Sunday, 24 August 2014


It is said, ‘the harder the battle, the sweeter the victory’. But I tell you, if the battle becomes too hard, the sweetness of the victory would be lost. Same could be said about failures which many claim to be the definition of an individual’s strength and weakness. However, failures – especially those from parameters beyond our control – that comes in the wake of glaring success casts shadows on the authenticity and or validity of such quotes on failure.

I like many other ambitious and zealous Nigerian youth have failed, not once, not twice. In fact, I have lost count. More intriguing is that the failures am talking about isn’t in my entire life rather an aspect of it – my writing career. If I venture to compile the former, Guinness would be forced to create a new World in their Record Book (that is if I would ever complete such a mission).

From the inception of my writing till date, I have entered countless writing contests, still yet to succeed in any. I always approach all the contests as if it was my last chance; write-out my heart, de-ideating my brain in the process. Next thing I do is go through the rigours of getting close friends to read, review and spot typos and missing strings. The body language of a handful of my friends tells me that am already a burden to them. Some will give me a hasty reply, ‘LATER’, which more often isn’t delivered. Some am sure don’t even read but will reply in emphatic adjectives – and I warn that giving someone too much false hope is a grave inhumanity to your fellow man – that will make my head swell and up my confidence and aspirations,

“Ah! It’s very good”, “You are a great writer”, and so on to avoid hurting my feelings. In the end, only a few give me helpful tips.

Laden with huge confidence and the internal pride of self-accomplishment, I would submit these write-ups with unwavering optimism. When the results are released however, the story is different. My confidence and mental strength drains on reading those demonic lines,

“Dear Anthony, we are sorry to tell you that your story does not fit…” bla bla bla…

Some go ahead to explain their reason for rejecting your work probably to console or force the bitter lemon sweetly down your throat,

“being rejected doesn’t mean your story is bad but that it doesn’t fit into the working plan…”.

The very first of these sorts of replies – that would later be a reoccurring stanza in my rhythm – left me broken for days and weeks. Today however, their poisonous effect doesn’t get me bed ridden anymore because my mind has produced immunity against them.

Truly, nobody wants to plan and still fail or get disappointed. We all set goals – albeit at different levels – and aspire to reach them. The only enemy standing on our way is usually failure. It often succeeds but if you don’t allow it to hold you down, you’ll be surprised at how farther you’ll go beyond your initial target.

Today, I would write a story – even the smallest in word counts – and I’ll keep getting buzz and commendation from people I’ve never met my entire life. Most of them say I write so well they look forward to my new posts. At such times, I would look back and flinch, not in disgust but constant realisation of how I wouldn’t have become a better writer if I had listened to the loud voice of inertia and dropped my pen after that first wave of cascading failures.

Yes! That’s the point am trying to make obvious. The more you remain resolute in what you do, in your dream and aspiration, the moment you muffle all the voice telling you to quit, you set yourself on the path of excellence. This may not turn you into an instant award winner but one thing you’ll be sure of is that you’ll not be the same person you were, you’ll become a better you. I am a better writer, I know that, don’t ask me how. And I believe the awards and recognition will one day come.

This brings me to the pathetic tale of a friend of mine who for a very long time had stood by me, feeding me with unrivalled amount of motivation. Recently, this friend explained to me how one could draw inspiration from ones immediate mind state; joy, bitterness, depression, anger and so on. As I write, this friend is in dire need of solace and motivation. I guess even the motivator sometimes needs motivation and it would be thirty-third degree evil of me to sit and watch at such a time.

This friend of mine right from undergraduate days to post NYSC had strong in heart to make a mark in the world, to stand out, to be distinguished. Early this year, the friend applied for a Master’s scholarship and got it. I was all stressed up and angry that afternoon when I got a beep on my whatsapp. It was this friend and the message read,

“I have something to tell you.”

I quickly replied, “I hope it’s something good” – my current life is enough bad news.

“Yes” was the reply.

Much later that day, the friend broke the good news to me and I rejoiced deeply because of how much I knew this friend has struggled for this opportunity. A month later, the Korean government sent the visa and every other document required. All the while, my friend often told me of a premonition that something may go wrong, but I dispelled the fears every time it came up in our chat. In fact, I began to relay my fantasies and what I would like this friend of mine to do for me on getting over there – I think that was faith. Was it?

My friend was supposed to travel through Kenya to Korea republic. Barely a week to the journey, it was on Aljazeera that the Kenyan government has banned flights into its countries from Ebola hit countries.

“I am scared. The Kenyan government banned flights from Nigeria” was the message on my whatsapp that Friday morning.

“What? Have you contacted the Korean Government?” I asked.

“Yes but they won’t reply till Monday because today is their independence and tomorrow would be Saturday so it’s till Monday.”

“Ok. Don’t worry, am sure they’ll get you an alternative.” I said – maybe I was guilty too here of giving too much confidence.

“Am having panic attack”

“No need to, everything would be fine. Believe me.” I concluded.

The truth was, I panicked more than my friend but I said to myself that if both of us wept, who would console the other so I called up all the sangfroid in me to maintain my calm. Five days later, very early in the morning, I got the shocker,

“The programme has been cancelled because of Ebola” my friend had written.

I tried effortlessly to contact my friend but my friend would not pick calls. This development has left me also devastated. If my friend will have the heart to read this, know that I share in your pain and shutting me out only made it worse for me.

This taught me that aspirations are like steaming soup; we may smell the aroma from far away or even close but may never get to taste the soup. Just when the light at the end of the tunnel beamed so brightly, its rays was choked off suddenly from the least expected source. It’s weird how things that seemed not to matter would turn around and ruin our dreams.

How would my friend have predicted this fate the day the Liberian ‘madman’, Patrick Sawyer exported the deadly virus into Nigeria? Let’s leave aside the blame game because of the strong strings animosity it would wield likewise the healing wound it would chaff again.

Now this friend of mine is probably in a sort of trance; lonely, torn, depressed. At this point, the religious would often say, “God knows the best.” This is one phrase that vexes me the more and I would advise my friends never to use it for me – I think too much and this sentence may set me on a wrong path with my creator, my Dear God Almighty.

To my friend I would ask, “Do you think this missed opportunity is the highest you think you’ll ever attain in your entire life or do you think you deserve and can get a better one if you work towards it? If your thought resonates with the second part of my question, then you’ll have to get up, dust yourself and forge ahead. I have been in a trance before and I don’t think it’s what one will even wish for an enemy. One thing is certain when one is in a trance: nothing anyone tells you makes sense except that which you tell yourself.

Finally, beyond every disappointment is a lesson learnt, if you keep trying and refuse to quit, IT CAN ONLY GET BETTER.



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Am not an ardent soccer fan – except am the one with the pads – but the current crisis farrowing in the Glass House pushes me to pick my paper and pen. Believe me, am flogged mentally for my prolonged resistance.

Corruption and the NFF hitherto are like Siamese; successive administrations bedevilled by fraud, misappropriation of fund, maladministration and so on. The once peaceful shenanigans hit a rock immediately after the exit of the Super Eagles from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, exposing to Nigerians what otherwise was intended to remain indoors.

The public show of disdain, disgust and distrust began on the 4th of July when a court order got the NFF president, Aminu Maigari removed on grounds of corruption and later on, arrested and detained by the men of the Department of State Security. This move attracted the mighty rod of Oga FIFA; raining sanctions and bans on the Nation for what it called external interference.  In view of the negative impact the ban and sanctions would have on upcoming international tournaments the country has spent time preparing for, the government – or whoever was in charge – was forced to upturn its decision and return Maigari to office.

Roughly three weeks later, Maigari was sent packing again by eight of the thirteen man Executive Committee of the NFF. This again attracted the red eyes of FIFA; memo upon memo on letter-headed paper from the mother body. The acting president couldn’t resist for long and left the sit for its rightful owner – but not without carving out his own faction. Will this be recorded as one of those cases of good triumph over evil? I don’t think so.

The drama hit crescendo recently and this time, it is between the NFF and the Electoral committee. Let me give you a brief gist of what is going down in case you were not informed too. The NFF Electoral Committee earlier scheduled the election of a new president to be held on the 26th of August 2014. Following the rippling sack and reinstate saga of the president, the Executive Committee decided to set aside that day to sit and forge a way forward rather than holding the election.

Lo and behold, the Electoral Committee – mind you, constituted by the Executive Committee – has come out strong to say that nothing would stop the election from holding on that day (a case of the servant becoming bigger than the master).

Now, let’s relax and ponder on some critical issues. First off, am pushed to ask why the Electoral Committee is headstrong on the election when the body that formed it says NO. Does it not smell fishy? Does it not spell hidden agenda? Come to think of it, the accreditation process of prospective candidates was very suspicious; I heard on radio that some candidates were disqualified because one receipt or the other was missing, others for a ban that happened decades ago. It got to a point I had to conclude that if they (Electoral Committee members) liked your face, they’ll get you approved and vice versa – like they don’t want anyone that would come and beam light in their darkness and was setup to foresee to that end.

The unending ban-threat by FIFA on what it calls ‘External interference’ has become obsolete and irritating with the current state of sports development in some countries, using Nigeria as a case study. One may argue that it is a universal law hence why should Nigeria be an exemption. Yes! Nigeria is driven by a bunch of corrupt leaders – and that’s putting it mildly.

The attempted removal of the President was occasioned by what the members termed gross embezzlement of the funds set aside for the soccer mondial. The fart in the NFF smelt round the world when the Super Eagles players refused to train till all their entitlements were paid. We all know what happened next; how President Goodluck Ebele Jonathan called the players personally to resolve the issue. In fact, this has become a reoccurring decimal in the life of the national soccer body.

Did FIFA at this point not see it as external interference? Why did it not ban Nigeria at this point in time?

We are aware the Nigerian government is the backbone of sports in Nigeria. That is why year in and out, Nigerians suffer in the form of tax to raise the money for the government to finance these events in the annual budget. Is it possible telling someone to put his/her money where his/her mouth isn’t?

Let us approach this matter practically from a layman’s view: assuming I sent my small brother to the market and he came back without justification for my money, them am supposed to fold my hand and watch him or even clap for him just because Dad said we shouldn’t beat our younger ones. No way! He’ll either produce my money or I’ll beat silliness out of him.

If FIFA should insist on NO EXTERNAL INFLUENCE then it should be ready to take up responsibility on total financing of the game globally unless it creates a clause in its constitution for an exemption because the current policy stands more for corruption than the independence of the game.

Why did fire have to engulf the financial offices of the Glass House and not any other place? And why is it happening now that people are pointing fingers?

Listening to the Radio Nigeria programme, ‘Radio Link’ on Saturday 23rd August 2014, I learnt from one of the guests Mr Austin Mgbolu, former spokesman of the NFA that he had five levels of communication with FIFA and that he was surprised how some of the FIFA decisions eludes him till it come on a letter headed paper. This again draws my mind to how mischievous Nigerians could be. I will advise the NFF to verify the authenticity of any letter that comes to it before acting in accordance and on the part of FIFA, they should file such information which may seem trivial under the respective countries on their web pages for easy verification of its authenticity.

Finally, I present a passionate appeal which am sure represents the supressed murmur of most Nigerians at the moment to the warring parties of the NFF: sheath your sword and lock your barrels for the sake of the young talented Nigerian youths whose career and dreams you are toiling with. Imagine if the initial ban was upheld, we won’t be talking Nigerian Falconets getting to the finals in the 2014 U20 Women Wold Cup and probably lifting the cup. The likes of Asisat Oshoala – who I call in my own words SUPER STRIKER because she reminds me of Shegs Okoro in that comic book – and Sunday and a host of others wouldn’t have reached the level of success they recorded and also would have missed playing at that level all their life.

It is my sole prayer that Leaders – no matter how small the post – in Africa would emulate the life of the great Madiba, the great Nelson Mandela and shun the sit-tight mentality, learn to quit power easily when they perceive they are no longer wanted by the people, learn to give way after one tenure in office knowing that no one can do it all.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014


Travel is said to be a great part of learning. Basically, travel is either for business or pleasure and rarely both. This time I travelled for the latter (tourism). Born and brought up in the city of Makurdi, capital of one of the North Central states of Nigeria. I often got mystified when conditions of rural dwellers were narrated. Most times I nod in the gist to the comfort of the teller while convincing myself that those tales were merely exaggerated to gain audience.

Come the fall of 2012, I decided to see for myself. As widely known, ‘charity begins at home’, I took a trip to Echori, a village in Obi local of same state, notorious for its savage lands. The trip was not in short of enthusiasm as can be expected of any tourist expedition.

We got to a junction from which a dirt road branched off. The driver turned to us and said, “This is the farthest I can go”.

Our heart skipped as we got down and pondered on what next. I almost forgot to say I went with a friend, just in case. Two motorcyclists came and stopped.

“Where una dey go?” One of them asked in broken English.

“We want to get to Echori,” I said, “How much?”

“Oga, two of you seven hundred but one person na five hundred,” the motorcyclist explained.

We hired the two in the end. As we went deeper into what seemed like a forest, we met other cyclist plying the road. I was convinced my thoughts had demeaned the exaggerated gory tales of rural dwellers. A village with such huge number of motorcycles must be more civilized than speculated. Isn’t it?

Further in, we were greeted with houses made of mud bricks – not plastered – and rusty zincs or thatches. That moment, the reality of how wrong I might have been hit me. On arrival, at the place the cyclists advised us to go because we could easily get accommodation, children rounded us – most of them cladded only on dirty pants.

We intended spending a week but realism cut the tour to two days: the only borehole – manual by the way – released only one bucket of water every three hours, there was nothing like electricity because they were cut off from national grid, the houses where apologetic. There was no way I could endure longer.

Besides the odd stories, good stories also abound: as little as two hundred naira could prepare you a sumptuous full pot of nutritious soup because of the low cost of living.

What captivated me the most was how little children would poo-poo and rub their butt on sand afterward. We took photographs of the kids, albeit they were shy at first. When we prepared to leave, we left behind cutlery, toiletries, clothes and so on. At least am sure they’ve had the experience of wiping their butt with tissue paper till I return – that is, IF I would ever return.