Why Football Is Nigeria’s Unifying Factor: Nobody Cared That Players Who Modelled The New Jerseys Are Igbo

Posted on February 12 2018 , at 11:28 am
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Sports is the only thing that unites people of the world. It is the only activity that makes people set aside their beliefs and sentiments and come together. Sports is that activity. Didn’t North Korea just make up with South Korea at the Winter Olympics?

In Nigeria, we hold tenaciously to our often wrong sentiments and ethnic stereotypes: Igbo people are cunning, they love money a lot; the Yorubas are demons; the Hausas are very naive and are useful only for mai-guards, Edo witches and so on.

Last week, Nigeria’s football team, the Super Eagles unveiled the jersey for this year’s World Cup competition in Russia.

Four of Nigeria’s current roster namely Alex Iwobi, Mikel Obi, Kelechi Iheanacho and Wilfred Nididi were chosen to model the new kits. The news was that the team had a world-class jersey that excited Nigerians. Several people have expressed their desire to purchase them once they go on sale. Nobody noticed, or cared that all four of them are from the eastern part of Nigeria.

In a country where politicians select running mates of another ethnicity and religion only for election purposes, and where mutual suspicion has been rife in recent years, only football can have this kind of arrangement and not raise an eyebrow.

For years politicians have paid lip service to the issue of unity and ‘One Nigeria’. But their policies hardly reflect that- Nigerians are still required to fill their states of origin for forms as basic as acquiring a post office box.

Perhaps the time has come for them to learn from football that citizens have a common goal- happiness and fulfillness- and if they can deliver that like the Super Eagles do for the country; tribalism could soon be a thing of the past.

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