LESSONS IN GOLDEN EAGLETS’ VICTORY
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
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
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
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.