OPINIONSPORTS

Rascality is not Activism… The Nigerian Female Football Team’s Situation

By Akowe John-Duke ‘Selime

Nigeria is the most populous black nation on Earth, with citizens known for their vibrant and friendly energy expressed through diverse creative expressions. Nigeria is a country misted up with a lot of zealous nationals both home and away. We have had junctures or circumstances where Nigerians put on show a variety of fanatical attitudes just because they feel an irresistible affection for their country.

Every now and then, we hear in the nationwide news and follow up stories on Social Media platforms where Nigerians are been observed carrying out their passionate dealings for their dearly loved and darling mother country. Some go over the board and others just go about it reasonably. Even when they go about their patriotic activities, they end up soiling it with rascality.

Can rascality be likened to activism? Have these over-enthusiastic actions and inactions of Nigerians paid off for us as a nation? Have they helped promote the national identity in any way possible?

The contingent of the nine-time African champions – The Nigerian National Female Football Team, “The Super Falcons”; on Sunday arrived in Vienna, the Austrian capital, for an 8-day training camp as part of preparations for some upcoming games, notably the Aisha Buhari Invitational Women’s Football Tournament, with Lagos scheduled to host the Tournament in September this year. The twenty-six players, alongside technical and administrative staff were subjected to a tirade of abuse from an obviously and apparently irate Nigerian in Vienna, Austria.

This jingoistic angry Nigerian was fuming that they could represent Nigeria regardless of all the human rights mistreatments recorded by the administration of Muhammadu Buhari; not also passing over the unremitting assassinations and take into custody of nonviolent demonstrators in the nation. And now I am asking if that was the best way to go about his activism? Why assault innocent Nigerians who consider their actions convincing in excess of something the angry Nigerian man holds against the Buhari-led administration? That the current government is making Nigeria tough for Nigerians doesn’t mean Nigerians shouldn’t be proud of their fatherland.

We are not all proud of what is happening in Nigeria. This is one of the worst times of being a Nigerian. I mean, there is a double-digit inflation persisting in the country. Imagine Nigerians getting poorer by the day. The Nigerian economy is collapsing, that’s if it hasn’t collapsed to level zero already. The middle-class Nigerians are lamenting on how the situation has rendered them poorer. The high cost of living has become almost unbearable for Nigerians. Nigerians can no longer meet their basic needs. Food has become a luxury, as feeding in Nigeria today is not easy. Workers are unable to save because the income is not corresponding with the astronomic high prices of items in the market. The truth remains that the current state of the country is not palatable anymore. Nothing interesting is happening within the Nigerian space. It is so difficult to cope in the country now. But should we run away from our motherland? Should we be less patriotic? 

Even traders are complaining of poor patronages from customers. Let’s say there are a few with this money to spend, take a trip to the market and you would see that your money isn’t actually enough. Just see in your mind’s eye going to the market with a considerable sum of money, but you end up asking yourself what you bought for the reason that your shopping handbag appears to be bare. You will buy something today and two days later, the price of the same items has gone up significantly. The galloping increase in food prices in the country is making everyone fall sick. Countries experience inflation, but what we are experiencing is beyond inflation.However, should Nigerians kill themselves over a failing government? Should Nigerians now go against their pledge of being faithful and loyal to their beloved country? Should Nigerians then pick rascality over activism?  

Many families are in miserable pennilessness. I know a woman who some time ago affirmed that she had to cut out fish from their diet since a piece of fish now costs above a thousand naira. Let’s say that family unit has five people to feed on the stipulated or traditional three-square meals every day, how long will one fish last them for the family consumption? Let’s also mull over the increase of a rubber of beans in the market. We are not at war, yet a rubber of beans in the market has risen from nine hundred naira to two thousand eight hundred naira or even more than that price. One sachet of water that hitherto sold for five naira only now sells for twenty naira, while four sachets sell for fifty naira only. Garri that used to be considered anunderprivileged’s food is now one of the most treasured commodities in homes; even a crate of eggs costs almost two thousand naira. I bought a loaf of bread the other day at the rate of five hundred naira. In all of these, salaries and incomes have remained inert. What happens when all earnings finish by the first week of the month? It is only God that is sustaining Nigerians.

A lady who was effectively delivered of a bouncing and hale and hearty baby boy once mentioned to me how she had to stop buying diapers because it has become a luxury; that she had now made a decision to use handkerchiefs and napkins which is cheaper and reusable for her and her baby. She confirmed that the prices went twice-over, that’s why she had to discard the use of it and that now the baby joins the others to eat rice, beans because of the increase in price of diapers. It is an unfortunate state of affairs for everyone who calls himself or herself a Nigerian and for all who live in this geographical location called Nigeria. Things are really difficult for Nigerians living in Nigeria. At this point Nigeria as a country needs serious interventions and not someone who would come from nowhere to verbally assault or engage in calling the Super Falcons of Nigeria names because they are representing their fatherland.

Nigeria is currently confronted with myriads of challenges which is rapidly stagnating the development and progress of the nation’s economy. One of the most piercing problems is that ofinsecurity which has labeled Nigeria as repulsive in the international community. Are our leaders concerned about that repulsive identity? Till present, the government efforts toward this challenge have not recorded substantial outcomes. The level of insecurity in Nigeria is unacceptable for a government that hammered on the security of lives and properties of Nigerians when voted into power. What do we have after six years, a nation where citizens can’t even sleep with their eyes properly closed. We have a nation where farmers can’t go to their farmlands to cultivate their crops in peace and without fear of the deadly Fulani herders.  We have a nation where states that are known to be the “food baskets of the nation” have no food to even sustain themselves not to talk of the nation at large. We have a nation where commuters travel on our roads with their hearts in their mouths for fear of being kidnapped by hoodlums. We have a nation where security operatives are even more afraid for their lives than the civilians. Should we still say “we are ashamed to represent Nigeria as a nation in the international and national fronts”?          

No doubt, Nigerians have been surviving by the grace of God Almighty. Even if I condemn the action of that angry Nigeria man in Vienna, Austria; I know that Nigeria isn’t worth nothing anymore. We need a government with a human face. We need a government that will do the needful. We need a government that would listen to the cry of the worried masses. We need a government that would cater for the welfare of the poor people around the country. We need a government that sees and understands the plight of the poor.  We need a government that Nigerians can be proud of anywhere and anytime. Not a government that would pay deaf ears to the problems and challenges of the people that elected them into office. I am not proud of our leaders. But I am proud to be a Nigerian even amidst these prevailing circumstances in the nation. With the right leaders in office; it would be better someday, somehow.         

Fr. Akowe John-Duke is a priest of the Catholic Diocese of Auchi, Auchi, Edo State, Nigeria.

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