By Emeka Obasi
There is little humour left in many Nigerians possibly because fourth republic politics reset their brains in such a dreadful manner that even football, the nation’s only source of peaceful coexistence is bleeding with hate speech.
Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu took to the the pitch recently to celebrate his 70th birthday. Ordinarily, there is no common law that bars enemies from wining and dining with themselves.
It is odd for people to raise eyebrows simply because friends gathered to celebrate one of their own.
Veteran Eagles identified with Tinubu, who apart from being a former governor of Lagos State, is by my reckoning so far, the strongest force in Nigerian post military politics. I guess that is why more meanings are being advanced for that Bourdillon buffet.
And here, I beg to differ. I do not see any crime in visiting Tinubu to make merry with him. Peter Rufai, Victor Ikpeba, Julius Aghahowa, Taribo West, Austin Okocha, Nwankwo Kanu and the rest are adults, free to make choices. They are not garrisoned by your expectations.
These players are not as bereft of emotions as critics are painting them. They are also not politicians. And there is no police report declaring Tinubu wanted, for friends not to associate with him. It is spiritual to rejoice with those who are rejoicing. Rufai is a prince of Idimu in Lagos. He is also well known in Port Harcourt as Peter Jaja.
Rufai’s dad was one of the royal fathers who attended traditional council meetings when Tinubu was governor of Lagos State. You do not expect Dodo Mayana not to honour Asiwaju. This same goalkeeper is so free in the garden city. Rivers Governor Nyesom Wike may invite him anytime soon to lead fellow veteran Eagles to play in another novelty match. It is purely entertainment, more reason why people should use laughter as the best medicine.
Chief Segun Odegbami honoured Dr. Olusegun Obasanjo in Abeokuta just before the Tinubu show in Eko. The former president also took part in a novelty match and Nicephore Soglo, ex-president of Benin Republic, was one of his team mates.There was neither lightening nor thunder after Obasanjo’s party. Curiously, Soglo’s middle name, Dievendome has to do with thunder.
That man struck Mathieu Kerekou out of office in 1991. The uninformed want to know what Tinubu has done for sports and the Eagles. Let me just remind them of Haruna Ilerika who won All Africa Games gold with the Green Eagles in 1973 and made the CAF Team of the tournament after the Ethiopia ’76 African Nations Cup.
Ilerika was almost gone until Tinubu helped him out. Governor Babatunde Fashola took over from where his predecessor stopped. The one time schoolboy international remained grateful to the duo until he changed planet in 2008.
Tinubu saw the good side of Fashola and worked towards his emergence as governor in 2007. Fashola’s uncle, Ademola Shittu Fashola was the first captain of the senior national soccer team in 1938. The captain led Nigeria to beat this same noisy Ghana 3-1 at Onikan.
Fashola and these veteran Eagles are so close and they have also played with him in novelty matches. In knowing these two former Lagos State governors, the players did not gain access with party cards.It is also happening in Anambra. Enugu Rangers veterans will continue to wine and dine with Willie Obiano and Peter Obi till thy kingdom come. It has nothing to do with politics.
Peter Obi began the process of paying Rangers veterans allowance. He did not discriminate. Obiano continued from where Obi stopped. This is commendable and Nigerians should look at this rapport.
Obi and Obiano may not agree politically but the latter did not abandon the Flying Antelopes simply because the former initiated the buckshee. Emma Okala worked with Obi, Obiano retained him. I have not heard other Igbo governors talk about Rangers.Okocha played briefly for Rangers but he does not need to tell you why Tinubu has made him stay in Lagos.
Kanu and his Heart Foundation got support from Tinubu when many of those who are condemning him did not know how much it cost to do heart transplant in Israel.For those who want to bring tribe and tongue into it, they need to listen. Ndigbo have a lot to gain if they gravitate towards Asiwaju.
Politics is in the air. Tinubu may be the joker if APC denies him presidential ticket. He could be forced to support another party.The Tinubu you see as an enemy today, may be the key to joy in 2023. I know that Emeka Akabueze is not Yoruba. I remember attending a function in Lagos in 2000.
Imo governor, Achike Udenwa and Jagaban were like five and six. Onwa called him Bola.Udenwa was a Biafran officer. Nigerian and Biafran soldiers played football together during the Civil War while they bombed themselves.
Okocha and Kanu have not sinned. Tinubu is not the problem. If you hate him, do not vote.