for my A’Levels, we hardly had water at our residential halls. We queued up with our buckets every morning and every evening for water supply by tankers. Then one evening, guys played football. The tankers did not show up. How would they go to bed sweaty and smelly? A few of them started beating their buckets, singing “aluta” songs over water scarcity and poor welfare. Before we knew it, it had progressed to a protest march across the campus. And then a full-blown riot. Overnight, some of us trekked 10 kilometres to Ilorin town, afraid that soldiers would soon invade the campus and start shooting.
You would find it hard thinking a simple football game would lead to a bloody riot in a matter of minutes. In fact, if you were the cynical type, you would argue that the students were unserious, that they were in school to study and not to play football, and that it was the unserious students that caused the riot in order to be sent home. But you would be missing the point. Students were already frustrated. Nobody was paying attention. The anger was building up. The authorities did not see it. The resentment had reached a peak. They ignored it. It took a meaningless football match to fan the flame into an inferno. That is what happens when you fail to read the writing on the wall.
Let’s now return to #EndSARS. For decades, Nigerians have been complaining about police brutality. For decades, the Nigerian state has turned a blind eye, despite panels upon panels set up and recommendations upon recommendations made. As Professor Jibrin Ibrahim, respected political scientist and newspaper columnist, pointed out, all presidents since 1999 have set up one panel or the other on police reform. The reports are gathering dust on Aso Rock shelves. Meanwhile, the police have been gleefully stockpiling dead bodies, cocksure that there would be no consequences. SARS went on robbing and killing with impunity. Is the day of reckoning finally here?
But SARS apart, youth frustration has been building up. We asked them to go to school. They did. Write WASSCE. They did. Write UMTE. They did. Go to university. They did. Do national youth service. They did. Yet years later, they are still begging to apply for vacancies that do not exist, vacancies reserved for the children of the high and mighty. There are those that keep writing entrance exams but are unable to proceed because of lack of space or funds. There are those that never went to school, and those that dropped out in primary or secondary school. Millions are underemployed, unemployed or unemployable. What a huge army of frustrated youth.
But in the same country, if you manage to get elected into a state house of assembly, you will get a brand new SUV, currently sold at N50 million per machine. In some states, there are 40 lawmakers. That is N2 billion. Judges will wake up one day to realise the governor has just bought “tear-rubber” SUVs for them. Governors ride long convoys with the most modern bullet-proof technology. In the same society, hospitals are rejecting patients because “there is no bed space”. People are struggling to pay rising bus fares but their leaders can afford to charter jets to attend weddings and rallies. The youth see all these things. This is a society built on injustice and inequality. And we want peace?
Poverty, unemployment and inequality are the biggest triggers for uprising in any society. Some young persons taking to yahoo, drug dealing and armed robbery are products of a system that does not reckon with the implications of unemployment and poverty. An idle hand, it is said, is tempting the devil. No human being will sit at home and die of hunger. Self-preservation is a basic human instinct. If it is to steal, beg or borrow, the human being will strive to survive. Let me be clear: I am NOT justifying crime. However, a wise society will make a connection between unemployment, poverty and crime, and act decisively to address the problems at the root.
For decades, we have been asking the government to make the economic environment less hostile to businesses, especially small and medium scale enterprises, so that they will be able to create jobs for the millions of skilled and unskilled Nigerians. For decades, we have been putting up with the dissonance — government, on one hand, claiming they are trying to improve the ease of doing business; and government agencies, on the other hand, continuously terrorising SMEs with extortionate levies and taxes in a mad revenue drive, using task forces loaded with thugs and police officers to make the business environment unbearable for the engine room of the economy.
For inexplicable reasons, the government —whether federal, state or local — cannot understand the link between policy and prosperity. They think by making life difficult for businesses and their owners, the economy will grow and create the jobs needed to address the unemployment, poverty and inequality ravaging the nation. Does that make sense? For instance, if you run a business in Abuja, right under the nose of the federal government, the ministries, departments and agencies will violently come after you in such a way that you would think you are a Boko Haram member. Serious countries are encouraging SMEs. We are killing them. And we want to tackle unemployment.
In FCT, at least three units of the Abuja Municipal Council Area (AMAC) do “health inspection” on an eatery every year. You pay a levy for each visit. NAFDAC, NSTIF and SON will also do the same “health inspection” for a fee. There is an annual licence for “operating in FCT”. There is a levy for “using a car to distribute food”. You will be forced to pay Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and AMAC again for “fumigation”. There is also the AMAC “sanitary inspection” fee. AMAC’s department of environment charges for yearly inspection. There is yet another AMAC fee for “food and water-related handling”. That is how we want to encourage economic growth and create jobs in Nigeria!
In all, the #EndSARS protesters need to have an articulated game plan. They must have an end game in mind. At what stage do they sheathe the sword and seize this golden opportunity to begin to hold leaders at all levels accountable as a movement? No government official, whether elected or appointed, should sleep at ease again. What are the lawmakers doing with the constituency projects? Why are the roads so bad? Why are the hospitals and schools in such horrible state? Why are government officials chartering jets to attend political rallies? How are the budgets spent? These questions should shape the next stage of agitation, which should be peaceful and orderly.
If #EndSARS is going to be Nigeria’s tipping point — the point at which pockets of protests and agitations will trigger a major, sustained clamour for good governance — there is a need for strategic articulation, with an end game in mind. This is a lifetime opportunity for the youth to channel their anger, frustration and resentment into positive energy to bring about a fundamental change in Nigeria. The biggest gain should not be just to enforce an end to police brutality and impunity. Those are just symptoms of the chronic mismanagement of Nigeria. After #EndSARS, we need to end the biggest obstacle to our progress: appalling leadership at all tiers of government.
OPINION: The electric car Buhari-Osinbajo built Tunde Odesola
(Published in The PUNCH, on Monday, June 21, 2021)
Chanting a million and one ‘gbosas’ to acknowledge the magic performed last week in Abuja by Nigeria’s President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), and his deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN), would be an exercise in ingratitude.
For executing the 8th Wonder of the World, President Buhari and Vice President Osinbajo deserve to be worshipped by Nigerians forever.
Surely, it can only be magic, not a miracle; to strike the ground with a wand, ‘gbaa!’, and a car’s rooftop cracks open the earth, slowly erupting into full view, like a mild volcano, amid dust and thunderous chants of ‘CHANGE!’, birthing the first Made-in-Nigeria electric car, Kona.
It can only be Eh-Fi-Si abracadabra. You may call it ‘efisi’, if you like swagger.
Without a workforce, steel rolling mill, power supply, technological know-how, mechanical and electrical components, the Buhari-Osinbajo government must have secretly gathered invisible hands that worked round the clock to produce Nigeria’s first electric car. This government doesn’t lie, I swear.
Permit me to quickly buttress my deep conviction that the Buhari-Osinbajo rulership doesn’t lie.
Exasperated about being called a liar, the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, in a viral video, said, “‘My seven-year-old grandson called me and said, ‘Grandpa, tell me the truth; why do they call you Liar Mohammed?’”
Alhaji Lai added, “I looked at him. What do you say to a seven-year-old (grand)son? How do you explain politics to him? So, I said, no; don’t mind them.”
The Buhari-Osinbajo government doesn’t lie, it only doesn’t fulfil promises. Soon, the FG will replace the gloom on Nigerian roads with the gleam of the green electric car. This may not be by 2023, however; remember, Yobe State Governor, Mai Buni, prophesied the APC would rule for more than the next 32 years.
Fathered and christened by Hyundai, a South-Korean automaker, Kona electric car isn’t an abiku that comes and goes in countless seasons. But baby Kona had actually come in November 2020 when Lagos Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, publicly unveiled and presented it in Lagos, where the car was ostensibly manufactured.
Therefore, Osinbajo wasn’t the godfather of Kona, it was Sanwo-Olu, who presented the car at baptism. I repeat, this government doesn’t lie.
Don’t get me wrong, please. It’s not a crime to present and re-present the same car to the public 30 times, it only shows government’s seriousness and commitment to technology transfer.
But do you know the real reasons why the cerebral Osinbajo re-presented Kona to Nigerians seven long months after Sanwo-Olu had unveiled it? I know, and I’ll tell you.
After six months in power with neither direction nor a cabinet, signs that the aircraft of the Buhari-Osinbajo regime would need to be pushed and jump-started – like a ‘kabukabu’ – began to manifest.
The Buhari-Osinbajo regime badly needed the Kona PR because in the last six years, the Federal Government hasn’t fulfilled one-hundredth of its electoral promises.
But unpromised dividends of democracy such as killings by Fulani herdsmen, kidnapping, corruption, ethnic agitations, banditry, nepotism, despondency, fear and hopelessness have been delivered as sizzling hot takeaways to Nigerians benumbed by a tragic, fractured nation.
On their campaign trails in 2015 and 2019, Buhari-Osinbajo brandished hope to the electorate, churning out promises like the rapid-fire guns used by killer herdsmen.
As their ecstatic supporters roared during campaigns in 2015, Buhari and Osinbajo promised to crush Boko Haram within three months in power and lower the exchange rate of dollar to naira which then stood below N200.
The magical duo promised more, vowing to ban government officials from going abroad for medical treatment, dismantle the Office of the First Lady, publicly declare assets, distribute 20,000 megawatts of electricity within their first four years, revive Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill, construct superhighways across the country, among others.
I can bet my neck that the Buhari-Osinbajo regime of integrity will fulfil its electoral promises before the expiration of its two terms, although the blood of innocent southern and Middle Belt farmers have been used to irrigate the pasture fed to Fulani cattle.
Today, the naira has thankfully appreciated at almost N500 to a dollar while light doesn’t blink in my Iyana Ipaja-Agege neck of the woods just as intensive work is ongoing to complete the 100-kilometre Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, six years after promising the construction of phantom 3,000-kilometre superhighways across the country.
Thank goodness the Buhari-Osinbajo government is winning the terror war though everyday negotiations and payments of ransoms on kidnapped citizens across Nigeria are rampant and reminiscent of the slave trade era when dog life was of higher value than human life.
It’s true that confessed Boko Haram terrorists are now regular guests at government houses where they are hosted to sumptuous negotiation dinners with their AK-47 strapped across their necks as they smile at the camera, while the President has commanded his troops not to ‘give breathing space to terrorists’.
For a government being bashed at home by its citizens for innumerable reasons, and buffeted abroad by world leaders over the ban on Twitter, a re-presentation of Made-in-Nigeria Kona by Osinbajo was highly needed.
Despite its rarity, however, I had the good fortune of seeing an electric car yesterday. My shylock landlord, after increasing rent on his houses and shops for the third year running, bought one and decided to unveil it on Father’s Day.
I didn’t go out to felicitate with my landlord. I remained in my one-room apartment and peeped through the window because I’ve yet to pay security levy. The bill is despite the fact that robbers have visited the house twice in the last one month.
I could see and hear everyone clearly because the car was parked near my window. This is what I heard:
Caretaker: Oga landlord, dis tear rubber na confam o!
Landlord: (Smiles) It’s the Lord’s doing, it’s beautiful in our sight.
Corper: (Snapping selfies with the car) This car is tush, sir. How much does it cost, sir?
Landlord: N24m only.
AbereIfa: Ha! Dis small car?
Caretaker: Don’t you know it doesn’t use fuel? It uses electricity.
AbereIfa: Electricity? How?
Landlord: The car runs on electricity. When fully charged for 9 hrs 35 mins, the vehicle can cover a distance of 482km which is equivalent to the distance between Lagos and Warri.
AbereIfa: If the electricity wey follow am come finish, where you go see light recharge am?
Caretaker: Oga Landlord will go Ghana or put 50 litre-gallon fuel for boot. If electricity finish, oga go pour fuel.
Landlord: No, it doesn’t use fuel. I’ll charge it here at home.
AbereIfa: With tenants’ prepaid credits? That one no go dey possible o, oga.
Caretaker: No be electric car you suppose buy, Landlord. See, armed robbers dey disturb us every night, the toilet is not good, there’s no water, tenants are unhappy.
Landlord: How does your welfare concern me? Are you members of my family or tribe?
Corper: Landlord, get into the car and drive it nah. I want to see you drive your electric car like the one I saw on TV yesterday.
Landlord: You saw one on the TV yesterday?
Corper: Yes, sir.
Landlord: How did the one you saw on TV look like?
Corper: It was green in colour.
Corper: Yes, green and gleamy. I saw Vice President Yemi Osinbajo behind the wheel, in company with two big men. There were many security men around the car, putting their hands on the car as if preventing it from disappearing.
AbereIfa: Chai, dis girl.
Corper: Yes, nah. They didn’t allow the car to move freely, unlike President Joe Biden’s test-run of an electric Ford truck in the US. Biden fastened his seat belt. You can’t say that about every big man in the Nigerian electric car. And Vice President Osinbajo used one hand to drive, Biden used both hands.”
AbereIfa: VP used one hand? Chai, diarisgod o.
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Opinion: Buhari’s leopard can’t change its spots by Tunde Odesola
(Published in The PUNCH, on Monday, June 14, 2021)
It’s only a 43-year-old novice President like Emmanuel Macron of France that can take a hot slap on the right cheek and go back home to sleep. That can never happen in the Feudal Republic of Nigeria. This oyinbo people sef! Are they weird or wayward, or both?
Last Tuesday, a 28-year-old French citizen, Damien Tarel, publicly held President Macron close to himself with his left hand and planted a deafening slap on the President’s left cheek with his right hand, t-t-w-w-a-a-i-i!!! Macron must have seen presidential stars at midday as the slap landed and echoed far in the city of Lyon.
When taken to court, Tarel said the slap was Macron’s reward for representing ‘very neatly the decay of our country’, and the court, in turn, rewarded Tarel with four-month imprisonment and a 45,000-euro fine. Na wa for ndi beke o!?
The maximum sentence for slapping the President of France is just three years in an ultra modern jail that’s better equipped and more secure than all of Nigeria’s public institutions, but Tarel got only four months out of the maximum 36 months. Imagine?
Hear Macron, the President who accommodated the dirty slap, “It’s not such a big deal to get a slap when you go toward a crowd to say hello to some people who were waiting for a long time.”
Haaa! You can never understand these oyinbo people! Someone slaps a president, gets a bail and the lightest of sentences, and the President says nothing spoil? Dis one shock me o! E no shock you?
If that happened in Nigeria? Ha, Ogun Lakaye Osinmale ooo! The Igbo and Yoruba gods of thunder, Amadioha and Sango Olukoso, will reincarnate live at the scene, spitting thunder, lightning and brimstone. Forever, no grass will grow at that scene!
Demons will descend on Damien the son of Tarel, who would instantly arrive at heaven’s gate with his body parts such as teeth, eyes, ears and right hand packed in a ‘nylon’ bag hanging around his neck. Slap who!? What are you talking ke? No mistake pepper for powder o.
Also, many innocent victims killed by stray bullets at the scene would accompany Tarel to heaven’s gate with some of them belching teargas while some others would have their spinal cords sticking out like the malfunctioning hands of an unstuck wall clock.
There was no slap at the Lekki tollgate on October 20, 2020. But there were bullets and blood after a protest by harmless flag-clutching Nigerian youths, who were over 700 kilometres away from Aso Rock, the official castle of Nigerian President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.).
Conscienceless, the dictatorship headed by Buhari and his deputy, Professor Yemi Osinbajo, unleashed security agents on the protesting youths, some of whom were dispatched to their early graves with their green-white-green flags dripping with blood.
By demanding an end to corruption and the enthronement of good governance, the youths had committed a sacrilege punishable in the Nigerian state by death. By calling on the Buhari-Osinbajo regime to wake up from eternal slumber and check the country’s slide into anarchy, the youths earned one-way tickets to their graves.
But if there was a Lekki tollgate in France, funds generated thereof would not be enshrouded in everlasting controversy. French is a romantic language. I think they would call their Lekki tollgate, ‘Tollgate Du Leqqui’. And French gendarmes would stay meters away from the protesters and watch as French youths exercised their human rights.
The over 200 years old French democracy sits on the shoulders of the young President Macron. Nigeria’s unbroken 21-year-old 4th Republic sits on the weak shoulders of olden President Buhari.
Please, don’t get me wrong; old age isn’t a curse. I mean, accurate old age isn’t a disease. Indeed, the wisdom that accompanies old age becomes a blessing to generations if the geriatric doesn’t take on tasks beyond his physical and mental capacities.
There are world leaders who, in their old ages, still exhibit profound mental acuity. Examples of such leaders are American President, (78), his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, (68), Israeli Prime Minister; Benjamin Netanyahu, (71), and the King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who is 85 years old, among others.
These are leaders with genuine ages. They are leaders whose mental outputs bespeak their true ages. But the same cannot be said of President Buhari who honestly disclosed in December 2017 that he doesn’t know his real age.
In his typical mishmash manner of answering questions, the President had said, “I am thinking I am 75. I thought I was 74 but I was told I was 75.” Thinking 75. Thought 74. Told 75: Imagine the distorted thought process? And upon the shoulders of this President rests the task of reinventing a nation of 200 million people? Can the blind lead the sighted?
Particularly, the clueless manner with which Buhari answers questions during media interviews could be a pointer suggestive of the possibility that the President could be far beyond the 78 years he adopted as his official age.
The characteristic disconnection of Buhari’s answers from questions asked during interviews is worrisome. I had exposed this cavity in one of my recent articles.
But, going by the worsening of this ever-present trend, I began to suspect that Buhari could, after all, be an octogenarian, a nonagenarian or a centenarian – given the fact that his birth was not documented – just like his secondary school claim.
Answering questions from some handpicked Villa-familiar journalists on Arise TV last week, President Buhari, again, revealed a mind chained to tribalism, ransomed by nepotism, and completely out of depth about democracy.
I was alarmed that the Buhari-Osinbajo regime of the 21st Century is still giving thought to revamping ancient grazing routes used when the total population of Nigeria was barely 50 million.
This Fulani President, who has persistently made a case for nomadic Fulani herdsmen to be allowed to graze their cattle on Middle Belt and southern farmers’ crops, didn’t say a word of commiseration when herdsmen killed many people in the Igangan community of Oyo State, last week.
Because he’s involved, Buhari, the Life Patron of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria – the umbrella body of all herdsmen in the country – has also threatened to deal ruthlessly with Biafran agitators, closing his eyes to the atrocities wreaked by his Fulani folks.
Till date, no herdsman has been prosecuted and found guilty in the southern part of the country by the Buhari regime.
During the interview, Buhari vouchsafed his regime’s claim to baseless integrity, telling Nigerians that his lopsided appointments were based on competence, experience and years of service.
No, Buhari didn’t forget that his feudal regime had technically retired 70 southern Army generals with the appointment of the new Chief of Army Staff, Major General Faruk Yahaya, from Sokoto, who was picked way down the ladder of military seniority.
He only stuck to his guns on talking points in which barefaced lies couldn’t suffice, and employed sophistry to mask the atrocities of his inept government against the Middle Belt and the southern parts of the country.
For self, Buhari outlawed Twitter. For kith and kin, he retires 70 serving generals, bringing their careers to an abrupt, unplanned end.
For Buhari, experience, service and competence are nothing: Tribe is everything. This is the promised CHANGE. A-P-C!
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Opinion: Did Buhari watch Chelsea’s incredible victory?
By Tunde Odesola
(Published in The PUNCH, on Monday, May 31, 2021)
’Twas a spectacle with all the trappings of a full-fledged drama: conflict, timing, tension, rhythm, mood, language, sound, space, focus, contrast and a crushing climax. ’Twas the UEFA Champions League final played before 50,035 spectators on a 115x68m stage called Dragon Stadium in Porto, Portugal’s second largest city after Lisbon. Believe you me, the dragons that emerged within the stadium and afflicted the Manchester team won’t be exorcised too soon.
It’s not only art that imitates life, sports do, too. And many a time, life, in its fitful drama, offers grapes instead of oranges and waxes bile instead of honey.
For me, the outcome of the impending UEFA finale was as sure as death. Lightning doesn’t strike at the same spot twice. Eewo orisa! Impossible abomination! But I was soon to discover the futility of this age-long belief even as science has proved that lightning strikes the 102-storey Empire State Building in Manhattan, New York, about 25 times every year.
I had it all figured out, or so I thought. I had cast some catchy headlines and thought up some super storyline with twists and turns leading to the ultimate triumph of Manchester City FC in the UEFA final.
But life is quicksand; after Chelsea’s lightning had struck Manchester City twice in England, it travelled an air distance of 1,812 kilometres to Portugal and struck City for the third time in six weeks! Chelsea FC put a grenade to my personal pot of fantasy and shattered the initial layout of this article. Ha! How do I beat my deadline?
Usually, I write my column on Saturday morning but I delayed it till Saturday night – after the epic final – just to accommodate Manchester City’s anticipatory victory, hoping to use the triumph to rile my known and unknown football frenemies, who cut across countries and continents, online and offline.
In England, for instance, I dislike Chelsea FC with passion and long draped it in the garb of an archenemy while in Spain, where I support the club that plays football like angels, FC Barcelona, my archfoe is (un)Real Madrid FC, which I do not dislike but hate for their dominance.
When Chelsea came up against Madrid in the semifinals of the competition, I supported the London club but I silently prayed it never get past Manchester City in the finals.
Worldwide, tit-for-tat aka ‘gbas gbos’ is the language spoken in football fandom, where revenge is never cold, but served hot like the pounded yam of 20 years.
In Porto, on Saturday, Chelsea’s cunning coach, Thomas Tuchel, exacted another pound of flesh from the greatest coach in club football today, Pep Guardiola, who had peppered Tuchel four times while they both coached Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund respectively.
Before the UCL final, Guardiola had only lost in one of the 15 finals in his career while Tuchel had lost in his two finals only to come back a year later and win both titles.
The mantra among Nigerian football supporters is ‘the enemy of my friend is my enemy’, and inter-club banters could spring from trivias such as jersey colour or coach’s height, reinforcing the proverb which says an enemy never kills a big grasscutter, ota eni kii pa odu oya.
To understand football fans’ psychology, a peep into Nigerian politics or polygamy will suffice. Except suspicion, envy and rivalry, nothing is cast in concrete in Nigerian politics or a typical polygamous home. What is sauce for the goose is never sauce for the gander: rules change like quicksilver, depending on the idiosyncrasies of who is at the driver and the convenience of the seat.
For me, May is a month I won two battles but lost the war. One, my preferred team, Leicester defeated Chelsea 0-1 in the final of the English FA Cup. Two, Villareal, a Spanish team, defeated Manchester United in the final of the Europa League final 10-11 on penalties, but the biggest prize of all was lost to Chelsea’s never-say-die spirit and Guardiola’s oversabi which is turning into an albatross over the years.
I’m still in shock as to why Guardiola, like it’s now becoming common to him in the knockout stages of the UCL to come up with questionable line-ups, decided to play without a natural striker and a defensive midfielder on the biggest stage of club football, and Chelsea punished his indiscretion when a Mason Mount intelligent pass split open City’s defence through the very middle for Kai Havertz to maroon goalkeeper Ederson Moraes, scoring the only goal of the match.
Today, I neither intend to bemoan the twin bombs dropped on the city of Manchester by Villareal and Chelsea within three days apart, nor do I intend to count the countless teeth of Adepele, the hyperdontia that Nigeria’s political class has become.
Now that the hurlyburly’s done and the battle is won and lost, Chelsea, worthy Champions of Europe, deserve their time in the sun for ‘Blue is the colour, football is the game’.
I doff my hat for Chelsea, whose fans, britannica.com describes as one of ‘England’s most notorious gangs of football hooligans known as Headhunters’, and ‘have been responsible for organised violence in the stands since the 1970s’.
But as the euphoria of victory and the bitterness of defeat ebb, I guess it’s also time the Nigerian leadership looks in the mirror and takes lessons from the Chelsea triumph.
I wish Nigerian President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) and his deputy, Yemi Osinbajo, watched the match. I don’t give a hoot if they oohed or aahed during the match. All I care about is that they both did not lose the lessons inherent in the Chelsea victory.
I also wish the President of the Senate, Ahmed Lawan, his deputy, Ovie Omo-Agege, and the leadership of the House of Representatives – all watched the match, and not lose sight of the lessons in the exemplary leadership of Tuchel, who took Chelsea from the ninth position in January this year to the pinnacle of club football four months later.
Tuchel, unlike the Buhari-Osinbajol-led government, didn’t whine about the players he inherited from Chelsea’s former coach, Frank Lampard, but settled down to work and turned an average team to Europe’s best.
I wish Nigerian political leaders at all levels saw the economic stupidity in our love for foreign football and truly develop our local leagues to partake in the multi billion dollars venture football has become globally.
As I said early on, this article is a salute to Chelsea’s indomitable spirit, and not a criticism of the inept Buhari-Osinbajo government. Tuchel picked the best available legs for every game. He wasn’t nepotistic like the Buhari-Osinbajo rudderless government, which has never criticised killings by suspected Fulani herdsmen across the country.
Tuchel understands the burden of leadership. He knows the goals of the board and the expectation of the club’s teeming supporters worldwide, and he rose to the occasion by constantly communicating with his players, never absented himself at critical moments, demonstrating compassion, exuding confidence and building trust – virtues lacking in the Buhari-Osinbajo government.
It’s Chelsea’s moment of joy, I won’t spoil their fun by allowing what a popular ex-Edo lawmaker calls ‘odoriferous saga cum gargantuan saga’ to take the shine of their victory. I won’t allow the Buhari-Osinbajo government to take the centre stage of this piece.
May was a month of Chelsea triumph. It was also a month when Nigeria’s Defence Minister, Bashir Magashi, delivered a ‘heartless’ speech at the funeral of former COAS, Lt.-Gen Ibrahim Attahiru. May was the month when the new ‘Aide-de-Camp’ to the Aide-De-Camp of Governor Nasir El-Rufai was unveiled and the incoming First Lady got into a fresh ‘thug’ of war.
May was the month when the parents of kidnapped Greenfield University students paid N180m and bought many motorcycles to secure the release of their children from kidnappers.
May Buhari and Osinbajo take the lessons of Chelsea victory beyond May.
Facebook: @tunde odesola
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