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On Friday the 9th of December, 2016, a bewildered nation woke up to read the news that the Nigerian government did not expect its own team, the Super Falcons, to win the African Women’s Cup of Nations.
Said the minister of sport, Solomon Dalung, “don’t forget that nobody even knew the team will emerge victorious. If we were confident they will emerge victorious, all the federation would have done is to plan for the process of participation and entitlement.”
Nigerians have already come to expect such pedestrian speech from a minister who once said our footballers were too hungry to go for the World Cup, but we never expected the beret wearing minister to go so low to prove to us that he is bereft of ideas. We already knew that!
Going into the AWCoN, the Super Falcons were the defending champions and even beyond that they had won seven of the last AWCoNs consecutively.
Now it beats my imagination that the minister would say that he and his ministry did not expect a team that had already won the seven previous editions to win the eighth!
That would be like saying you did not expect your eight month pregnant wife to deliver even though she had lived with you for seven unbroken months of pregnancy prior to the eighth month.
I began pondering about the statement from the minister of sports and I cannot believe that a member of the Executive Council of the Federation can operate from such a low mentality.
The more I thought of his words, the more I believed that the minister was not speaking literally. I am beginning to suspect he was speaking in parables.
In my opinion, Dalung’s speech is a classic case of what is called projection in psychology. The federal government is projecting itself onto the Falcons. The Buhari administration never expected to win in 2015 and so they never prepared to govern. That is why it took the President eight months after his victory to pick ministers like Solomon Dalung.
Even more annoying is the threat to ban the girls for life for complaining about their unpaid allowances. Thank God that the public backlash to this information caused the Nigerian Football Federation to quickly deny such madness!
And do you know the funny thing? Around the period Mr. Dalung was making his callous statement, President Paul Biya of Cameroon was hosting the Indomitable Lionesses, Cameroon’s team to the AWCoN, whom the Super Falcons beat, to emerge victorious. President Paul Biya’s office released photos of him taking selfies with the girls and celebrating them.
The Indomitable Lionesses were celebrated, wined and dined and paid all their dues, while the Super Falcons were denigrated, used and dumped and owed all their dues!
And an even funnier thing is that a Nigerian state governor admitted on tape that he paid killer herdsmen not to kill his own citizens again yet the Nigerian state has no money to pay the victorious Super Falcons! Obviously, the Falcons are in the wrong business!
Some of them may now cast their mind back to the President’s statement that his wife belongs to his ‘other rooms’. Maybe he is punishing the Super Falcons for having the audacity not to be be confined to the ‘other rooms’!
Again, let me remind the All Progressive Congress led federal government that propaganda can get you to power, but only proper agenda can make you a success while in power!
Beyond the sloganeering and mouthing of the word ‘change’, what is the agenda of this government? What is their policy?
What has happened to the Super Falcons is merely one in a series of behaviors that betray the fact that a government which spent its electioneering period painting its predecessor as clueless is itself beyond clueless.
A government that says it wants to attract foreign investment and yet dilly dallies on its economic policy. In a dizzying roller coaster ride of unpredictability, the government first pegged, then floated then acted as if it did not float the currency. Next it began arresting Bureau de Change operators, then it bans what it had unbanned and unbanned what it had banned and all the while foreign investors are watching Nigeria with amazement!
If anybody is telling the President that foreign investors are going to come to Nigeria under this present system of policy uncertainty, that person is his worst enemy.
The fact that the President is using the very same policies that failed him so woefully in 1984 in 2016 is proof positive that some people grow old but they do not grow up!
Look at former President Olusegun Obasanjo, a former military dictator like President Buhari, who also found his way back to power as a civilian leader.
The same Obasanjo who as a military president nationalized British Petroleum in 1979 is the same President Obasanjo who privatized it and sold it off as African Petroleum to Femi Otedola in his second coming.
Why did President Obasanjo make a 360 degree turn from nationalization to privatization? Because, as an intellectual, he knows that times change and people must change with the times. President Buhari badly needs a tutorial on this principle!
Rather than focus his attention on the challenges he is facing, the President is hell bent on coming up with new and creative ways to blame his predecessors especially former President Jonathan.
Real leaders do not blame. They correct what went wrong and prevent it from reoccurring. Blaming signifies helplessness. As the late Maya Angelou once said ‘if you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude to it.’
President Buhari can take charge or make blame but he cannot do both! The more he blames his predecessors, the more he surrenders his authority to them. Jonathan must be very influential if eighteen months after leaving office he is still the talk on the lips of President Buhari.
In America meanwhile, Donald Trump has not even been sworn in but he has already turned his attention away from Hillary. eighteen months after President Buhari is still on Jonathan! How can the nation move forward when the leader has not moved on?
If President Muhammadu Buhari and anyone else thinks what Dr. Goodluck Jonathan did by conceding when votes had not yet been fully tallied was not remarkable, they only have to look to The Gambia. There were grounds for the man fondly known as GEJ to contest the result. The margin by which he lost was not much (15 million to 13 million). Yet he loved his country enough to chose to concede! And while I am at this, let me say to Mr. Yahya Jammeh: please take a cue from Dr. Jonathan and spare your nation bloodshed and turmoil. Do not be like those who believe that elections are only fair if they win.
The interesting thing about the Jammeh episode is that President Buhari is, as I write this, in Gambia to urge Jammeh to accept defeat. Does President Buhari himself know how to accept defeat? Three times he was defeated and three times he refused to concede. What will he tell Jammeh when Jammeh reminds him of his history? What moral authority does he have to preach to Jammeh? Even if he says 2003 and 2007 were rigged, what about 2011 which was one of our most transparent elections? Did he concede? By going to Gambia, President Buhari only strengthens Yahya Jammeh’s argument.
Look at the behavior of INEC under President Buhari. I daresay that Gambia’s electoral commission is by far better than Buhari’s INEC.
As Junaid Mohammed said in July, “Buhari decided to nominate his own niece, the daughter of his elder sister- Amina Zakari. She has been there; when Jega left, Buhari was determined to make her chairman, it was because of the massive backlash that he dropped the idea like hot potatoes. As we are talking today, that woman is a national commissioner which means she is one of the principal election umpires. Throughout my reading of history, political science and social sciences generally, I have never heard of any dictator or any tyrant under any system of government whether totalitarian or fascist, appointing his own niece to conduct elections in which he was either a party or going to be a party to.”
And this same President Buhari went to Gambia to ask Jammeh to concede to the winner. I just hope Jammeh has not heard of Junaid Mohammed because if he copies what Mr. Mohammed just described above then we would be having another Mugabe on our hands.
But on a serious note, the Super Falcons won AWCoN. Has Nigeria conceded their victory allowance to them? Even the money that the President spent flying to Gambia would have been better spent paying the Falcons.
As I conclude, let me remind Nigerians of the Law of Attraction. A leader attracts subordinates who are like him. Look at the people that President Obasanjo attracted around him, look at the people President Jonathan attracted and now look at those around President Buhari.
Do you feel confident that Nigerian sports will thrive under Solomon Dalung? Let me ask you a honest question, if you had a poultry, would you hire Solomon Dalung as your poultry manager? Yet this is the best hand that President Muhammadu could find to run our sports ministry after eights months of searching! Alas!
I could say the same thing about finance, agriculture, science and technology, heck all of them. But the truth is that the buck stops at the table of the President!
Omokri is the founder of the Mind of Christ Christian Center in California, author of Shunpiking: No Shortcuts to God and Why Jesus Wept and the host of Transformation with Reno Omokri.