When the Nigerian National Soccer team, the Super Eagles lost to pre-tournament favourities, the all-mighty Lionel Messi-inspired Argentine bionic ensemble 0-1, in the on-going FIFA World Cup in South Africa, June 12, this year, many celebrated the defeat, as a victory.
Sadly, that Group B, encounter took place on a day many Nigerians have grown to accept as a Cursed, good only, to commemorate Shame of anulment in 1993, when, after a novel option A-4 electoral process produced late Chief Moshood Abiola as winner of the general elections, then Military President Ibrahim Babangida threw “KAITA’, sorry spanner in the works of democratic reforms Nigerians needed, to be relevant in the global comity of states.
It was on such a day that the Super Eagles played their first match and naturally should not be expected to chase away the roaming ghost of June 12 but with this year’s off the calendar, many had hoped that the Super Eagles’ next encounter with the ageing Greek national would be wrecked very easily by Nigerians. Why Not?
Afterall, in the Greek’s first encounter with South Korea. the little less-than-normal heights had triumphed over Greece with a shocking 2-0 victory thus giving Nigerians the hope that a duel with the Greek national soccer team would be a walk-over. It should have been really, only that a ‘Kaita’ was thrown in the works, which left the hitherto hopeless ancient warriors clear victors by two goals to Nigeria’s one, after spending a little of the first and all of the second 45 minutes with just 10 men against 11, determined Greeks.
The Super Eagles prosecuted that day’s battle with an admixture of men from a bad maternity and vibrant old men in youth garbs, lacking the speed, the cohesion and the discipline to demolish the old Greek war horses. They appeared to be tarrying along well any how and earned a goal from Kalu Uche before a “KAITA’ was thrown in the works of the Super Eagles pre-earned victory.
Kaita, a supposed replacement for the ever smiling skillfull and mercurial former Nigerian captain and mid-field maestro, Jay Jay Okocha suddenly saw the soccer encounter to be a war against the Greeks and attacked an opponent outside the pitch, where, the player was set to have a throw-on as decided by the officiating centre referee. Kaita knew that rule 001 of the tournament says you don’t retaliate whatsoever or you get straight red card, which will naturally jeopardise not only the chances of his country Nigeria but also the African Continent’s that badly requires more future World Cup chances, which only impressive performance of African teams can guarantee.
For that singular indiscretion, grounded in violent temperament, lack of discipline and pure unsportsmanly conduct, the Nigerian national soccer team was reduced to 10 men, that already lacked a withholding mid-fielder, a dependable attack and a strong defence required to stop the raging Greeks.
In the end, from a goal up, the Super Eagles fell 1-2 to a little fancied Greek side and sat comfortably at the rear of Group B which also has group leaders, Argentina, South Korea and Greece.
Interestingly, the largely under estimated weeping boy of the group, which had lost 0-2 to the Koreans, succeeded in pummeling Nigerians 2-1, thanks to ‘KAITA’s indiscipline. Even so, as yet hopeful as ever, Nigerians are sure to defeat the Koreans, in their last group match, in hope that almighty Argentina will pummel Greece on the same day.
As it stands, Korea requires a draw with Nigeria to join Argentina. If the latter, with six points, having won Nigeria 1-0 and South Korea 4-1, also defeats Greece as permuted.
Yet Nigerians are hopeful that they would win South Korea with a long margin.
This hope is without the consideration that Nigeria’s Taye Taiwo, the left full back and his replacement Ichejile are suffering injuries while the supposed replacement of Okocha, that militant Kaita is ruled out entirely. Besides, there is no guarantee that the likes of Yakubu Ayegbeni, Joseph Yobo, John Utaka and Kanu Nwankwo among others recently took sprinting lessons from Jamaican 100 metres specialist Usain Bolt to match the speed of the Koreans, neither are their signs that the Super Eagles are better prepared to mark their opponents man-to-man, with a dependable mid-fielder, holding on to the ball, attract two or more opponents in defence before laying a tailored pass for the much needed lee way for positive results, as Jay Jay Okocha often did.
Yet hope, Nigerians must because the same guaranteed them a place for the show of shame which now places us on a tight rope against a team that flogged our nemesis Greece 2-0 in the opener of the Group games.
There must be somebody or indeed something to blame. The other time I blamed our loss to Argentina on June 12. Now what? KAITA?
A Sports enthusiast, Dr. Seyi Roberts painted the right colour of the shame slammed on Nigerians, when in his reaction to the violent indiscretion of Sani Kaita he said, ‘A new word has been added to the Dictionary, ‘KAITA’ meaning a man who single-handedly hinders the hopes of his country for reasons best known to him. ‘KAITA’ can be used in place of words like Jeopardise, Hinder, Sabotage, Disrupt, Antagonise and Upset etc. Examples are ‘Don’t Kaita what we have been building for two months, in one day” or “Don’t be a Kaita” etc.
Continuing, the vexed Dr. Roberts said, “I am sure all Nigerians saw and lamented Nigeria’s folly in fielding players of low intelligence and absolutely animal instincts! What the hell is a player like Kaita doing in the Super Eagles? Was it federal character or what? Footall 001 says you don’t retaliate whatsoever or you get a straight red, for God’s sake! Kaita messed up 150 million Nigerians. Lord have mercy.
Nigeria requires more than God’s mercy. We need a coach that, like Clemens Westerhoff will traverse the length and breadth of the country scouting for and conscripting young talents, assemble and nurture them for future tournaments,; a coach who will not be dictated to by the hawks in the Nigeria Football Association (NFF) who naturally benefit from the unused match victory bonus of the footballers and who decide which god-son or daughter must be included in the national squad for the juicy unknown details that naturally accrue thereto.
Otherwise, which magician can use barely two months to turn pregnant women into vibrant men worthy of mention in a World Cup like the one the world is following keenly in South Africa? What an unpatriotic Nigerian I can hear a spouse of an NFF millionaire curse, but truth is those still hoping that Nigeria will give true meaning to the over-flogged refrain that this is an African World Cup should just forget it. Kaita, merely gave Nigerians a good excuse. Also, I view Vincent Enyeama’s complaint over the use of Jubilani, the official football for the tournament, after his emergence as Man Of The Match in the encounters with both Argentina and Greece as, another face saving antic.
No doubt, Enyeama, Nigeria’s goal tender is in a class of his own, and with 12 more committed others like him would have made a marked difference but the same football used and with which he emerged, man of both matches could not be the reason for Kaita’s indiscretion nor the failure of the Super Eagles to realise that the best form of defence to protect their one goal advantage, even with 10 men, was attack.
My Agony is that even carpenters are being forced to work Mathematics that they are hardly used to, if for nothing else to keep Nigeria’s hope alive because that the same scenario that played out during the qualifiers and which led to the Super Eagles’ qualification for the mundial. And then what?
Nigerian’s soccer pundits must get off their high horses of Malaria dreams and return to the basics that today sees Ghana and Germany as pride of all, doing well without their facially presumed best, and work from today for the next World Cup.
Retaining the Swedish technical adviser, Lagerback or not is not the contention here, but Nigeria should set new targets, choose the vehicles for such success and work towards it now. South Africa is certainly not the forum for the crop of aged, uninspirational, pregnant and immobile Eagles that are everything, but Super and hence cannot be expected to spring the type surprises we seek.
A ‘Kaita’ in the works is not the whole problem, it is only a part of the rot in our football administration.
PDP Achievements’ve Killed APC, Others In Rivers -Wike
The Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, has stated that the achievements of the Peoples Democratic Party-led administration have killed other political parties in the state.
Wike, made this assertion during the reception organised by the Rivers State chapter of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) to welcome thousands of APC members back into PDP.
Leaders of the defectors included the former Director of Finance and Administration of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC), Dr Henry Ogiri; APC South-South Administrative Officer, Gloria Boma; Mr. Lolo Ibieneye and Alhaji Hassan Douglas.
The governor asserted that prior to 2015, the APC had promised to transform the country, fix the East-West Road, and provide good governance to Nigerians.
But, on the contrary, he said the APC has continued to give excuses for its colossal failure after it orchestrated the unfortunate conspiracy to remove President Goodluck Jonathan from office.
“Are things better today? So, why do you allow people to tell you lies. How long can you continue to listen to the lies of the All Progressives Congress? They have nothing for Nigerians. It is unfortunate that there was a conspiracy to remove a Niger Delta person as President”, Wike noted.
The governor, who bemoaned the marginalisation of Rivers State, regretted that several years after the Federal Government awarded the N120billion Bodo-Bonny Road, it has failed to provide its counterpart funding, allowing only the Nigerian Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) to finance the project.
“Look at: since they started the Bonny-Bodo Road, what has happened? As we speak, the Federal Government has not released their counterpart funding for that road. Now, NLNG said let us do it, and then, deduct it from the tax we are going to pay to the Federal Government. Is it how they have been doing in other states?”, he asked.
The governor noted that ahead to the 2023 general election, the APC has, again, started making false promises to construct a University of Transport, develop a deep sea port and industrial park in the state.
“By next year, political activities will kick-start. When will they build infrastructure again? Somebody will come and tell you people, Federal Government has approved industrial pack; they have approved deep sea port in Bonny”, he said.
Wike said that the PDP provides the only hope for Nigerians, and congratulated the defectors for their courage to return to the party.
He assured them that they would be accorded the same respect like every other party.
“I thank you for this bold step taken to join the PDP. Only a wicked man who does not like good things will not see what we are doing in Port Harcourt. With our achievements, we have killed any party that wants to raise its head. This is done by your support. On May 27, 2015, somebody said we can’t pay salary. Today, we are not talking about payment of salary, we are employing 5,000 youths into the state civil service”, he said.
The Rivers State Chairman of the PDP, Amb Desmond Akawor noted that no local government in the state was without any development project by Governor Wike.
According to him, this has continued to endear the people to the PDP.
Akawor, who gave each leader of the defectors umbrella and party membership cards, said the returnees were convinced that the PDP was a party that believes in good governance and means well for Rivers people.
Speaking on behalf of the defectors, Dr. Henry Ogiri, said they were motivated to return to the PDP because of the quality of people-oriented projects embarked upon by the governor.
He promised, on behalf of the others, to be loyal to PDP and work to ensure that APC does not exist anymore in the state.
2021 Budget Provides Gratuities For Retirees, RSG Confirms
The Rivers State Government says it has made provision for the payment of pensions and gratuities for state retirees in the 2021 budget.
The state Commissioner for Finance, Barrister Isaac Kamalu, who disclosed this at a one-day public consultation on the 2021 Budget organised by the ministry in Port Harcourt, yesterday, also said that the ongoing recruitment of 5,000 youths into the State Civil Service was captured in the budget.
Kamalu, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary, Rivers State Ministry of Budget and Economic Planning, Mrs Titilola Cline, at the event, said the state government would revive the Rivers State Micro Finance Agency with a view to ensuring that young entrepreneurs in the state get access to credit facilities to finance their businesses.
Another key focus of the budget, according to the commissioner, includes improving the agricultural sector through the distribution of seedlings and other farm inputs to farmers while the cassava processing plant at Afam would employ 3,000 youths.
Kamalu also said that all regional hospitals would be properly equipped to deliver quality health care services to the people of the state.
Also, in a keynote address entitled: “Budget And Realities of Covid-19”, the commissioner said that the Covid-19 pandemic dealt a terrible blow on the implementation of the 2020 budget.
He further said that the Rivers State Development Plan adopted in 2017 was meant to better the lives of the citizenry, while efforts were also being made to boost the internally generating revenue profile of the state in the upcoming year.
The commissioner said that time has come for the people to play active role in the realization of the goal of the budget by not only investing but patronizing locally-made goods in the state, adding that by so doing, unemployment would be reduced, while more money would be ploughed into the coffers of the government.
Kamalu described the forum with stakeholders as an evidence of transparency of what the government was doing as far as budget preparations were concerned, assuring that imputes of key stakeholders would be reflected in the budget.
A cross section of participants, who spoke at the forum, described the provision of money for pension and gratuities for retirees of the state civil service as a welcome development.
They also called for more attention to be given to the agricultural sector, while urbanization programme should be extended across the 23 local government areas of the state to decongest Port Harcourt.
They also commended the government for the provision of employment opportunities for 5,000 youths into the state civil service.
FG Owes 3,504 Housing Contractors N69.9bn -Fashola
The Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, yesterday, said his ministry owes 3,504 local contractors in the housing sector N69.9billion.
Fashola disclosed this when he appeared before the National Assembly Committee on Housing to defend his ministry’s 2021 budget proposal.
The minister sought the assistance of the lawmakers on how to defray the liabilities because the N76.4billion allocated to the ministry in the 2021 budget would be grossly inadequate to execute its proposed 186 projects across the country.
Fashola asked for understanding of the lawmakers to assist defraying the liabilities.
He said 2,601 of the contractors being owed N33.9billion executed zonal intervention projects popularly referred to as constituency projects.
He urged the lawmakers to identify the affected projects in their constituencies that had attracted huge liabilities and pick them as their special intervention programmes for 2021 instead of proposing new ones.
However, lawmakers rejected the idea and asked the minister to propose a separate budget for the purpose of paying the debts owed contractors that handled the building of schools under the special intervention programmes.
Fashola said: “As pointed out, if you look at page six of my presentation the big ticket items there is this housing project of N30billion. The next one is special projects.
“What is special project? Your constituents? Because in Nigeria, we don’t feel comfortable when we are discussing in public.
“Special projects are your constituents and those are the people on whose behalf you are here.
“They are the primary schools, the mathematics centres, the skills centres…that is what it is. So, we have to make a choice.
“And that is why we are saying instead of starting new ones next year let’s look for possible solution.
“Let’s behave like the very smart people that we are, and so, instead of starting a new one next year, let’s use next year’s appropriation to finish this so that we can pay those small contractors and there will not be default in the system.
“That is why we are here. But if we choose to say no, it is Ministry of Works’ problem, it is not Ministry of Works’ problem. It is Nigeria’s problem.”
At this point, Chairman, Senate Committee on Housing, Sam Egwu (Ebonyi North), interjected, saying that money should be appropriated specifically for completing such projects.
Egwu said: “On this issue we have said on these areas that you appropriate it in the budget so that the money will be meant specifically for completing the projects and so that they don’t remain abandoned.
“Nobody is suggesting that you abandon it. We are just saying that instead of using the money for the current year to pay liabilities, you appropriate money for it from the beginning so that money for that will be used to clear outstanding debts.
“I am not trying to stop what you are saying but it is not necessary for us to dwell on something we have already got a possible solution to.”
Fashola said his ministry would concentrate on the completion of the 2,140 units of houses under the National Housing Programme spread across 34 states and the Federal Capital Territory.
He also said that the ministry has plans to complete the ongoing federal secretariats in Anambra, Bayelsa, Ekiti, Nasarawa, Osun and Zamfara.
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