Saturday, November 9, 2013


10th November, 2013



Nigeria’s Under 17 National Team, the Golden Eaglets, defeated its Mexican counterpart in the final leg of the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2013 on Friday, 8th November, 2013 in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. The Golden Eaglets thus became the first team ever to win the FIFA U-17 World Cup four times having won it in 1985, 1993, and 2007.  In all, Nigeria scored 26 goals in seven matches and conceded 5 only.

Not only that, the team also won the FIFA Fair Play award for its sportsmanship and approach to the game. The team’s highest goalscorer, Kelechi Iheanacho, emerged as the competition’s most outstanding player by winning the Adidas Golden Ball. He also won the Adidas Silver Boot as the competition’s second highest goalscorer with six goals, one behind the top scorer Valmir Berisha of Sweden. Goalkeeper Dele Alampasu also won the Adidas Golden Glove as the best goalkeeper of the tournament.

These laurels can be attributed to good preparation by the team’s handlers, vision of its leadership, sacrifice from both the handlers and the players and, above all, the spirit of unity among the players.

The outcome of this global tournament has revealed that religion and ethnicity are parochial barometers in choosing who leads Nigeria as well as in assessing their performance. What really matters is delivery, transparency, probity and accountability. If the combinations of Kelechi Ihenacho, Awoniyi, Chidera Ezeh, Dele Alampasu Musa Yahaya, Muhammed the captain, Abdulahi Alfa and goalkeeper can put aside religious and ethnic sentiments, what stops Aso Rock from treating Christians and Muslims equally in all matters?

The fact that the Golden Eaglet team consists of Christians and Muslims, Hausa, Ibo and Yoruba who worked in unison sends a strong and indubitable signal to Nigeria’s religious and traditional leaders, urging them to close ranks.

The young Nigerians who donned the nation’s battle fatigue in Abu Dhabi have demonstrated the fact that unity is what we need to move this country forward. They have also shown us that to achieve unity, there must be social justice, equal rights and rule of law.

It is crystal clear from the outcome of the universal sporting exercise that Nigeria can still get it right if we do it right. We can get it right if we stop putting square pegs in round holes. We must therefore stop the recycling of leadership or its rotation among the capitalist bourgeoisie. This does not necessarily mean forceful seizure of wealth from the rich as posited by the communists. Those who obtain their wealth through legitimate means must be allowed to enjoy the fruits of their labour while they guide the country to the path of greatness using their immense experience in business.

The body language of these young heroes has communicated an important message to Nigerians: that our youths possess great potentials and should be given the opportunity to showcase their various skills in different fields. The feat achieved by these young boys has exposed the hypocrisy of successive Nigerian leadership. It has revealed that Nigeria’s hope lies in its youths.

Yet in order to bring out the best in the young ones, they must be given the best education to meet international best practices. But whereas the United Nations Economic, Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recommends that 26% of the budget of every country should be set aside for education, Nigeria has always fallen tragically short, particularly from the 70s.

The failure to fund the universities properly based on the recommendation of UNESCO has robbed the nation of the much needed manpower to turn around Nigeria’s fortune. It was a great disservice to the young ones. Yet today it is this same oppressed, undernourished, under-funded and highly deprived young ones, the Golden Eaglets, who have lifted the banner of Nigeria to high heavens in far away Abu Dhabi and our leaders had no qualms sending an allegedly overbloated 250-strong Federal Government delegation after the meal was cooked and ready!

This is one meal our leaders cannot beat their chests to claim its preparation. The past and present leaders should therefore bury their heads in shame at the monumental degradation in the education sector and the Federal Government must turn repentant and attend to the needs of the sector with immediate effect.

Professor Ishaq Akintola,


Muslim Rights Concern (MURIC)


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