Joachim OkoruwaWednesday, February 6, 2008
[email protected]
Uromi, Nigeria




Hey Temple,

just read your latest. The one on the Super Eagles: Nice one.

The entire blame is on the NFA. And that is all part of the shame of our country, Nigeria. All the round holes are filled with square pegs, so what do you expect?


I do not blame Berti Vogts at all. If you ask me, the man even tried. It is Herculean to achieve a feat as big as that when you are not on the ground. The man was working from Germany so why should anyone blame him. The blame should go to those who employed him and the ones who approved the employment in the face of such ignoble and unacceptable terms.

The National Technical Adviser is not just the coach of the senior national team. He is also supposed to oversee the general development of the sport at all levels in the country and that includes the real grassroots - those unannounced people who play in the un-identified leagues all over the country. Our NFA does not seem to know this, so they employed a man who operates from Germany. Tell me how that is going to work?

So I do not blame Vogts. He gave his conditions and we accepted. This is the result. We should be sincere enough to accept it too because we brought it on ourselves.

On the issue of a foreigner as technical adviser, I would still say that as a people, we tend to respect foreigners more than our own people in such positions in which case, it is a lot easier for a foreign coach to produce better results than an indigenous coach. The players, authorities and people would respect him more and give him the right latitude to operate and succeed. An indigenous coach would not enjoy these. I know our people very well. Until there is a change, we shall fare better with foreign coaches. You can imagine that nobody is even canvassing for our coaches to be sent abroad for training.

Look at Frank Riijkaard. He and Keshi belong to the same generation. That means he is much younger than Bodericks or Chukwu or Tella or Fanny Amun. Look at who he is today. Look at Marco Van Basten, look at Ruud Gullit, and look at Koelman. These guys were in the same generation of great Dutch players. I don't need to tell you the heights they have achieved in coaching today. Why has our government refused to send someone like Siasia for further training abroad even after his feat in 2005? These are the issues. When we have better administrators who know what to do, things will change.

That brings me to the article by Augustine Ohanwe (Is happiness a Nigerian?) which is a rejoinder to yours. I think the problem is that people are really missing the essential ingredients. There is a great difference between hunger and fasting. Happiness is internal. A man who pretends to be happy because he is in front of people but returns behind to weep, wail and gnash his teeth is not a genuinely happy person.

We know how fake we can be as a people. Many people feign a bold and pleasant face outside so that others would not laugh at them and say "i be like say I don hard dat guy o, see as e do face like who devil dey pursue; so even when they are crumbling inside, they would pretend to be happy. Many people live by the day like this and we know it. We are supposed to correct an erroneous impression that may have fooled the international observers, why don't we correct it?

In the olden days, when people caught sight of a slave ship, they ran helter skelter because they loved their land and their people and did not wish to be taken away. I bet you, let a slave ship berth in Nigeria today, in 30 minutes, there would be no space left. Maybe to Augustine Ohanwe, that is a sign of happiness.

  • Is it a happy people who engage in rigging of every single election? The sort of election that was reported as a sham by election monitors - local and foreign does not happen in a place where people are happy.

  • Is it a happy people who cannot elect the people of their choice to run their affairs?

  • Is it a happy people who have a life expectancy of 52 years?

  • Is it a happy people who are so defeated that they have become so docile as to allow just about everything pass?

  • Is it a happy people who suffer to pass through the university only to return to being spoon fed at home by their parents?

A country where some people cannot even dream of aspiring to be who they want to be just because they come from a particular section of the divide! We have never had it so bad. We are now a nation of ritualists. Is that a sign of happiness? People now kill their children, wives, parents, distant relatives and even unknown people for rituals. I guess that is happiness too?

Men now sleep with their children at will. Incest has become a way of life - what was taboo many years ago. That is happiness too?

Banks and other institutions with marketing staff encourage their female staff to seduce customers - prospective and existing, so as to obtain their loyalty. That too is happiness?

People have made fortunes out of women and child trafficking. That too is happiness?

Our women are now famous worldwide for their prowess in the oldest profession. That too is happiness?

Children playing in the mud are one thing. No child will engage in playful activity looking sad. But ask yourself whether these children will have food to eat when they get home. Do you have any idea how they behave at home? Are you aware that many of these children do not show respect to their parents anymore because they feel they have been done a great deal of injustice coming into this world in such poverty?

Children hawking on the street, yes you see them, they seem to be having fun while the hawking lasts. Does that make them happy? Do you know what they look like when that hawking is over? Do you really believe that a parent would be happy to send his kids out to hawk?

Carry out a survey of those who are caught for robbery and drug peddling these days - at least 66% of them are educated people. Maybe that too is a sign of happiness?

When I was growing up, it was unheard of to smoke hemp. Today, it is smoked all over Nigeria in much the same way like any "over the counter" cigarette. I believe that is happiness too?

I could go on and on but I do not have the stomach for that right now. Those people he (Augustine C. Ohanwe) is talking about are mostly people who have been defeated or have grown not to know any better. That does not make them happy. This is the same thing Fela sang about many years ago. Suffering and smiling does not make anyone a happy person. If it did, life expectancy in Nigeria would not be 52 years.

Have you been to a public hospital lately? Have you ever tried to take a wounded person to the hospital? Have you ever seen a woman suffer in labour without assistance in a hospital simply because of a mere equivalent of $10?

When was the last time you visited a university in Nigeria?

Our strength of character as a people is not in doubt. When it comes to endurance, we may rank very high. But that is not the same as being happy. Can we even boast of a greater strength of character than the German, Italian, American, Japanese, Chinese or Indian?

That we have cowardly accepted our lot and allowed the dark forces to overpower us to the point that we seem not to care about anything anymore does not in any way make us the happiest people in the world. Nobody is talking about driving a flashy car. People do not even have the basic things. When was the last time people saw real running potable water or stable electricity?

Even those who drive the flashy cars in Nigeria are not that happy - I mean the very rich guys. They live in houses that look like prisons. It is only in Nigeria that people fence their houses with barbed wires and yet reports say they are the happiest in the world. Do happy people fence their homes? When we were in the olden days, only our barns were fenced so that domestic animals would not trespass. We didn't fence our homes. Then we were genuinely happy.

Just take a look at this: Before the 2008 Nations cup, FIFA rankings placed Nigeria as number one in Africa. People had their doubts but did not protest because even though it may not have been exactly true at the time, nobody was lost to the fact that our eagles could be really super - and they have been on many occasions. But compare that with when the report about Nigerians being the happiest in the world was released some years ago. I bet you they won't make such a mistake ever again. I honestly wish we were, but, I am not going to lie just because I want to look good in the eyes of people. The good news is that people who know the country know that the report was erroneous.

I am through!!!

Cheers Temple



Are Nigerians really the happiest people on earth?

Is happiness a Nigerian? By Augustine C. Ohanwe

The exit of the Eagles