In his recent meeting with leaders of the country’s two major political parties, the All Progressive Congress, APC and the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, President Muhammadu Buhari made what I consider to be his most remarkable statement after “I belong to everybody, I belong to nobody”. He said; “…opposition does not mean hostility, enmity or antagonism. Democracy needs opposition, one which is vibrant but responsible”.
Whether history gives Mr. President away as one who walks the talk or not, is inconsequential. What is important is the fact in his remarks which unfortunately, is a true reflection of the Nigerian political system. For most Nigerians, opposition has only one definition; a persistent attack on the government. Almost every part of the country measures the strength of an opposition party by the level of antagonism it gives to the government in power. That is why the stupidity of Fayose is celebrated as heroic by Nigerians. From hate-mongering, hostility, and intolerance, opposition in Nigeria has degenerated to Baalism. In Nigeria, the opposition at all levels, paints the government as a deadly plague, and elevates falsehood like the biblical fiery serpent for the people to look up to and be saved. Even the national flag is flying at half-mast because falsehood has taken over the top of the pole.
Lately, Akwa Ibom has been most unfortunate because politics has turned a huge chunk of her very active citizens to Baal prophets with the tendencies of opposing anything good. Most opinion leaders/shapers, information managers, and media practitioners in both public and private firms, and people who should be leading advocates of peace, unity and togetherness; and defenders of truth and morals, are now the major purveyors of hate, deception and falsehood. They wear the mask of patriotism on a face of destruction. They are the real enemies of the State. Our only consolation is that from our past experiences, this ‘land of promise’ has always been a very fertile ground for the wheats, thorns and thistles; they blossom in the morning, and by sunset, they are either harvested or they wither. Only the land lives on.
The ‘Nest of Champions’ is one project in the state that has been subjected to multiple controversies in. The unending media criticisms, conflicting reports, wild claims and counter claims on the stadium are probably as old as when the stadium was a mere idea in the last administration. At first, the idea of building a befitting international stadium in the state, to many was another avenue for the then government to squander the state resources. The government took it further by acquiring 48 hectares of land somewhere in Uyo for the project; the host communities threatened fire and brimstone. When the contract was awarded in 2012 to Julius Berger at a construction cost of about $96 million, naysayers called it a “white elephant project”. Between 2012 and 2014 when the construction lasted, the project faced heaps of controversies and criticisms. For instance, it was once rumored that the Commissioner in charge of the supervising Ministry connived to shortchange the state by reducing the stadium road from the initial 8-lane to 4-lane. The stories and resistance went on and till the stadium was completed and ready for commissioning.
With the official opening of the stadium on 7 November, 2014, one would have thought that the era of unwarranted attacks and false prophesies on the stadium is over. But it was only starting. First, the then Governor Godswill Akpabio came under heavy criticism for wasting the state’s money to bring three former African presidents to witness the commissioning of a mere stadium. Whether the critics were right or wrong, I cannot say. But what I can categorically say is that today, the stadium serves the entire Africa. Then, came the rumors that FIFA will not approve the stadium for international matches because it did not have complete facilities. That too, turned out to be wrong. During his swearing-in ceremony on May 29, 2015, Governor Udom Emmanuel renamed the Stadium as Godswill Obot Akpabio International Stadium, and all hell was let loose. That was the birth of the Baal prophets, who attributed everything that went wrong at the stadium to the name. Whenever there was power outage or a facility broke down in the stadium, they blamed it on the name.
Since the stadium started serving as a home to the Nigerian Super Eagles and the state team, Akwa United FC, these prophets of falsehood have had a filled time. From claiming that the Stadium is cursed because it was built with blood money to declaring that the stadium is jinxed owing to streak of bad results from the home teams. Across the world, even the best football teams, whether countries or clubs, lose games in their home stadium. The famous Old Wembly Stadium was a fortress for the England team. Yet ‘The Three Lions’ suffered over 30 defeats at the stadium. After 200 premier league games at the Emirate Stadium as at January 2017, Arsenal FC suffered a record 23 defeats. Barcelona FC occasionally suffers defeat at Camp Nou. So, it is preposterous for people to blame a team’s poor performance on some non-existent curse or jinx in the Stadium.
Last Friday’s Super Eagles superb performance and four-nill victory over the Cameroonians completely discredited the claims that the stadium is cursed. But just when the state was about to have a sigh of relief, these anti-stadium campaigners vigorously maligned Govern Udom Emmanuel’s cash reward to the Super Eagles. They just will not give up. Will they? Their latest venture is a further testament to their deep-seated hatred for the government of the state. If the governor had failed to reward the players for their hardwork, the same people will be the first to criticise the governor for being insensitive, and even advice him to learn from the federal government’s gesture towards De’Tigress. They have even gone further with a skewed argument that the stadium has no economic benefit to State. The question is, which class of benefits should we place the sharp increase of economic activities usually experienced in the State when matches are hosted at the stadium? Evidently, these people are too deeply rooted in Baalism to be converted. History has adjudged them as false prophets, and posterity will most definitely affirm the judgement. So for me, as far as the Nest of Champions is concerned, it is end of discussion with every Baal prophet.
By the way, I heard that in this 2017, NTA is still using the 1986 version of Nigerian States and capital. While we are still battling to upgrade our own AKBC on Google play store, NTA came with their own archaicNESS. So, it is that small glory that is not even enough for us to share in Uyo, that NTA wanted giving to Calabar? Tufia’kwa! Tufia’kwa! Tufia’kwa! Holy Ghost fayayayayaya