Fly over the crest of odium to greatness
The Senate President- David Mark, has shown how perceptive he really is. He, in President Jonathan's stead, led the Federal Government's delegation to spur the Super Eagles to victory as they played the 2013 AFCON final against the Stallions of Burkina Faso in South Africa. Our boys in that game defeated the Stallions one-nil to win the highly coveted AFCON title that has eluded us for 19 years.
Our senior national football team, coached by Stephen Keshi, made us proud. Their feat proved that we as a nation can also manufacture good news. Our team which can be best described as consisting of callow players asserted themselves as having morphed from the super chickens they were derided with into the Super Eagles they really are.
Hence, let all the African national football teams be birds while our national team be the Super Eagles. For just as the Eagle is the king of all birds so is our national team the king of all other national football teams in Africa. Yes, we have that bragging right!
It was a sweet victory. Nobody gave our boys the chance. Many never expected them to wallop the star-studded Elephants of Cote d'Ivoire to get to the semi-final and final of the tournament.
Those with this thinking should be pardoned for their blindness. They failed to see that the Super Eagles of today is no longer the team of years gone by that had players who would rather 'save their legs' for their club sides than play adroitly to win laurels for their nation.
Ergo, the now Super Eagles warrants all the perks and perquisites their victory has brought them, let none think of it as too much or wasteful. Do excuse my skidding off, after all, it is always said, 'stand up for the champion.' We have just by this circumlocution stood for the Champions!
Like I was saying, we have a Senate President who is very sensitive.
In the State Box which affords its occupants a clearer view of a
match- something akin to the VIP section in shows, Senator Mark didn't allow the game rivet his entire senses. He saved some for what was happening in his immediate surrounding. This yielded his submission that we don't have too many friends in the continent.
Speaking at a plenary last Tuesday during a debate on a motion by the Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu and 107 others on Nigeria's Outing at the AFCON 2O13, Senator Mark remarked, "From my interaction with people from other African countries who went to watch the Match, I observed that we don't have many friends in Africa. Only very few people, including those I interacted with in the State Box supported us. They believe that Nigeria is great already and they wanted Burkina Faso to win. I think this implies that as a nation, we should learn to be self-reliant."
You would be wrong to think that Senator Mark is wrong in his verdict for a little before he disclosed this, Ghana impressed it on us that we really don't have too many friends in Africa. This they did by closing over 40 shops belonging to Nigerians for no just cause!
The Ghanaian Ministry of Trade and Industry clamped down on the shops located at Akanshie- about 200 metres away from the Mokola International Market. The shops were reported to be occupied by Nigerians who traded in bicycle spare parts and other accessories. The former business hub is now a ghost area as only few shops owned by Ghanaians are said to be operating.
Hear one of the traders driven out- Mr Damien Uduba as he tells their
ordeal: "Officials of the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Ghana came yesterday and asked us to close and pack our things. And afterwards, they locked up all the shops and asked us to go out of their markets.
In fact we are all troubled, we started packing our things inside the shops and they locked everything inside and took the keys away."
An agitated Uduba continued, "If you see in my hands, I have all the documents we are obliged to obtain. This is the document from the Ghanaian government authorizing me to commence business in the country. This is my Resident Permit allowing me to reside in the country. In fact, I have all the documents. I pay VAT, IRS and other taxes. I pay everything and yet they closed my shop. They said I should pack all my things and go back to Nigeria." I see the last sentence as a good advice. I shall return to it presently.
Uduba's account is corroborated by Mr Prince Uzokwu who is also one of the affected traders. In his version, he was told that he would only be allowed into his shop to pack his goods out of the place as he was no longer allowed to continue trading in the area. However, the Ghanaians were allowed to continue doing business in the area undisturbed.
What I considered ruinous is that the place was made by Nigerians. It was transformed into a beehive of commerce by the same Nigerian traders the Ghanaian officials are now chasing out as Uzokwu explains:
"When we came to this place it was virtually empty, but you know Nigerians. I came and I brought somebody and that person brought another and within a period of time, the place blossomed into a market."
I don't empathize with the plight of these Nigerian traders because given Uzokwu's account, it should have been a place in our country that would have been transformed into a market by now. The same dexterity they exhibited in creating a new market in Ghana is what they can as well use in creating one here. This would have developed their homestead instead of a foreign land.
Had this been the case, the VAT, IRS and other taxes these traders paid to the ungrateful Ghanaian government would have gone to the Nigerian government. This then would have allowed our government more funds for development. It would have been utterly impossible for the Nigerian businessmen to experience at home what they just experienced in Ghana if they had stayed back.
A visit to any of the markets in the country, makes you wonder why a Nigerian will opt to go and trade in another country. This is because those who trade inside our markets are so well to do. In the market, inside the town this writer is currently staying, there are businessmen and women whose daily sales never get below half a million naira. There are others, the writer was told, who at the close of business some days rake in over a million naira. It's no exaggeration!
If this obtains in the market being referred to, imagine what goes on in other markets across major cities in the country. The fact that Nigeria boasts of a population of over 150 million nullifies whatever attracts a businessman to trade in Ghana with a population of a little above 20 million. Thus the advice given to our businessmen in Ghana for them to return to Nigeria is indeed a profound counsel.
Back to the Senate President's observation. Though most people from other African countries didn't root for Nigeria to win the Match, it never hindered the rampaging Super Eagles from soaring above their ill-wishes. Their antipathy rather motivated our boys into landing on Gold.
Likewise, the treatment we are currently receiving from Ghana should not make us despair. It should be an impulse for us to, like the Super Eagles, make our country great. Senator Mark was on point when he said Nigeria must re-order its priorities and be self-sufficient in the face of glaring hostilities from other African countries.
It is good that this assertion is coming from the Senate President himself. This is because himself and his office is very pivotal to Nigeria re-ordering its priorities and becoming self-sufficient. It is a pity some of us can't vouch for his preparedness and those of his posse in bringing this to fruition. We really need leaders in the mould of Coach Stephen Okechukwu Keshi.
Ugochukwu writes from Otukpo, follow him on twitter via @ugsylvester.