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Opinion: Vital Lessons For Nigeria From The World Cup

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By Michael Effiong

It is another World Cup year and already Qatar 2022 World Cup is living up to the hype. The victories, the upsets, the records, the excitement and of course, the controversies.

Talking of controversies, the mere reason that the tournament is holding at this time at in Qatar is controversial why was the country given the nod to host a summer tournament when everyone knows that it is practically impossible to play football in that country in the usual time of June-July?

Anyway, this is a testament to the fact that the only thing that is constant in life is change. But for football buffs, this world cup which has been squeezed into the calendar by FIFA in the middle of the season is none like any other.

Many have applauded it because the players will be in tip top shape, others have said it will be bedeviled by injuries because of the amount of stress the players had gone through before the tournament.

Whatever camp you belong to, one thing is sure, football is a huge platform. From the way Nigerians are discussing Saudi Arabia’s monumental defeat of Argentina and Japan’s silky victory over Germany, you will almost forget that our country is not in the tournament. This means that like all those participating countries, non participating countries are not left out of the FIFA World Cup fever.

In the midst of the frenzy, there are key lessons to learn from oil-rich Qatar as it throws its doors open to the world. The first lesson is that there is virtually nobody in any part of the world who will not know where Qatar is on the map. The country is selling itself big time! Many who thought that Qatar was a part of UAE now know better.

Lesson two is that the infrastructure in Qatar even if it was great before has received a big boost. The country has built eight fantastic stadia for the tournament with the biggest being the Lusail Stadium with its capacity at 88,966.

Interestingly, this giant stadium will be transformed into a community centre with schools, shops, cafes, sports facility and health clinics. This means that we need not spend a fortune on an edifice that is not convertible and after the one-month tournament it becomes a waste.

Lesson three is the fact that football is a big brand. It is a money spinner that can be used to market our country and our culture. Imagine Qatar telling the world that it has its own ideals. For example, fans are barred from drinking alcohol openly,  warned that they cannot cavort in the open or showcase their sexual idiosyncrasies publicly  and many of such cultural restrictions.

From time immemorial, we have imbibed the notion that “when you are in Rome behave like Romans” but some people were bent on forcing their own way of life on the people. But the Qataris have stuck to their guns and said a capital No.

The power of the football brand is also brought to fore Imagine the millions of dollars that will be spent in the country these few weeks, the hotels, the restaurants, local businesses. No wonder, FIFA President, Gianni Infantino the other confessed with a smile that the body was going to make over $700million dollars profit from the tournament compared to the last one in Russia.

The fourth lesson is that in football, like in life, never underestimate any opponent. The Argentine team which includes one of the best football players ever, Lionel Messi, in their training camp, would never in their wildest imagination think that they could be beaten by the Saudis who are ranked 53rd in the world. Of course there were other upsets. Always expect the unexpected.

Lesson five and the most important lesson, only the best make it to the tournament. If you are not there, you were not good enough, Period! You have to be the best to rub shoulders with the best. Nigeria was missing in action because we have fallen way below par. And this is the point that I want to drive home today.

The Nigeria Football Federation or Nigeria Football Association as it is legally known, should begin preparation for the next world cup from now. We have to fix our local league immediately. Amaju Pinnick, the immediate past NFF President has done his best, but his best was to get him a seat at the FIFA Executive Committee but left Nigerian football in doldrums.

With all the talents we have, how come we cannot have a viable professional league?, How aome we cannot have a private sector-driven league? I am told the South African League attracts over $1billion dollars in sponsorship but ours is struggling because of organization. I think the first thing to do is to have a strict entry-level criterion for all clubs that will make it to the professional league: Good facilities, academy, contracts for players and a proper board.

If this is done, we will begin to have stars again in our league and that will not only attract the big brands but will also attract fans to the stadium. As a kid, I was a fan of Stationery Stores aka Flaming. I remember that we used to go and see the club’s stars then getting ready at their Guest House somewhere in Lawanson before heading to the UAC Stadium to watch them play. We had our stars, the Peter Rufai’s that we all envied at the time.

Our players used to shine here in the local league, get into the national team before being headhunted by top European clubs. Today, no one cares about the local league, we struggle these days to have even one local player in our National team. This has to stop.

For the new NFF boss, Ibrahim Gusau, I believe this is the time to tear up Amaju Pinnick’s template, cut himself off  Mr.  Pinnick’s apron string and begin to build a pathway for himself.

He can carve a niche for himself  and make history by being the man to bring back the glorious days of Nigerian football. He should begin to work with the State FAs after all, they are the cabal that voted him to power. They must restructure grassroots football. He should work with the NPFL to make Nigerian league viable. If we can watch Zambian league, Ethiopian League and Kenyan League on TV, are these football administrators not ashamed that Nigerian league is missing?

If he learns this very vital lesson and begin the rebirth, Nigeria will have a firm foundation which would help to build a team that can compete favourably with the best in the world. We would be able to produce a team that will not only qualify effortlessly but shake the world like we did in USA 1994.

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Akpabio Commits to Collaboration with Tinubu, Governor Umo Eno

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The President of the Senate, Godswill Akpabio, has stated his commitment to working closely with Nigeria’s President, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and Governor Umo Eno to ensure the delivery of democratic benefits to the people of Akwa Ibom State.

Akpabio stated this in his country home, Ukana, Essien Udim Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom, while briefing his constituents on the journey so far as their representative in the red chamber.

He assured the people of Akwa Ibom North West Senatorial District of his commitment to their welfare in appreciation of their total support for him, President Bola Tinubu and the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC) in last year’s election.

The Highpoint of the constituency briefing was the distribution of over 10,000 bags of rice and other essentials for his constituents from the wards, to the local governments.

A statement by his Special Assistant on Media, Jackson Udom, quoted Akpabio as saying, “I am here once again, to thank you for standing by me, our President and the party, before, during and even after last year’s elections. I have come to say thank you and also bring Renewed Hope to you all.

“As the President is doing his own, the Senate President is also doing his bit and being complemented by the state governor, Akwa Ibom would be the better for it. We have finished elections and politics, we are now into governance. The governor of the state must touch you, because he is the governor of all the people in the state irrespective of political affiliation.

” As I am touching you now from the political angle, I will also touch the state without any political party affiliation. Most of the projects we are putting in place would be used by people resident in the state. Relax, things are getting better.”

The former Governor of the state, assured his constituents that his current position as the Senate President would be used for the development of the state in collaboration with the President and the Akwa Ibom State Governor.

Hear him: This Senate President is not the one that would be fighting the state government. I will collaborate with , I will collaborate with , to make the state better for us all. We cannot be out of government for a long time. You have to go to a government that carries you along”

Akpabio promised to work for his constituents and Nigeria with all his strength, noting that, “as the President of the Senate, I am for the Southern region and the entire country. I may not come here regularly to tell you what I have been doing for you, but you will be feeling the impact on way or the other. Our unemployed youths would be gainfully employed. I will construct a mini stadium in all the local governments in the district, for our youths to develop their sporting potentials. ”

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Akwa Ibom Government Invests N112 Billion in Road Infrastructure Projects

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…DAKKADA OIL PALM FACTORY COMMENCES MILLING SOON

“Since May 2023, Akwa Ibom State Government Invests N112 Billion in Road Infrastructure”

Commissioner for Works and Fire Service, Prof. Eno Ibanga disclosed this when he presented a breakdown at the State Executive Council meeting in Uyo.

He revealed that 39 new road projects have been undertaken with N78.77 billion released to fund them, while old projects have been funded to the tune of over N30 Billion, with an additional N12 Billion recently released by the Governor.

Details of the Exco meeting were made public by the Commissioner for Information, Ini Ememobong.

The Executive Council also approved the increment of pension for pensioners who retired before 2012, effective April 2024.

Following the ongoing harvesting of fruits, milling will soon commence at the Dakkada Global Oil Palms.

The Managing Director of the Akwa Ibom Investment Corporation, Pastor Imoabasi Jacob announced this during his presentation at the State Executive Council meeting presided over by Governor Umo Eno.

Two projects executed through the Direct Labour Agency have been completed with 19 other ones ongoing.

The Director of Operations of the Agency, presented a status update on the projects under their supervision, also disclosed that 31 of the 100 initial ARISE Compassionate Homes will be completed and presented soon.

The Council was also briefed on the progress at Ibom LED, where 800 people have been trained and N400m has been approved to fund the grant of N500,000 to each of the participants, which will soon be done.

The Governor charged all the Executive Council members to ensure that all the projects and programmes under their supervision are people-centric from ideation to execution. He advised that project monitoring should be ramped up to ensure quick completion.

Major Highlights of the meeting are as follows:

√Status update on Food sufficiency received; proposal on increased cocoa, rice production & Ibom Model Farm submitted by HC for Agriculture & Rural Development

√Presentation of proposal by MD, AKICORP on Ibom Towers, FalconNext, Landmark Beach Resort.

√Dakkada Global Oil Palms Ltd ready to commence milling of ongoing harvested fruits

√Confirmation of N400m disbursed at N500,000 each to 800 IBOM-LED trainees in two batches

√Briefing by HC Works & Fire Service on N112 billion disbursed by the Governor for road infrastructure since May 2023, with 39 new road projects receiving N78.77 billion & N30 Billion for old projects, with additional release of N12 Billion

√Presentation by HC Culture & Tourism on tourism blueprint for proposed development of Tourism hubs at Ikot Abasi, Itu, and Oron

√ Two projects ready, 19 ongoing through Direct Labour Agency on 1 Project per Local Government Area; 31 ARISE Compassionate Homes nearly completed

√Approval for increment of pension for pensioners who retired before 2012, effective April 2024.

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Oyo Prince Encourages Peace and Continued Charitable Acts Among Muslims

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Prince Afeez Siyanbola Oladigbolu, the grandson of the 40th Alaafin of Oyo and the youngest contender for the Alaafin throne, is calling on Muslims in Oyo State and across Nigeria to uphold peace and carry forward the spirit of sacrifice and kindness observed during Ramadan.

Prince Oladigbolu made the call in his Eid-El- Fitri message where he bemoaned the state of affairs in Oyo Kingdom.

According to him “We don’t have an Alaafin and we also currently do not have a Chief Imam. The two vacuums remain unfilled due to the passage of HRM Oba Lamidi Adeyemi and late Mashood Adebayo Ajokidero and this requires urgent attention because of the leadership gap it has caused in Oyo.

“The absence of the Alaafin has led to a state of stagnancy since Oba Adeyemi joined his ancestors in April 2022, while our spiritual growth has not been at its highest without a Chief Imam”

The young prince challenged Muslim leaders and communities to be fervent in unstoppable prayers for Almighty Allah’s intervention in the affairs of Oyo town, the State and Nigeria.

He also used the opportunity to urge the youths to be calm, stay away from violence and embrace hard work.

In his words ” Violence leads to crime , while crime leads to jail”

He further also advising youths to abstain from being used against the government, noting that nobody or group of people have the capacity to fight the government at any level.

” If the political behaviour of any candidate is not going down well with you, wait for the next election and vote such a candidate out. That is the civil way to react.

” Violence, insults, and most especially curses on our leaders are not options we should explore and will not change anything. Let’s pray for them so that they can always fulfil their campaign promises.

The former Mariner and real estate Entrepreneur also extended some assistance to senior citizens to commemorate the season.

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