Nigeria’s Olympic Eagles
Nigerians, especially the country’s football followers have been expressing concern over the dwindling fortunes of the country’s Men’s Olympic soccer team, usually referred to as the Dream Team or the Under-23 Eagles. It was another disappointing moment for the country when Nigeria failed to qualify for 2024 Olympics holding in Paris after suffering defeat to Guinea on March 28, 2023.Nigeria’s Under -23 National Team were defeated 2-0 by Guinea in the final qualifier for this year’s Under -23 Africa Cup of Nations holding in Morocco. Second-half goals from Algassime Bah and Alseny Soumah sealed the fate of Nigeria in an encounter decided on a neutral venue, in Rabat, Morocco. Guinea therefore booked their qualification for the AFCON final round after they recorded a 0-0 draw in the first leg decided in Abuja. As a result of their elimination, the Eagles will not play at the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, a competition their predecessors won gold in Atlanta, Georgia in 1996, and silver in Beijing, China in 2006. This will not be the first time Nigeria will fail to make it to an Olympic football final, where the country has made great impact as a force to reckon with in the quadrennial event. The team also failed to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo after failing to progress beyond the group stage of the Under-23 AFCON. The 2023 Under -23 AFCON will be hosted by Morocco between June 24 and July 8, 2023.The top three teams at the tournament will qualify for the 2024 Summer Olympic men’s football tournament. The fourth placed team will play the Asian Football Confederation–CAF playoffs to decide the final slot at the Olympics Qualification.
Morocco qualified automatically as hosts. The following eight teams qualified for the main tournament: Morocco (hosts), Egypt, Congo, Gabon; Ghana, Guinea Mali and Niger. For most Nigerians, August 3rd 1996 would be etched forever in the memory of African football custodian and even more so for soccer-loving Nigerian fans who celebrated with glee the country and indeed the continent’s historic first soccer gold medal win at the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games in Atlanta. Prior to the feat of the West Africans at the quadrennial games in Atlanta, African teams had laboured to win any kind of medals dating back to 1920 when Egypt were the first to represent the continent in the Olympic Football Tournament (OFT).The Pharaohs lost the third-place classification to the then East Germany at the 1964 Games in Tokyo while other notable headlines included that of Zambia which hammered Italy 4-0 with a famous hat trick scored Kalusha Bwalya in one of their preliminary group matches at the1998 Games in Seoul; and there was also a historic Bronze medal for the Black Meteors of Ghana at the Barcelona 1992 Olympics Games.
Four years after Ghana’s feat in Spain, Nigeria went inches further when her national Under -23 team, proudly tagged the Dream Team, in reference to the assemblage of some talented players by Dutch coach Jo Bonfrere won the soccer gold medal with spectacular success in Atlanta, USA.In their memorable outing in Atlanta, the Nigerians’ game against the South Americans, Brazil, in the semi-final was regarded as the final-before-final and by 78th minute, the peerless Brazilian complete with the like of Ronaldo, Bebeto were leading Nigeria by 3-1. But the West Africans had other ideas as they turned the tide with barely quarter of an hour left of regulation time. But why have the successive Nigerian teams not able to meet up or reenact the spectacular successes of their predecessors, especially the 1996 side under the guidance of Coach Jo Bonfrere and the 2006 under Coach Samson Siasia. The answer is not far-fetched. The Nigerian Football Federation [ NFF] of those times were very committed to ensuring the success of the national teams .The players’ welfare, organization of friendly matches and above all the appointment of reputable coaches were given utmost priority. These, unfortunately are not the case with the present NFF, especially with the poor leadership exhibited by the Amaju Pinnick regime the high point of it was the failure of Nigeria to qualify for Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, among other failings. We are therefore enjoining the present NFF under the leadership of Ibrahim Musa Gusau to x-ray some of the problems facing the team, as well as other squads under their stable to make the country’s football regain its pre-eminence in continental and world football.
Flood: Where Federal Government Dropped the Ball
About 31 states of the federation are currently affected by flood. In the list are: Abia, Imo, Rivers, Bayelsa, Kebbi, Adamawa, Anambra, Gombe, Jigawa, Kaduna, Kogi, Niger, Ekiti, Enugu, Delta, Benue, Ogun, Ondo, Oyo, Sokoto, Kaduna, Kano, Kwara, Lagos, Taraba, Yobe, Nasarawa and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
In the front row of the devastation are Bayelsa, which is almost totally inundated, given its low lying topography, so also Rivers, Nasarawa, Kogi and Benue.While it is estimated that over 700 Nigerians, mostly women and children have drowned in the flood, Nigeria’s Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management, through its Permanent Secretary, Nasir Sani-Gwarzo, while announcing federal government’ flood mitigation action plan, mid last month, put the human casualty estimate at more than 500, with 1,500 injured and about 1. 4 million displaced.
He acknowledged that the disaster had impacted farmlands across the 31 affected states, making the 2012 flood incident pale in weight and significance and the present one worst in annals, at least as far as the memories of the victims can take them.
On her part, Sani-Gwarzo’s supervising minister, Sadiya Umar Farouq says approximately 2,776 persons have been injured and 612 persons dead across the country due to the devastating effects of the floods. Putting more numbers to havoc, Farouq said that 181,600 houses have been partially damaged and 123,807, damaged totally. In addition, 176,852 hectares of farmlands she disclosed have been partially damaged while 392,399 hectares are damaged totally.
With the damage, all the crops in the farmlands in the flooded areas of the affected states have all perished, heightening the fear of increased food shortages in the country. In Nasarawa State for instance, the over $15 million worth of Olam Rice Farm, covering 4,500 hectares of land was destroyed alongside some physical farm infrastructure such as dykes, canals and drainage worth $8 million.
In all of these, Sani-Garzo revealed that the interventionist ministry has only been able to reach out to about 300,000 of the victims with food and non-food items. This figure, Farouq clarified, spread across 31 states of the federation.
This is paltry by every measure for a disaster which well-meaning Nigerians have called that it should be designated a national emergency by the federal government or at least that the government sets up a presidential relief committee for the victims’ support.
While no such far-reaching drastic measures was considered, it became rather agonizing seeing that the responses of the national government to the widespread disaster, lacked life and spirit. While federal government’s palliatives are manifestly sparring and slow in coming, the three months period within which President Buhari wants the Minister of Water Resources and his Transportation counterpart alongside state governments to afford him a Comprehensive Plan of Action for Preventing Flood Disaster in Nigeria could be anything but urgent in the face of the deaths and devastation.
Some states at the moment have as many as 12 temporary displaced peoples camps, spread in school premises and worship centres, all crawling with people whose bedrooms can now only be accessed with canoe.
Even a visit to any of the worst-hit states by President Muhammadu Buhari could have sent a signal of empathy to the affected being the leader of the nation. But we saw none of it. Not even to Nasarawa and Kogi-states which are contiguous to the federal seat of power-much less the far-flung Bayelsa, Delta, Anambra, Imo, Kano, Adamawa, Rivers and Benue. This is even as nearby Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, was cut off from the rest of the country by the flood for two long weeks, triggering fuel scarcity and cost additions to the runaway food price inflation in the FCT.
Buhari’s disinterest to empathize with the citizens with a visit ran counter to calls by different groups and tendencies in the country on him to go and fraternize with the broken and bereaved citizens. The Pan Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) which wanted him to come to any of the states of Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states, to see for himself the level of damage and destruction caused by the flood noted that such aligned with the practice of other national leaders when natural disasters strike their countries and citizens.
DAILY ASSET strongly feels that the federal government underestimated the carnage caused by the flood or perhaps initially felt unconcerned about it, given that Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NiMet) gave early warning about the flood, by pointing to increased rainfall this year and release of water by Cameroonian authorities in its Lagdo Dam which usually inundates River Benue and its tributaries and communities along its flood plains. It needs to be pointed out, however, that no circumstance or reason can excuse a government for leaving its citizens in the lurch or to stew in their own juice.
Apart from the early warning, what was the next proactive measure the federal government took in trying to protect the lives and properties of the citizens in flood endangered communities? The answer is none!
National Defence College Graduates 2,549 Participants in 30 Years – Commandant
The Commandant, National Defence College (NDC), Rear Adm. Murtala Bashir, said the college has graduated no fewer than 2,549 participants from within and outside Nigeria in its 30 years of existence.
Bashir stated this while briefing newsmen on the college 30th Anniversary and Graduation of Course 30 Participants of NDC on Monday in Abuja.
The commandant was represented by the Deputy Commandant and Director of Studies, NDC, Maj.-Gen. Emeka Anumajuru.
He said that 216 of the participants were drawn from strategic Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs); 92 from Nigerian Police and 254 international participants from allied nations.
According to him, among the participants were people who had reached the pinnacle of their career in the various services and MDAs.
The commandant said the college deemed it necessary to mark its 30th anniversary, having been able to record landmark success stories, especially in the remit of its mandate.
According to him, the college has the mandate to train selected senior military officers, their counterparts from strategic MDAs and the police to be able to operate at the strategic level within and outside the country.
“We insist our participants understand how to use the entire gamut of elements of national power to be able to achieve strategic objectives.
“That, in a nutshell, is the mandate of the college and that is what we strive to achieve since 1992 that the college was established.
Bashir said that NDC was a key arm of National Defence Diplomacy because of its level of interaction between the college and members of the armed forces from foreign countries.
He said the college could pride itself in advancing the nation’s defence diplomacy and ultimately the national foreign policy of Nigeria.
According to him, the college, too, is a centre of excellence in the conduct of peace support operations as a strategic level.
He added that NDC was a key partner in AU and ECOWAS in advancing peace support operations, particularly as regards the theoretical components that advance the missions at the strategic level.
The commandant also said that NDC could pride itself in corporate social responsibility in its host communities such as Ushafa in terms of provision of infrastructures, medical outreach, schools and even scholarship.
He said that series of programmes had been lined up for the 30th anniversary such as sports, humanitarian activities and award night as well as graduation lecture and graduation course 30 participants.
According to him, so many of the participants have been service chiefs in their armed forces.
“This year will be honouring two of them who are current service chiefs from Burkina Faso and Uganda.
“So, when you graduate participants who rise to the position of service chiefs in their respective countries, of course you have a link to those countries because we will monitor their progresses and they remain part of us. (NAN)
In Support Of The Ban On Open Grazing
After years of indecision, procrastination and dilly dallying, the Federal Government last week took a firm decision to ban open grazing of cattle across the country. The implementation of the ban will however take-off on a pilot basis in five states of the Federation-Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa and Zamfara.
The decision was taken by the National Economic Council (NEC) after its meeting in Abuja on Wednesday.
Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chief Audu Ogbeh, who made the decision public on behalf NEC also said the Council equally banned the free movement of cattle and other animals across the Nigerian border from other West African countries, regardless of the relevant protocol of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) which guarantees free movement of people and goods within the sub-region.
We welcome the decision of NEC even though it is coming late in the day when the country has witnessed unnecessary spilling of blood from incessant clashes between Herdsmen and farmers nationwide.
The clashes which have become a national security concern, it is hoped will abate since the Herdsmen will by the new decision adopt to ranching which is the global best practice in animal husbandry.
We are even the more happier that the decision was not based on political or religious sentiments but a product of the report of the technical committee earlier set up by Council under the chairmanship of Ebonyi State Governor, David Umahi.
Umahi’s Committee traversed the states where the farmers-Herders clashes have been most prevalent, i.e Benue, Taraba, Nasarawa, Plateau and Zamfara states. During the fact-finding visits, the Committee met with all stakeholders including farmers, security agencies, state governors, leaders of Miyetti Allah Cattle Breeders Association of Nigeria (MACBAN) and Miyetti Allah Kautal Horel, among others.
In all the meetings, ranching was canvassed as the most enduring solution to the bloodletting occasioned by the farmers-Herders clashes. The Committee was therefore, left with no better option than recommend the ban on open grazing of cows.
The NEC decision has at long last vindicated the Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom and his Taraba state counterpart, Darius Dickson Ishaku, both of who enacted the anti-open grazing law as a panacea to the frequent violent clashes between farmers and the Herdsmen. It can be said therefore, that the two governors understood the issues and the best solution and indeed acted appropriately. It is to their credit that NEC arrived at the same solution the two governors proffered several months earlier.
While we commend NEC for the courage to take this decision, the security agencies especially the police and the Department of State Services(DSS) must immediately commence the enforcement of this ban otherwise the Federal Government decision would pass as one of the rhetorical statements commonly associated with politicians when confronted with difficult situations.
As has been severally argued by experts, Nigeria with a little over 26million cattle should have no problem operating ranches since countries like India, Brazil, Argentina and the US with upward 100million cattle have long practiced ranching.
What more, animal scientists have since established that the nomadic cows produced less milk and poor quality meat compared to those kept in ranches.
The Federal Government should live up to its words to provide subsidies for animal husbandry as recommended by the Umahi Committee.
In our view, the subsidies should come by way of
If the NEC decision is properly implemented, Nigeria would have just began the journey towards a profitable and healthier cattle rearing business through the ranching model.
Most importantly, the NEC decision banning the free movement of
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