By Paul Bassey
Last week I got a query from my boss Onochie Anibeze. He was not happy that I did not write. He sent me a text that had to do with me disappointing my readers, those who bought the paper on Monday expecting to read me, only to be disappointed.
One reader even took it too far. He sent me a text implying that I was ‘rude’ that If I knew I was not going to write, all I needed to do was to forewarn my readers, apologise.
I replied, protested the ‘rudeness’ of my action and tried to explain why I could not write. “ have you called all the people that read you to explain why you did not write?”…..Patrick will not give up!
Last week, I woke up and found it very difficult putting my thoughts together. There were too many conflicting signals in our sports radar so much that I became confused, perplexed.
‘if you, with all the experience in the industry can claim not to understand anything then what do you want those of us out there to say?’ Patrick had drilled.
Sports has been my culture medium, that medium that is so transparent that you cannot mistake blue for red. Sports is not practiced in the dark. It enjoys the benefit of klieg lights and thousands of spectators, even those who prefer live matches to television and radio versions. So structured, it is difficult to deceive, to hide and to twist the realities that are the hall mark of sports.
Given this back ground, In the last one year I have tried to comment and to write on what I believe is right, true and practicable. Yet how many times have I not been ‘called to order ‘ as it were, told that what I write or wrote is totally at variance with “reality”. Which reality? When did we stop administering sports with rules, regulations and statutes?
Many things I don’t understand, especially when those things are coated in the garb of politics and selfish considerations to the detriment of a greater good.
Those calls, those mails and text messages. ‘ Paul what do you think of…..?’ I have lost all thoughts, I do not think anymore. It is only when I get out of this country that I think. When I see things working in South Africa, I think.
When I see the English league kicking off like clock work with all the attendant frills and thrills, I think. When I see teenagers hitting the ball into the limelight of tennis fame, I think…….I wonder, why not Nigeria?
Never in the history of sports in this country have we faced such a chaotic sports calendar as we are witnessing presently, especially in football. No one can remember the number of cases pending in court in a game where it is taboo to file injunctions………
I have just been reminded that the Nigeria Premier league is still on, or is on hold, that same league that was restructured to tally with the European season, is still trudging and plodding on after the European league had gone on recess and resumed, five weeks on.
Pray how has it even been possible to organize the league without a sponsor?
Then came the All Africa Games and I was told the only reason why we were able to win so many Athletic medals and shore our gold haul to a miserly 27 was because the superstars of world athletics from Kenya, Ethiopia, Algeria, South Africa and Morrocco did not bother to go to Maputo, thereby watering down our superiority claim.
I can go on and on…yet in the midst of all the confusion and maladroitness, Enyimba International and Sunshine Stars had, by Saturday qualified for the semi final of the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup respectively. What a testimony of how great this country can be, IF ONLY WE CAN GET IT RIGHT FOR ONCE.
For Eudora Iwuanyanwu
As a founding member of Champions Newspapers family, I am in a position to speak and authoritatively too on the wife of the publisher Chief Emmanuel Iwuanyanwu (MFR)
Lady Eudora Iwuanyanwu was that pillar the Chief needed to go into a business he was not an expert but needed to pilot to a safe landing. How can I forget her stately mien and carriage? Her strong presence that was not imposed but felt? Her discipline, friendly disposition and trademark hospitality that endeared her to the management of Champion Newspapers whenever we had course to visit her likeable home either in Owerri or Lagos?
Did I ever see her frown? Not when there was this permanent smile on her face, One she bequeathed to her children.
Today, alas, she is no more.
I join thousands of Nigerians in commiserating with the Iwuanyanwu family, just as I pray the the good lord to give them the fortitude to bear this irreplaceable loss.
See you next week.