7 minutes with China: Why it may be time to boycott the Super Eagles

I
was in Uyo as usual as the Super Eagles went up against Cameroon in
the first of the 2 legged encounter with hopes that we would win and
get to the World Cup yet apprehensive with uncertainty.
It
was eventually a great result for Nigeria as we did not just beat the
Cameroonians, we totally outplayed them and if I may, embarrassed
them.
But
something happened before, during and after the game that got me
thinking whether it made any sense to
make these trips for
Nigeria’s home
games.
Warning
signs
Nigeria have always had this
problem with organising big events as security personnel somehow
manage to overdo their brief.
I remember in Uyo when Nigeria
played against Algeria last year and how the police at the lobby of
the stadium, with players’ dressing room to the left and conference
room to the right tried to force us (journalists) out of the lobby
because the Super Eagles players were about to make their way out of
the dressing room and into the team bus.
That place is the mixed zone
if someone does not know.
Of course I resisted and told
the police on duty to go back to whoever gave him such instructions
to say we would not leave because we had a mission there as
journalists accredited to cover the game.
Besides, I noticed that there
were five Algerians waiting to see their own players and the Nigerian
police on duty stylishly did not look in their direction when asking
people to clear the area.
I called one of the policemen
and cheekily told him I would gladly leave if he could walk the
Algerians out. Of course he could not.
The players at that time were
about to leave the dressing rooms for the team bus and someone in his
wisdom wanted the place cleared before the players pass.
What then was the essence of
covering the game if one could not interact with the players?
In the game against South
Africa in June, the organisers of the game had upped security,
bringing in members of the Department of State Security, DSS rather
than regular policemen and I saw how they messed up everything by
their high handedness.





If what happened in those two games were
tough, then Uyo against Cameroon was a crash course in going to hell
and back.
First, as soon as the governor
walked in, mobile phone signals were jammed by, you-know-who; and phone
calls, text messages and data stopped.
Journalists could basically
not do their jobs anymore.
After the game I tried to get
to the mixed zone alongside Tunde Bello and we were manhandled by
DSS operatives and even though other sports journalists around tried
to intervene, we were bundled out and the door shut against us, in
spite of the fact that we both had Media Accreditation tags hanging
down our necks.
It took the NFF president,
Amaju Pinnick, probably seeing what was happening to tell them to let
us in and they refused.
Pinnick looked at the fellow
and asked, “Do you know who I am? Can’t you see his press tag?
Let him in,” and they finally did, grudgingly, but as I got in I
noticed ‘virtue had left me’ and when I checked, my smart phone
was gone.
Bode Oguntuyi took this photo of Dwight Howard in the dressing room
Whether it was stolen by one
of the DSS officials in the scuffle, it fell off my pocket or some
miscreant picked my pocket, bottom line was I did not have a phone
anymore.
I just sat with Ekine Moseph
in shock as I watched the DSS officials assault tag wearing
journalists, on two occasions with the help of Dr. Christian Emeruwa,
an NFF person, at it seemed from where I was watching.



Though on
closer look it was actually, Emeruwa begging the DSS operatives and
actually shouting at them to stop their high handedness on the gentle
men of the press.
Remember, it was Tunde Bello
and I that wanted to get in, but they let in only me.
They then threw out Olowookere
Busayo for protesting too much about the treatment meted to me and
later Bello told me the police opened a canister of tear gas to do
away with them? Question is, why?
Gabriel Nwanetanya from Port
Harcourt recounted how he was hit on the back by a policeman with the
butt of his gun. He could have been crippled.
I travel for these games
because I want to interact with the players, get exclusive
interviews, watch a game and then file my report.
If GSM signals are jammed, as
a blogger and social media person, I cannot send live updates from
the game. If DSS beat us up and stop us from covering the post match
meeting or sitting in the mixed zone, then the whole aim of traveling
for the game would be defeated. I would be no different from those
that stayed at home to watch from the television and for good measure
I would not have lost my phone from the comfort of my home.
Bode Oguntuyi have have been right to boycott the Eagles

Oguntuyi in the media tribune at a Boston Celtics game
As I reminisced over what
happened, I remembered Bode Oguntuyi, my good friend based in Lagos.
A few years ago, he told me
how he had decided never to watch any Super Eagles game played in
Nigeria and cited poor organisation by the NFF and snobbish/ larger
than life attitude of the players.
Bode told me he could not
afford to travel and not get the best of the game which would include
unrestricted access to the players and a match day experience that
would not include police harassment.
Bode has since then rather
paid his way down to the USA to watch the NBA play-offs every season
and keeps telling me it has been better for him as he has been
treated with more respect from the NBA and the professional
basketball players.

There is no way Oguntuyi would have had access to the Super Eagles dressing room even with an accreditation tag. The DSS would have beaten the NBA dreams out of him.

Yet his job is to ensure the world knows about these players while they feature for their national team. Something is definitely wrong with us as Nigerians.
Now it is easy to blame the
NFF for this, because they have their part in it, but with the
efforts of Christian Emeruwa and Amaju Pinnick to sort things out, I
would cut them some slack.
It is however, their game and
they must ensure that every bit is covered because the buck
eventually stops at their table.
Investigations revealed to me
that the DSS operatives were there at the behest of a member of the
Akwa Ibom State government who gave strict instructions and of
course, they followed.

The NFF need to get their organisation right. They really need to sit with the Akwa Ibom State Government officials and streamline these issues before the next Super Eagles game in October.

For me, there is the traumatic
experience I have to live with, the lost Smartphone and the fact
that my trip to Uyo and back was a complete waste in terms of news
gathering.

Each time i go for a Super Eagles game, if i decide to still attend, i will shudder at the sight of a police man or DSS operative, not sure if his next move would be a slap, or if i’ll be thrown out of the premises.
If journalists cannot do their
jobs at the Stadium then the NFF communications department should not
issue out worthless accreditation tags.
Pinnick
trending for the wrong reasons
I followed the drama on social
media from Tuesday as a video went viral of two Super Eagles players
“curving” NFF president, Amaju Pinnick.
Curving? I am old school so
was seeing that word used for that action for the first time but I
watched the video and it was funny. I actually watched the second one
before searching out the first one.
First, it looked to me like
Ahmed Musa genuinely did not see Pinnick, but Victor Moses seemed
like he avoided the president on purpose.
But what was all the fuss
about? Such things happen and as the younger generation would say it,
“Pinnick for just chop im L and move on” but, no, someone at the
NFF thought they could produce a “damage control” video to
smoothen things up.
It was the second video (the
damage control one) that led most people to the first, myself
inclusive, and that in itself showed it was an exercise in futility.
In my 13 years as Media
Officer of Dolphins I told the people I worked with that they/ I did
not have to react to every allegation against the club and that some
were best ignored.
Some agreed with me, some
hated me even more for “not being willing to do my job.”
But I digress.
The second video was a shoddy
job, probably done hurriedly. The camera man at some point in the
video said, “Presido say something nau?”
This was a typical example of
when Damage Control goes wrong and my thoughts were simply that there
may not have been an issue between the players and Pinnick but their
rush to clear the air (there was even an official statement by the
Federation Director of Communications in an email) began to suggest
they may have been hiding something.
Pinnick is a public figure and
things like these will happen. Goodluck Jonathan was the most abused
president I have seen in my lifetime, and I have seen a lot in my
adult life.
Mohammadu Buhari gets on the
butt of jokes too even though people are a bit more careful about
that.
My free advise to the NFF
president is that there would be more situations like these. Just let
them pass. Even laugh them off yourself. What the NFF PR department
has done has been more damaging than the original video.
It is the social media era and
things like these will happen.
Did Paul Bassey really say
these words?
On Wednesday morning I saw
this message on a whatsapp group WHAT HAS AKWA UNITED DONE TO
THEM? During CHAN they invited FOUR PLAYERS from Akwa United, the
highest in the land and scuttled our league chances. Now, with an
important last league match to play, with the Aiteo
Cup
as our last resort THEY HAVE PULLED OUT FIVE OF OUR PLAYERS for
WAFU…..Half of the team……incredible….what have we done to
them? WHAT? – Paul Bassey.
And after reading it I
shuddered and moved on because it had to be fake news.
It had to be fake because it
was being attributed to a man I loved and respected so much so I did
not take it seriously.
I knew Paul Bassey could not
write or say such. Social media was at work again.
A few hours later I saw the
same thing on the Facebook page of a good friend, Idongesit Ikono,
who is based in Uyo and I wondered a bit more.
Could that statement had been
sent out by Paul Bassey? The member of CAF Media Committee? The
member of the NFF Technical committee? The one whose page on Champion
Newspapers I used to read voraciously as a secondary school student
in the 80s?
No way! Paul Bassey could not
have made that statement. I will just see it as fake news and continue to
believe that is what it is.
I hope it is not more than 7
minutes yet
Bode Oguntuyi at the 2010 NBA finals

Bode Oguntuyi at the 2009 NBA finals

Oguntuyi and Van Gundy, ESPN Commentator and former Houston Rockets coach. Now Team USA coach

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.


*