By Pual Bassey
IÂ thought this was an introduction to a moonlight setting in the village whereÂ kids gather to listenÂ to elders sharing out words of wisdom, only to be told thatÂ it could also mean a fabrication of lies, it could mean a reaction to what you believe is notÂ true.
Whatever it means I have stories to tell and I want to tell them, whether you believe them or not.
Thursday, after a fruitless wait for a visa that was to take them to Malta to join other members of the SuperÂ Eagles, the trio of Yobo, Utaka and goalkeeper Aiyenugba took a flight to London from where they had to charter anÂ aircraft to take them to Tunisia. I do not want to know who will bear the cost of that charter.
My first reaction was, why the charter? These are players who for overÂ three weeks had not trained with their colleagues, who by all technical calculations are not supposed to be part of the Tunisian squad yet we allowed them to charter a plane to Tunis. Fo what?
The Yobo story is an extension of the mess we found ourselves where the NFF could not guarantee visas for players on national duty. If this could happen to the Super Eagles, IÂ can imagine the fate that is awaiting the Flying Eagles andÂ to a lesser extent the Falcons.
More than that, the National Sports Commission should move in and stem once and for all the recurrent penchant for embassies in Nigeria to frustrate and humiliate ourÂ athletes when they are picked as ambassadors of this country.
It isÂ high time we laid toÂ rest the issue of our sportsmen and women not being able toÂ travel out for international competitions because one embassy or the other decided that we should not go. I am waiting for the federal government to protest and in strong terms the events that led to the non-issuance of visas to Yobo and co.
In doingÂ so, I am aware thatÂ most of the problems we encounter emanate from theÂ maladroitness of our sports administrators. There are embassies who stipulate three weeks for submission ofÂ visa applications. We should be able to respect such.
Exceptions to some ofÂ these stipulations emerge when a team like the Super Eagles needs to add and subtract players up to the last minute in which case the embassies concerned have to be put on alert, very much in advance.
It is only in this countryÂ that I hear embassies refusing to grant visas to athletes and teams duly qualified to represent us at international level without any reason whatsoever. Please, never again.
The Magic at Zamfara
Last week I told you how I was in Minna to superintend over the final league matchÂ between Niger TornadoesÂ and Heartland. It was a match that could determine theÂ league winner outside the cracker at Oleh where Bayelsa were also in contention against Warri Wolves.
Though the Nigeria Premier League board took precautions by sending experienced matchÂ commissioners, top referees, assesors and board members to the matches, emphasis was on Minna and Oleh only for the abracadabra to be played out in Gusau.
I hadÂ the singular honour of sitting next to the executive secretary of the league boardÂ when the drama started unfolding. By the time the scores got to five, Yakmut Alhassan said and I quote â€œif they score eight goals, I will resignâ€.
I quickly told the young manÂ that he will not resign, that he will have to hear out the case and take a decision. Alhassan will hear nothing of it. He spoke about MORALITY and ETHICS.
He sermonized on the need for probity and so on. That ifÂ Zamfara needed Nine goals to escape relegation and they scored NINE, there wasÂ nothing anybody was going to tell him.
The executive secretary has since gone back to Abuja to discover that â€œit is easier said than doneâ€, the chairman of the league board, has since said that going by the experience of two seasons ago, he was not ready to waste millions ofÂ naira and valuable time to pursue what will turn out to be a worthless exercise.
Who perfected the deal? When was it done? Where? These are the questions that Chief Obaseki believes have to be answered before he can venture into a probe and because nobody is likely to do so, he will sit down and watch.
Since we are so helpless, IÂ need time to go back to my village and consult, ask for that Dele Giwa typeÂ scenario where the gods of the land decreed that whosoever killed the aceÂ journalist will run out onto the streets, naked. I want toÂ consult and get assurance that if Akwa United two seasons ago and Zamfara now did fix their matches, soon, very soon, let them come out confessing. I will wait for that to happen.
On a serious note, after Akwa United two seasons ago, after all the upheavals and shame, after the league board had done nearly everything to stem a reoccurrence, here we are back to square one.
It pains me that we have to go back to this path of shameâ€¦it pains me that we are saying â€œyou aint seen nothing yetâ€.
ThatÂ Bayelsa captainâ€™s murder
The African tradition forbids the speaking of ill about the death.
However,Â let what happens to the dead be a lesson to the living.
The death of the Bayelsa United captain can only happen here.
Of a young man who has just led his team to a league crown, who should relax, party and savour the joy of a historic achievement only for him to decide to hit the road so late at night.
No I will not talk about the menace of armed robbers who daily terrorise us. Am I not a victim? Over five years ago armed robbers stormed my house and killed my son. Today no one has solved the mystery. We are our own security.
Some call it predestination, others call it fate. That the young man was destined to dieÂ the way he did, existing in glory as it were. I think differently, that a little bit of discipline would have kept him alive.
ForÂ Linus Mba
The news that Mr. Linus Mba will be writing for the Vanguard pleases me no end. This is a man I can vouch for, one I have interacted with over the years, especially outside the shores of this country.
Linus Mba is one man that can change for the better, theÂ fortunes of referees in this country. I have in myÂ possession, a comprehensiveÂ assessment of all the referees and match commissioners inÂ the current Globacom Premier League.
This document is a classic one which if adopted will more than sanitise our league forÂ next season. I intend to write on this later. For now, I welcome on board, FIFA Referees Advisor, member CAF Referees Committee and above all a gentleman. Welcome sir, looking forward to your first piece.
ForÂ FortunatusÂ Dawodu
I got this interesting textÂ â€œGetting old, no problem at all oâ€¦.with Fortunatus Dawodu scoring diamond we turn to God on 15.06.09 at St. Paul’s Catholic Church EB Lagos. 11 a.m. To God be the gloryâ€, 60 years and still kicking.
Congrats to a great journalist, a professional to the core, silently effective. Felicitation mon frÃ¨re. Felicitation.
See youÂ next week.
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