The Eaglet and the Nigerian Character


The world is a fine place. The only thing wrong with it is us. How little justice and humility there is in us, how poorly we understand patriotism! Anton Chekov

It was meant to be an easy ride in the eyes of the fans. Not because the team are better but because they simply can’t settle for anything but victory. And because they are playing on home turf, they expected their cheering and support to win the match for the young Eagles. And then, not long before the end of the match, with few minutes left on the dot of time, defeat starred them in face. Their darling team is 3 goals down. Knowing that nothing but miracle will up-turn the result, the fans in anger started walking out of the team. They poured out curses and displayed their frustration. Some even went to the extent of throwing “pure-water” sachets at the team. One by one, the stadium was almost emptied.

Demoralized, disappointed, with defeat facing them in face, the boys continue to play on with determination. The young eagles clearly know the implication of a defeat- disbandment of the team and the sacking of the coach only to be replaced by some new faces that will start all over again and commit the same error. Beyond this is the tendency for such action by the authority to end the promising career of the talented one among them. This has happened in the past.

And then, the eaglets found their wings again. One by one they started the “Miracle of Istanbul” and just on the dot of time, they went ahead and equalized. And then the referee blew the whistle-It was a draw! By now the fans are getting excited but most of them are doing so outside the stadium. The fans have clearly been defeated in their own backyard. What a shame!

And the next two games was expected to produced another disappointments in spite of the glaring difficulties the boys faced and in spite of the fact that everyone acknowledged they are paired in what was dubbed as “group of death.” In fact, after the draw that pitched Nigerian team with Argentina, Germany, many pundits has predicted that it is impossible for the team to finish top of the group. Only patriotism prevented the few optimists that are left from predicting doom for the young team.

What is more, the fact that the team was hastily assembled few months to the fiesta also made many to believe that our lack of preparation will be our major undoing. I remember the last under-17 team that won in Korea was also hastily assembled by the then coach Tella of blessed memory. In fact, most of the time, the Nigeria Authority have developed the habit of waiting till the last minutes before embarking on serious preparation for major international event- A situation that is costing the country a lot.

By sheer dint of hard-work and good luck, the eaglets went ahead to win the rest of their games and also top their group. Once in knock-out stage, the eaglets started beating their opponents convincingly with wider goal margins to show they are a class apart notwithstanding their stuttering start to the game. And tonight, they did it again by beating Spain and qualified for the final.

I looked around me and I am seeing army of youths jubilating on the street, praising their darling team for making it to the final. Bit inside me something else is brewing. Anger! And that is the purpose of this article. I consider those fans as hypocrites who only enjoy

As I sat down, meditating upon my country’s underdevelopment and many other self-inflicted woes, I can see a great similarity between the Nigerian Character and the Eaglets’ Character. From political instability to economic bastardization and then leadership ineptitude, I can see the picture of Nigeria as a whole- The Nigerian Character-or is it Nigerian Factor?

Nigerians don’t know when to give up but they know how to stay inactive even when the chance of success is high.

Nigerians tend to do better when pushed to the wall and often waste time on finishing the projects when it is easier.

Nigerians don’t care about the kind of leaders they elected as long as he deliver results. More often than not, Nigerians like gambling with leadership. They only begin to complain when the leader is not performing or when the policy is not favoring them.

Nigerians detest planning. For whatever reason, the rush culture that is so glaring on Lagos roads (which lead to traffic jams and waste if valuable hours everyday) seem to be finding it way into everything we do at national level. Whether it is preparing for election, or setting up of a viable opposition party, or nominating candidate for elective posts, and putting together a credible national team and coaches, the story is all the same. Indecision and late preparation. Yet, these people will expect to defeat someone who has been spending longer time on the same undertaking! And if they fail, it is trouble. And if they succeed they don’t honor their heroes.

Nigerians like diverting responsibilities to others instead of taking up the challenge and tackle the problem headlong. Bulk-passing is one of our virtues. No wonder, no one wants to do the work and everyone suffer.

Nigerians has no clear-cut ideology. Something to unite us. To propel us. To make us stand by one another whether in time of joy or suffering, we just like to celebrate success of our fellow men regardless of how they came about it (by fair or foul) and desert our fellow men when they fail regardless of how much genuine efforts they put into the undertaking. This is why criminals get more national honor that the common

At personal level, many of us know the important of having personal ideologies and convictions, which is why we have many individual achievers nation-wide. But At national level we are yet to understand how to begin to harness our individual convictions into national success. Little wonder why we have many records of individual accomplishments but reside in a nation that is sidling steadily into failure.

Nigerians are too godly but they are often impatience in waiting for results- we like to expect miracle in everything. This is one reason God has probably been too shy to come to our rescue. A typical Nigerian expect miracle in everything and as quick as he can find it.

Nigerians are fantastic people with badly dented international image and poor national self-image. I believe that if we can begin to look inward at these little things like the fans’ behavior at Abuja stadium and others we will start seeing change in our national lives. I believe Nigeria can truly be great. But we must learn to work with patience as well as in unity so that the dream we nurture for our nation will be realized.

By Isqil Najim

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