The recent demise of Coach Stephen Okechukwu Keshi and Amodu Shaibu hurts so much because of the contribution of these outstanding achievers in Nigerian football and what the teeming football fans stand to miss from these icons. What hurts me so much is the manner in which the nation celebrates iconic Nigerians when it makes little or no sense to them anymore.
This ugly situation continues to repeat itself in our national life and this value system and culture will not encourage and promote nationalism and patriotism in our National polity. What beats my imagination remain the manner in which these people who were owed salaries, who could not eat or live well and were treated unjustly out of their positions as chief coaches of the national team are now being given national burial and recognition.
Coach Amodu was never good enough to coach the national team at the world cup but was good enough to qualify Nigeria for the same intercontinental event twice. Stephen Keshi won the nations cup after almost two (2) decades of not getting to win it against all odds amidst treats of sack and football politics yet we never thought he can do it again for the nation. We cannot forget the sad story of Pa Benedict E. Odiase who designed the national flag and Pa Michael Taiwo Akinkunmi who wrote our national anthem.
Such symbolic contributions to the Nigerian state and people were taken for granted in a manner that shows the value system disorder of Nigeria. The fact that we reward people too late or don’t even reward them gives me cause for concern and worry.
The cases of Sam Loco Efe, the late ace comedian-actor, Anthony Enahoro who moved the first motion for Nigerian Independence in 1957, not to talk of legendary Rashidi Yekini and of the painful sacrifice of Doctor Stella Ameyo Adadevoh during ebola menace and more that have been victims of this recurrent ugly trend. Another disturbing trend is showmanship of honour without keeping to the promise. We have seen and heard victorious national teams begging and pleading with the government to always fulfill their either house or cash promises that never see the light of the day. The attitude of giving honour to people when honour means little or nothing to them is painful and disturbing.
The latest episode of 1985 Nigerian under 20 flying eagles’ heroes being remembered and honoured by President Muhammadu Buhari in 2016 after three (3) decades when all members of the team are old and a few dead is a typical example of belated celebration of heroes which is a clear indication of value system disorder. The fact that no other leader saw the reason to fulfill the promise the military head of state gave till he has to seize the opportunity of coming back to government after 3 decades shows lack of continuity in our system which shows another aspect of value system disorder in the Nigerian state.
I will highlight three major ways in which this ugly trend has been occurring in Nigeria and expose the evil inherent in it as well as the attendant consequences. The first is remembering and valuing of national heroes only when they are dead, the second trend is when they are old and barely enjoy the honour or when they sick towards death then we remember they once existed, the third is promising and never keeping to it. The evil in this is that instead of encouraging such acts in future we end up discouraging it and making the heroes to regret ever giving out their best for their nation.