This week I was in the clinic for an ‘emergency’ check-up. My Blood Pressure rapidly headed northwards.
Professor Akinyanju told me as soon as he checked me that it should never be reported that the Enough Ambassador for Africa, NCD, Champion of ‘Exercise is Medicine’ in Nigeria, and a consultant to the Nigerian Heart Foundation, fell to Stroke.
I understood immediately what he meant. It was a wake-up call.
For three days in this past one-week‘ sleep’ and I were enemies. The anxiety created by the endless news of the COVID-19 pandemic around the world was taking a toll.
I was frustrated and depressed by the absence of clarity about the ‘killing’ virus as I surfed from one news channel to another. In Nigeria, the situation is even worse and more frustrating.
The only thing that is clear is that we are sitting ducks considering our situation and our reactions to what even the most advanced countries are struggling to understand and stop as they continue to lose lives in tens of thousands.
So, to survive this, we must find and take our future and actions in our own hands.
There is an inevitability about certain things now. The pandemic has arrived on our shores and we are unprepared for it. So, we are on our own in the world to solve our problem or perish. The numbers have started to mount in deaths.
So, I left the clinic knowing I had to reduce my ‘relationship’ with the news media that was raising my blood pressure.
I decided it was time to put on my thinking cap, to recalibrate my mind and to begin to draw inspiration from outside the conventional box. I shall now put my trust in the simple and practical things that take their source from the rich reservoir of local knowledge, history, traditions and values of my people, that gave rise to my vision some two years ago when I campaigned to become governor of Ogun State.
So, what is that?
I start to look for the brighter side of this pandemic, if there is one. I start to look beneath the darkness for the treasures that lie in the unfathomed caves of vast natural resources lying just beneath our feet all over Africa, at the still-virgin environments and luxuriant vegetation, at the deep throve of African human capacity outside the continent building advanced cultures, at local knowledge and research products appearing in Madagascar, Senegal, Ghana and other African communities being disregarded deliberately by the West for their own purpose but which can serve us.
I start looking forward to the ‘tomorrow’ after COVID-19 (it will remain with the world for some time to come, we are told). That ‘tomorrow’ will usher in a new order of things in the world. Nothing will be the way it was till now. I can start now to live in my political vision of the emergence of a new Black consciousness and civilization in a new world led by Nigeria, with its epicenter in Ogun State. Post-COVID-19?
The emerging picture recalibrates my mind and body, and takes me away from the negativity of the present to a new place in the nearest future, removing my anxiety and beginning to feed my creative spirit and heal me physically, mentally and spiritually.
I now choose to look at Nigeria’s ‘loss’ of its economic mainstay and its bane, oil, as a blessing in disguise. I turn my mind towards the vast untapped (or stolen) reserves of the world’s most important other minerals lying buried in the ground underneath our feet all over the African continent.
I turn my mind to the now-inevitable return to Africa of its well-trained sons and daughters, the largest pool of the most educated persons on earth, human capacity across all disciplines now scattered in major Western capitals. I start to see the possibility of a rich Black diaspora population eager to return home as a consequence of what they went through in foreign countries that refuse to shed their cloak of racism during this pandemic.
I see a return of Blacks to their roots and motherland, to settle and to invest, to strategically and smartly deploy their acquired expertise in new science and technology to redesign and sensibly rebuild a new Africa that will not chase the West but create and nurture a new environment. Nature will smile ‘happily’ on Africa as the last un-spoilt frontier and hasten the continent’s recovery even from the current coronavirus pandemic.
Now, I chose to be foolish. I shall explore the Coronavirus local remedies found in Madagascar, in Ghana, in Sierra Leone, and other places, but deliberately under-rated and disregarded by the West and Eastern scientists, to provide new possibilities of succor for Africans. There is nothing to lose by looking internally and researching local options.
I even chose to be ‘foolish’ on the matter of Nigerian football. I shall address the issue of NFF chieftains about to renew the contract of German coach Gernot Rohr. I shall disregard what the promoters of Gernot Rohr are saying that no Nigerian coach is qualified enough to handle the national football team of the country even after the German had failed in his years as a manager to deliver on the soft mandates given to him. To think this way is disrespectful and denigrating to all Black people.
To imagine that the German is now willing to accept new conditions deliberately designed for him to reject means there is more to the whole matter than meets the eye, or he knows the value of the Super Eagles’ job more than his Nigerian bosses do. Is it because he loves the country more than Nigerians?
Who really loves the Nigerian? COVID-19 pandemic has become an eye-opener.
So, I choose to be foolish on the matter of Gernot Rohr. Let him go ‘jeje’ with his ‘superior’ knowledge of football and serve elsewhere.
We forget our history and the capacity of Nigerians to succeed.
In 1968, for example, at the Mexico Olympic Games, a Nigerian, according to some people the best Nigerian player of all time, Teslim Thunder Balogun, coached the Green Eagles that played against the greatest football nation on earth at the time, Brazil, to a pulsating, well-earned 2-2 draw. That’s over half a century ago!
The surviving members of the 1973 All-Africa Games Green Eagles that won the Gold medal can testify that brain behind that victory was another great former ex-international player, Captain and then assistant coach of the team, Mr Dan Anyiam, a very intelligent, eloquent, well-trained and educated coach.
The exploits of Stephen Keshi of recent years as a coach are unmatched by any coach local or foreign in our entire history. Are these not Nigerians?
If we had continued in the trajectory of using the best trained Nigerians as our national coaches, inviting foreign coaches without pedigree to handle their national team in concession to their ‘superiority’ would not arise in 2020.
Gernot Rohr has done his bit and collected his wages. Every month he was paid $50,000 Dollars? Who earns that kind of money for the amount of work he did in the years of his stay in Nigeria? It is ludicrous.
What did he really do? Did he win any international trophies for Nigeria? Did he impact the Nigerian league and domestic players in any way? Did he train any Nigerian coaches to be able to take over from him? The longest time he stayed with the national team for any stretch was a maximum of four weeks, twice in the 4 years of his expiring contract – before and during the World Cup in 2018, and before AFCON in 2019.
Every other time all he did was assemble players from Europe two days to a match, selected his lineup for the match and returned to his paid ‘vacation’. Which Nigerian coach worth any salt cannot do what he did for Nigeria? Is that what anyone should earn $50,000 Dollars a month for?
Even the scouting for Nigerian-born players in Europe that constitute a large percentage of his team presently is done by a hardworking Nigerian man, Tunde Adelakun, we are told.
Now with Covid-19 and its economic consequences, no one should even be thinking of expending unavailable foreign exchange for a job Nigerians can handle and that does not require rocket science, period. To suggest a wage-cut is even annoying. Was the size of his wage the reason for his failure?
We are entering a new phase in the ongoing War of global Civilizations. No African should promote color or racial superiority in African football. No Nigerian dares do so at this point.
So, I choose to be foolish. I shall thank Gernot Rohr for what the good services he has rendered and release him. I shall get one of our own qualified sons, and sink or swim with him into that emerging new world order beyond COVID-19.