By Denrele Animashaun
”In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousand fold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers . . . we are ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations.”— Alexander Solzhenitsyn
A nebulous group called The James Ibori Political Associates has announced the cancellation of the planned 54th birthday celebration for James Onanefe Ibori which was earlier scheduled for August 4.
It has not been the best of times for James Onanefe Ibori. So to have to be celebrated in absentia for his 54th birthday is in bad taste and rubbing salt in the wounds of hardworking and honest Nigerians.
These associates of his took pages of advertisements to lament his lack of freedom and they have blamed it on the wicked that have done their worst. They have blamed it all on the wicked step mother.
Correct me, if am wrong, but did James Ibori not steal the people’s money or not? Was the court impartial? Why did Odidigboigbo run away to Dubai and avoided London? Now we are learning that it was because James spear-headed the resource control struggle but was he the only one in the struggle?
Oh yes, he is the modern Robin Hood then, stealing from the rich and giving to the poor? This man has been convicted of grand fraud and he is serving time in our majesty’s Prisons. And he is being feted as a leader, surely yes, Ali Baba and the forty thieves more like!
Yes, we should be reminded, even by an egg-head of James’ “achievements in life which speaks volumes. That even while away that James bestride the political firmament with that aura that stands you out”.
They said that “James’ tribulation (that) had their origins in the struggle for resource control” hence “that has not dampened” their love for him. Are they talking about the very same James Ibori?
Did we not all observe that since his incarceration, “no other criminal case in Nigeria has been appealed to a British court” (meaning what?) that they (who are they?) discriminated against James. Ibori’s defence in the face of allegations had always been that he had a successful business career and had made money independent of government, yes, pull the other one. Only in Nigeria!
“If those investigating fraud can be so easily compromised with a mere $3 million and have the names of some expunged from the crime books, we can imagine how easily a crime can be pinned on another (meaning they pinned the crime on James!)”. They offered their prayers and indeed that of all well-meaning Deltans at this period. They implored all Deltans and indeed Nigerians to continue to pray to God to strengthen “our leader, Chief James Ibori as he matches through this difficult phase of his life”.
Nigerians, we seriously have a problem and something is definitely wrong here. “Have we dealt with pressing issues such as who stole the pension funds; have we identified the petroleum subsidy thieves and their collaborators; have we prosecuted the sponsors of Boko Haram; unearth those who collected the money for the power sector without electricity; explain why the Warri-Port Harcourt (East-West) road cannot be completed; or identify and prosecuted those who bunker our commonwealth”.
For the love of oil, we pander and exult the immoral, thieves, murderers, miscreants and the nefarious.
The elephant in the room by Denrele Animasaun
“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail”-Benjamin Franklin
We once had a national airline with a logo of a flying green elephant with big ears. So it was a relief to see that the mascot for the national team to the Olympics settled for an eagle. Like the elephant, the eagle too failed to soar to greater heights. We arrived in London for the 2012 Olympics with a contingent of 51 sportsmen and women competing in 8 sports and we failed abysmally. Not one single medal between them, not one.
We do not exactly have a good record of amassing Olympic medals. Sports can give a window into a country’s prowess, so the result speaks volumes –the government has enriched its pocket as always and failed to invest in the young. They failed to invest where and when it mattered most. If they let go of some of their loot and put their money where their mouth is; invest in grassroots sports project, nurture, develop sporting talents and provide, support, trained coaches, sport specialists and roper training facilities. Most of the Nigerian athletes had to finance their own training and expenses to compete and we expect better results?
The athletes, like the rest of most of our population, are dispirited and disenchanted people. The medallists told us that their win means commitment and dedication with financial support and top notch training facilities. None of these elite athletes come from rich homes.
They were picked at local school and college sport meets and selected because of their talents and they had in them the hunger, potential and drive to rise about their background and become champions. Time and time again , the grassroots, from working class is where you nature these future potential.
Nigeria needs to invest in these communities and let them work their way out of poverty, hopelessness and inspire others that through hard work and determination they too can become champions..
The Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, expressed the Federal Government’s disappointment at the dismal performance of Team Nigeria at the 2012 Olympics. He admitted that poor preparation was to blame! You think? Once again they failed to foot the blame.
“Our inability to win any medal so far is as disappointing for my team and me and for all Nigerians everywhere. But we must have the courage to see it as it is. This is a clear testimony to how far our sports have fallen behind.”
There has to be a system that puts athletes’ welfare at the heart of planning and only then can we guarantee a couple of medals? I know how much the British team medal tally lifted the nation’s morale and it definitely has inspired the young to take up sports like their heroes.