A critical ingredient that is pivotal to the success of individuals, groups or institutions in any facet of life is the inculcation of discipline without which, there will be breakdown in cohesion and accomplishment of goals.
A major reason for the sorry state of affairs in our country Nigeria today and which has resulted in our embarrassing image in the comity of civilized people is the total lack of discipline in both our private and public lives. This pervasive indiscipline is so embarrassing. Unless and until there is disciplined and concerted efforts by the citizenry, institutions and government to tackle this scourge, our journey out of the woods may be a mirage.
A typical manifestation of indiscipline was exhibited recently by the Super Eagles Captain; Joseph Yobo who recently embarrassed Coach Stephen Keshi following his exclusion from the team that played Kenya in the World cup qualifier in Calabar. One would not have been interested in joining this ugly debate in order not to make a fuss out of a matter that ordinarily should have been dismissed with the wave of the hand, but due to the fact that our people have a saying that “Igi gogoro ma gun ni loju, ati oke la tin wo”, which literally means that you ward off impending danger by advanced maneuvering. This type of embarrassment has become a recurring decimal in the Super Eagles and has the potential to cause a bigger harm to the image and psyche of our people at a global stage if not addressed now.
One is disturbed that Joseph Yobo who by virtue of his position ought to be the symbol of discipline in the national team and is supposed to be closest player and confidant of his coach can be so childish in toeing the footsteps of Osaze Odemwingie whom he responded to in the aftermath of Osaze’s tweet concerning his exclusion from the Super Eagles nation’s cup squad and I quote “Osaze has been reckless, disrespectful to most people. He’s not a kid, he should grow up because we cannot continue to baby sit him,” So, we may ask, is Yobo not also guilty of his assertion against Osaze? Also Emmanuel Emenike only recently joined this bandwagon of childish attitude which has become part and parcel of the Super Eagles players but which is indiscipline with regards to the National team coach concern for his treatment situation in the USA.
Also one is disappointed that Joseph Yobo who ought to be eternally grateful to the Nigerian people for the rare privilege of playing for the Super Eagles out of a population of over 160 million people and to Coach Keshi for keeping faith by retaining him as the Senior National team captain after the 2012 Nations cup Fiasco of which he was a key actor can insult our national pride which Coach Keshi symbolizes by virtue of his position. By being disrespectful to Keshi, Yobo was by extension showing disrespect to Nigeria football faithfuls and so must be sanctioned because Keshi’s mandate as national team coach is held in trust on our behalf.
One can also recollect that immediately after coach Keshi released his provisional team list for the last nations cup in South Africa, Joseph Yobo was one of the very few who stood solidly behind his coach and even scored him 95 percent, thus one is surprised that he is crying wolf now that he has been excluded.
However, one is disappointed and must warn the NFF to immediately put a stop to its desire, going by recent media reports of mediating in the feud between Coach Keshi and Joseph Yobo. Which feud and between whom? The responsibility of managing the national team belongs to the national coach who bears the brunt for its success and failures and who must be disciplined and bold enough to appreciate this fact. The issue at stake is indiscipline pure and simple and the only way forward for the football body if it has the larger and long term interest of our football at heart is to encourage the national team handlers to wield the big stick on undisciplined players before they pass on this rotten baton to upcoming dedicated players who are still in need of mentoring.
In the final analysis, one would like to draw the attention of the general public to the fact that even Yobo himself admitted that the last AFCON may have been his last at 32, and went further to harp on the need to allow younger players to get their chance. This indeed is the time for Yobo to honour his words by calling it a day on his international career because he has served his country meritoriously and we will all be glad to honour him with a testimonial any time soon.
(Ekujumi is Executive Director,
Centre for Rights and Grassroots Initiative (CRGI)
26a Adesina Street, Ikeja, Lagos.
He can be reached on:08023172694, 07033853232)