Democratic Socialist Movement

For Struggle, Solidarity and Socialism in Nigeria

By - DSM




The victory of Nigeria at the 2013 All Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Championship in South Africa is one the veritable evidences that nothing is wrong with Nigerian personality. Globally, Nigerians have excelled in many fields of endeavour in the face of monumental failure of the thieving capitalist ruling elite. This victory of Super Eagles, the senior national football team, indeed is a huge moment of relief for vast majority of Nigerians who had not had anything to gladden their heart about the country despite its huge natural and human resources. They wake up daily to socio-economic nightmare and atmosphere of cheerlessness. Television, radio and newspapers are daily awash with reports and commentaries on monumental corruption, bombing, kidnapping and ethno-religious violence, all triggered by failure of governance; neo-liberal capitalist attacks on living and working conditions of the working people, etc.

Indeed, the success of the Super Eagle is a triumph of will power over adversity borne out of the failure of the government. That it took the so-called giant of Africa with a population of 170 million 19 years to win the Nation Cup underscores the colossal problem with Nigeria sport. This fact must not be lost to the euphoria of the victory. Just recently, Nigeria performed so woefully at the 2012 London Olympics that it won no medal. To play the qualifiers to the AFCON, the football administrators had to travel around country searching for a suitable football pitch. The multi-million dollar National Stadium Abuja which hosted Under 17 World Cup in 2009 had been taken over by giant weeds and shrubs by 2012.

The crucial contribution of five home-based players to the success of Super Eagle shows a lot of talents and potentials among players who ply their trade in the local league. But this should not be used to gloss over the monumental crisis of the Nigeria Premier League which is one of the most poorly organized championships in Africa. As of the end of February, 2012/2013 session, which has long crossed the half line in Europe, has not commenced in Nigeria! Besides, the players are poorly paid and do not get sign-on fees more than a year after they have joined a football club. The issue of non-payment of sign-on fees forced the players of the Sunshine Stars of Akure, Ondo state to embark on a strike before their CAF Champions League semi-final first leg clash against Al Ahly of Egypt last year. In a vast country without efficient rail system players are made to travel by road every week, sometime spending 24 hours on the road, to honour a football match.

All this explains why Nigerian players who do not get clubs in Western Europe do not mind going to the backwater leagues of Europe and less glamorous leagues in Far East like Vietnam where the pays and conditions are much better. Some of them out of desperation to showcase the talents outside Nigeria end up being the victims of shylock and ruthless football agents.

Besides, sports development at grassroots is almost non-existent. The underfunding and capitalist neo-liberal attack on public education has led to mushrooming of private schools most of which are without playgrounds and sports facilities to discover and develop talents. Even in the public schools sport facilities have decayed. This explains why Nigerian schools no longer produce sport talents unlike in the past.

Instead of investing on sport development, the capitalist politicians are only splashing cash on the victorious players and waiting for another fictitious circumstance of success. Public resources must be invested on building and development of sport facilities at national, state, schools and communities levels to discover and develop talents. Otherwise, Nigeria will continue to falter and wait endlessly for success until mother luck smiles on the country again. It should be however stressed to ensure judicious spending and mitigate corruption rife with sport management the public investment in sports must be put under open democratic control of workers, sport practitioners, relevant professionals and communities.