By Emmanuel Onwubiko
Things are truly not looking good all around us in Nigeria and the signals are shining as bright as the sun and the facts showing how tragic things have degenerated to in Nigeria are piercing through the consciences of conscientious minded Nigerians like the sword of Damocles. Things have fallen Apart in Nigeria, as prophetically affirmed by the legendary writer of the blessed memory Professor Chinua Achebe who wrote the iconic book titled THINGS FALL APART.
Today being the last day of the month of November when small employers of labour like this writer who runs a small media writing business, are statutorily obliged to pay our employees their legitimately earned wages, I sat in a corner of a coffee shop somewhere in Garki II, and spent over thirty minutes of waiting for the waitress to serve my hot cup of Cappuccino coffee, in deep thinking about a lot of things.
One of those thoughts that flashed through my contemplative mind was how so fast Nigeria has become or is about imploding as a failed State. This reminds me of the other books of Chinua such as NO LONGER AT EASE. Things, as it were, are no longer at ease in our contemporary Nigeria. NO LONGER AT EASE is a 1960 novel done by the globally acclaimed author Professor Chinua Achebe. The book is about an Igbo man named OKONKWO, who leaves his village for an education in Great Britain and then a job in the Nigerian colonial civil service, but is conflicted between his African culture and Western lifestyle and ends up collecting a bribe. Our own present day existential situation is no longer at ease on multidimensional ways which would be elaborated in the following paragraphs.
Even by the admission of public office holders at the National Bureau of statistics, Central Bank of Nigeria, the thinking is that inflationary trends just like the widespread absolute poverty have ballooned out of control.
Aside from the new figure of 130 million multidimensionally poor Nigerians as I write, there is a much more Sinister signal that shows how badly Nigeria has been entrapped in the chains of poverty, insecurity and all other impurities that result from a collapse of governance. Most ordinary Nigerians are everywhere in chains.
To bring the above affirmation closer to reality, we need to analytically look at the ongoing Senior Football FIFA World Cup in Qatar in which Nigeria, reputed to be a giant footballing nation, could not qualify due to administrative bottlenecks and corruption.
The most annoying aspect of this absence of the Nigerian team at that World Cup is the fact that other European nations participating in that tournament are represented by international ly reputable professional footballers with Nigerian roots.
Jamal Musiala Karim Adeyemi is the 19 year old who represented both Germany and England at youth level, and eventually pledged his allegiance to the Germany national team for future games in February 2021. He represented Germany in UEFA EURO 2020. I will return to discuss this prodigy. But a recent media write up highlighted the numerous great footballing talents of Nigerian roots that are featuring in the ongoing World Cup and I will seize my poetic literally licence to get fuller citation of the analytical take on these players.
One is the players considered one of the best young football players in the world, Bukayo Saka’s aim in Qatar will include making amends for his penalty miss in the final of last year’s European Championship.
He is the winner of Arsenal’s Player of the Season award over the last two seasons, Saka heads to his first World Cup with more experience than many within his age bracket.
While he may have opted to play for England, his country of birth, Saka’s performance in the opening game thrilled a lot of Nigerians.
The 21-year-old scored a brace to help the Three Lions kick off their 2022 World Cup campaign on a blistering note on Monday, sending a bold statement as title contenders with a 6-2 win over Iran.
Born in London to Nigerian parents, Saka will hope to inspire England (through the group stage and challenge for another World title for England since 1966.) in their second match against the USA team on Friday at the Al Bayt Stadium.
Saka missed the decisive penalty as England lost the Euro 2020 final to Italy 16 months ago.
But the analyst said he has bounced back and justified Southgate’s call to start him ahead of Manchester City’s Phil Foden.
“I can’t describe the feeling, it is amazing. I am so happy and so proud. We got the win as well so it is a really special day,” Saka said after the Iran game.
As aforementioned, Jamal Musiala, Karim Adeyemi (Germany) is born in Germany to a Nigerian Yoruba father and German mother, Musiala was raised from the age of seven in England.
The 19-year-old represented both Germany and England at youth level, and eventually pledged his allegiance to the Germany national team for future games in February 2021, representing the side at UEFA Euro 2020.
The Bayern Munich wonderkid is one of the most gifted young players in the world with 17 caps for Germany at just 19.
After only playing a small part in Germany’s disappointing Euro 2020 campaign, Musiala could well be a regular starter under Hansi Flick in Qatar.
A media commentator said he was unable to inspire Germany to victory in their opening game against Japan despite starting from the kick off, Musiala’s talent cannot be questioned and he could be crucial to any height Germany attain in Qatar.
Another player of Nigeria descent representing the German national team in Qatar is Karim Adeyemi.
The youngster was born in Munich, Germany, to a Nigerian father and Romanian mother. He is a youth international for Germany, having represented the Germany under-16s, under-17s and under-21s.
Regarded as a generational talent, Adeyemi won the 2019 Fritz Walter award for the best youngster in Germany.
Only last year, the former Salzburg forward led Germany to victory at the UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
And fans will hope Adeyemi can help inspire another title triumph in Qatar, says the writer.
Next is Ugbo, Adekugbe (Canada).
Ike Ugbo and Sam Adekugbe made the final squad list for Canada for the 2022 World Cup and will both be hopeful of qualifying for the knockout stages despite losing their first game in Qatar.
Canada then lost 1-0 to Belgium on Wednesday night at the Ahmed bin Ali Stadium where Ugbo was an unused substitute, while Adekugbe came in for Richie Laryea in the 74th minute and showed some glimpse of class.
As observed, Canada dominated large portions of this Group F game but were wasteful in front of goal, particularly when Alphonso Davies saw a first-half penalty saved by Belgium keeper Thibaut Courtois.
Ugbo was born in Lewisham, Greater London, to Nigerian parents. He moved to Canada with his family when he was four or five which makes him eligible for the nation.
Ugbo earlier declared his intentions to star for Nigeria but later made a u-turn and decided that he was going to represent Canada instead.
Ugbo’s goal-scoring put him on the radar of multiple national teams. In September 2021, as Ugbo was beginning to find the back of the net with Genk on a new permanent deal in the Belgian first division, he publicly stated that he would represent Nigeria.
Ugbo then started the process of filing a one-time change of association from England to Nigeria which was necessary as he previously played competitive matches for England U17 national team.
However, the analyst wrote that the Chelsea academy graduate did not feel wanted and the whole eligibility process was hindered because neither the NFF nor then Super Eagles head Coach, Gernot Rohr reached out.
The other Nigerian-born player in the team, Adekugbe is a defender with Turkish Super Lig club, Hatayspor.
The said experienced defender, who plays as a left-back for Turkey’s Super Lig club Hatayspor, made the 26-player squad set to return — after decades away — to the much-anticipated international event next week in Qatar.
The 27-year-old is a veteran of Canada’s national team, having played 33 games with the side. His journey has taken him from minor soccer in Calgary, to Major League Soccer’s Vancouver Whitecaps and higher to Brighton & Hove Albion of the English Premier League, IFK Goteborg of Sweden’s Allsvenskan and on to the Norwegian top flight; the Eliteserien — with Vålerenga Fotball before joining Hatayspor in 2021.
Next is Manuel Akanji and Noah Okafor ( Switzerland).
The analyst observed that Swiss players of Nigerian descent Akanji and Okafor were in action for Switzerland in their 1-0 win over African side Cameroon in their Group F first game on Thursday at the Al Janoub Stadium.
Akanji was in the starting lineup and was impressive during the duration of the match as he helped Switzerland keep a clean sheet.
The 27-year-old defender who moved to Man City in the summer, having signed from Borussia Dortmund for £15million has been a standout performer.
The 22-year-old Okafor who plies his trade for Bundesliga side Red Bull Salzburg came in as a second-half substitute for Chicago Fire winger Xherdan Shaqiri in the 72nd minute and was commanding in the middle for the Swiss.
Another is Noah Okafor was born in Binningen, Switzerland, to a Nigerian father and a Swiss mother.
Okafor’s talent was reportedly spotted when he was with the Basel youth academy, and the forward had been a part of the Swiss youth system since the under-15s.
According to reports, the Salzburg winger made his debut for Switzerland in 2019. And his spot in Qatar was sealed last November when he scored a goal in the win over Bulgaria that secured automatic qualification for Switzerland to the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
Also born to a Swiss mother and a Nigerian father, Manuel Akanji could have been playing for the Super Eagles but the centre-back’s progression from the Swiss youth teams to the national side was completed in 2017.
And after grossing 43 international caps for the Red Crosses, Akanji is one of the most experienced heads in the Swiss camp in Qatar.
And the Manchester City defender will target an upgrade to the 2019 UEFA Nations League Finals, where his team finished fourth. Mpape plays for France but he has a Nigerian and Camerounian roots.
The thing is that one of Nigeria’s most respected former professional football player and columnist for newspapers on football Mr. Segun Odegbani did a fantastic piece in which he dissected the causative effects of the decline of football in Nigeria.
The erudite football columnist said:
“A change in football culture does not happen in a day. It takes time. Losing it also is a gradual progression in a Southern direction. That’s the catastrophe that has befallen Nigerian football in the past two decades, silently and steadily, in the hands of inexperienced leadership, to the point where the Super Eagles and clubs in the domestic league now play without a discernible style and organisation, the point where a Bruno Fernandes would have the audacity to describe Nigerian football as weak and of a low standard.
Segun Odegbami wrote also that Nigerian football needs to be rescued from the hands of those with limited knowledge and experience in the deep matters of the beautiful game.
New Sheriffs are required to restore the wandering ship, he said.
Here him: “They must come up with a plan and a strategy to get Nigerian football back on track. Too many technically limited leaders have led the country’s football astray for too long.”
Foreign coaches that do not know Nigeria football’s genesis and trajectory, who only understand the culture of European football and want to convert Nigerian football into a European brand, have only accelerated the destruction of the fabric and foundation of the rich traditions of Nigerian football as reinforced by the 1980s’ Brazilian project, Odegbami said and rightly so.
What we saw of the Eagles against Portugal shortly before Qatar 2022 is Nigerian football at its worst, destroyed by ignorant leaders – weak and of low standards. Bruno Fernandes is right after all. The problems can never be solved by outsiders but by ourselves for ourselves. The answer also lies here at home,” he concluded.
The tragedy of the Nigerian situation is that because there is no political leadership but opportunists that populate the corridorsofpower, good ideas such as those written by Segun Odegbami on how to fix back Nigeria Football where it should be on the global map, won’t be adopted.
One more thing is the exodus of trained professionals from Nigeria including our best doctors, teachers, Carpenters, plumbers and best information technology minds are leaving Nigeria in droves. Ironically, in the world of crimes, many ‘yahooyahoo’ boys and girls have left the shores of Nigeria.
This exodus is Ominous because what it means is that the rest of us are left behind in Nigeria who may be in need of the services of these egg heads especially in the healthcare sector, teaching and Information technology, are now left to patronize quacks such as dubious persons parading about as native doctors, plumbers, carpenters, and neophytes who are not very good in information technology.
The mess in Nigeria now is massive and they are multidimensional.
First, the frightening alarm of exodus of medical doctors should worry all of us. Nigeria’s Medical Association (NMA) said poor salaries and a lack of a conducive working environment forced many medical doctors and health workers to leave Nigeria for other countries with better remuneration.
NMA National President, Dr Uche Ojinmah stated this in an interview with newsmen recently during the opening ceremony of the 2022 National Executive Council (NEC) meeting of the association held in Gombe.
He said doctors in Nigeria are underpaid and lack the basic equipment and conducive environment to work, hence they choose to leave the country for greener pastures, a development that causes the shortage of manpower in the country’s health sector.
Dr Ojinmah also decried the underfunding of the healthcare facilities by the Nigerian government, decrying that the country is yet to implement the 2001 Abuja declaration that recommended the allocation of 15 per cent of the budget to the health sector.
“In 2001, all the heads of states in Africa gathered in Abuja and held a meeting on how to improve the health sector. And at the end, they had a declaration that 15 per cent of the annual budget of every nation should be dedicated to health care.
“Unfortunately, since that time, Nigeria, the country that hosted the meeting could not implement that declaration. So, it is obvious that they know what to do to make it better, but maybe for political reasons, they are not,” he decried.
Dr Ojinmah noted that in order to improve health indices in the country, there was the need for government to increase funding for the health sector through the provision of equipment and adequate manpower in all the health facilities across the country.
He also emphasised the need for medical personnel to be well remunerated and provided with a conducive environment to practice their profession, “So as to reduce the massive brain drain that has hit the medical profession.”
The NMA president added that the association was disturbed over the activities of quacks among medical doctors, saying the association was collaborating with directors of medical facilities to rid the health sector of quackery.
Shockingly, Nigerian teachers that for decades, have been grossly underpaid are leaving for greener pastures.
The Registrar and Chief Executive Officer of Teachers Registration Council of Nigeria, Prof. Josiah Ajiboye, said that over 260 Nigerian teachers have migrated to Canada within the outgoing year.
He also said the United Nations had hinted of its intention to sack some teachers and rather embark on mass recruitment of teachers from Nigeria.
Prof. Ajiboye, who spoke at a one-day retreat on the state of education in Nigeria, organised by Education Correspondents Association of Nigeria,ECAN, in Abuja, lamented the berating of Nigerian education system by Nigerians.
According to him, in spite of the perceived crisis in the nation’s education sector, Nigeria has fared well in terms of education standards, a development he said had made some foreign nations to engage Nigerians for teaching service.
Ajiboye said: “When you say medical doctors are going outside the country,I wish to let you know that they are not alone. Teachers are going outside the country too.Even this year alone,. I have signed letter of professional standing for over 260 Nigerians going to teach in Canada alone.
“Nigeria’s education is among one of the best in the world as at today if not,why are Nigerian professionals going outside the country. You see thousands of Nigerians everywhere you go, Nigerian graduates are well sort out for .
“Even as at today, if you look at the quality of our graduates, they are people that can compete with other people all over the world. People will always tell you the standard is falling but who is setting the standards.”
And then this is the grand mother of all problems in Nigeria which is the 2022 Multidimensional Poverty Index Survey released in Abuja on Thursday, in which the NBS said the figure represents 63 per cent of the nation’s population.
It added that the poverty index is mostly experienced in rural areas especially in the north with women and children being the most affected.
The survey was conducted by the NBS, the National Social Safety-Nets Coordinating Office (NASSCO), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI).
It was gathered that the measure used to calculate the figure was based on Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) with five components of health, living standard, education, security, and unemployment.
According to the survey, over 50 per cent of children across the country are affected by poverty.
In his remarks, the Statistician-General of the Federation, Mr Adeyemi Adeniran, noted that 56,610 households were surveyed and areas such as health, education, living standards, food security, water reliability, underemployment, security shocks, and school attendance were considered.
While the multidimensional poverty index stood at 27 per cent in Ondo State, the figure is estimated at 90 percent in Sokoto state.
I have not even talked about the ten million out- of-school kids in Nigeria and the fact that public universities were shut down by government for nearly a year thereby leading to exodus of students to overseas especially those from rich backgrounds and this huge movement of students affects the 3conony adversely as highlighted in a recent CBN data.
An analysis of data obtained from the Central Bank of Nigeria showed that Nigerians spent at least $220.86 million on foreign education between December 2021 and February 2022.
This is according to the CBN data on the amount spent on educational service under the sectoral utilisation for transactions valid for foreign exchange for December 2021 to February 2022.
In December 2021, the apex bank stated that it spent $90.67m on foreign education.
The CBN also noted that in January 2022, a total of $60,202,730.84 was spent on foreign education, while noting that $69.9m was spent in February 2022.
Though the bank has not updated the amount spent in March, April and May, it noted that the amount it indicated in December 2021 and January 2022 might be subject to change in future.
Then to cap it up, the most hardened criminals and fraudsters are also on the global move. This is why the rate of convictions for fraudsters of Nigerian origin in the USA is unprecedented.
To fix Nigeria back, the electorate should now understudy the backgrounds of the persons that are now canvassing for the votes of the electorate in the soon to be held election. This is the best time to vote in persons with no past criminal records and persons who can be trusted and who are honest, accessible, open, clean academically with traces of all their educational history made known and verified by all Nigerians at the touch of the botton. If we vote for someone with past Hard drug conviction or someone who became so rich after joining politics, then Nigeria will collapse. The ball is in our courts to fix Nigeria that is today in a fix.
- Mr. Onwubiko is head of the Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) and was National Commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission of Nigeria.