The last time Nigeria and Nigerians were lucky to have a near-perfect one voice on national unity was on Independence Day, October 1. The Super Eagles ‘unity’ gift of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup in Russia, without the normal mathematical panic has just reinstated an underlying passion to sustain a one Nigeria dream.
After succeeding in one of the most difficult groups, which has African champions, Zambia, North African giants, Algeria and perennial champions and rival, Cameroon, the Super Eagles, which remain a national pride and identity even more than the Nigerian naira and national flag, have proven that Nigeria can survive even when placed in very stringent and tight corner.
One other positive to take away from that victory is how both the political opposition and ethnic divide stood and praised a one Nigeria Super Eagles; they connected the victory as an Independence Day gift as President Muhammadu Buhari and his predecessor, President Goodluck Jonathan put it.
Nobody cared much about what region or state the goalscorer is from, rather, he was linked to another national hero, his uncle, Austin Jay Jay Okocha that was one of the golden generations that made Nigerians pride as one Nigeria.
Maybe economic shortcoming is just a victim, which Nigerians transferred their aggression to. Over the years, the Nigerian economy has never been perfect especially since the long spell of military dictatorship. Majority of the Super Eagles players, which represent the trending Nigeria generation between zero year to 35 years of age have never witnessed an averagely okay economy in Nigeria.
There was never a time Nigeria had 24hours electricity supply, there was never a time when Nigeria doesn’t have unemployed youths, there was never a time when the Nigerian schools were near-perfect or top notch…so why and what exactly is the noise for disintegration about at this immaterial time?
It’s probably because unlike the economy that was never good enough for the status of Nigeria’s standard, the other things that solely bind Nigerians together failed Nigerians.
Nigeria no longer has the Okocha, Sunday Oliseh, Peter Rufai, Segun Odegbami, Nwankwo Kanu, Sunday Bada, Chioma Ajunwa, Mary Onyali generation that when every other thing failed, they continued giving Nigeria the strength they needed to stand firm.
Since those days when sports failed as a unifying factor, it was just normal for all attention to fall on the economy and the obvious that never changed from Independence and some group of people suddenly started feeling marginalised.
It is simple, if the federal government really want to sustain a disunited Nigeria, they still have the option of the back door, which is making sure that the sports sector doesn’t fail even if they can’t fix the economy in a century time.
Think of it, even the Biafran’s jumpstart to declare a nation illegally that has made them set up a secret service group, ousted their own flag, displayed their own currency, they never remembered to put up a national team in any of the sports.
It is a proven fact that Nigeria only needs a unifying reason to forget the many things that disunite her citizens and sport has proven to be a substantive way out to buy the government another 100 years lease of togetherness.