AFCON 2023Opinion

SUPER EAGLES: Data Analysis Of Team Composition: Patriotism Over Parochialism 

By Val Obienyem (Real Author Unknown) 

FACTS:

* 12 Igbos out of 25 players

* 22 Christians out of 3 Muslims

* 21 Southerners out of 4 Northerners

* 12 states, Imo, Edo, Abia, Kogi, Rivers, Akwa Ibom, Benue, Enugu, Anambra, Kebbi, Kano, Borno out of 36 States

* 12 Igbos, 5 Yorubas, 3 Binis, 3 Hausa Fulani, 1 Ibibio, 1 Idoma, 1 Bakor (Cross River).

I carried out a prescriptive and a diagnostic data analysis on the Super Eagles and the findings might shock some of you. The Descriptive analysis has turned out raw numbers into information that has made it easy for me to interpret the composition of the squad. While the diagnostic analysis has enabled me discover the reason behind our current success in the ongoing AFCON campaign. But let’s be very clear, each player had to be the best in his craft to make it into the national team but many times in Nigeria we have sacrificed skills for self, competence for corruption. But not in this case.

This is what the analysis showed. Out of 25 players, 12 players are of Igbo parentage. That means players of Igbo origin make up almost half of the entire squad, the highest ethnic group in the team. And here is what is interesting, players of Yoruba parentage come second with 5 players.

What about religion? Out of the 25 member squad , 21 are Christians, while 3 are Moslems.

Geo-politically the data showed, there are 22 players from Southern Nigeria, while 4 players are from the North.

Super Eagles AFCON 2023 huddle Cameroon

Here is something else that was quite interesting. There are 20 players from 12 states in the team. What this shows, 24 states out of 36 States in the Federation do not have indigenes in the squad. Note: I was unable to identify the State of origin of 3 players.

But here is what is most shocking. It’s not the findings or results of my data analysis that surprised me. It was the attitude of Nigerians. Nigerians that are pathologically sensitive about ethnicity, suddenly were not bothered about who is Igbo or Fulani; it is all about WINNING!

Nobody is complaining. No petition has been filed against the NFA alleging tribalism in favour of the Igbos, Yorubas and Binis. No complaints, why Imo and Edo states seem to have the highest number of players in the squad.

Three sets of Nigerians will react to my findings. You will find those who will say – I can see marginalisation and ethnic politics in the squad. Why do I see only 3 or 4 tribes. These are Nigerians who are openly biased.

Then you have the second set of Nigerians who will read my analysis get irritated and say, “Please let us concentrate on winning this trophy we don’t need this analysis now, it is distracting”. These are Nigerians who are secretly tribalised and biased.

The 3rd set are true Patriots who will read the language of Patriotism in this write up. And who will celebrate competence over sentiment.

It is important I make it clear that my data analysis is not about the Super Eagles winning the AFCON Cup. AFCON will come and go. But I am looking at something much deeper. Something that will outlast this competition. The biggest prize yet. Our PATRIOTISM! It is no secret that inspite of our diversity, with our over 300 ethnic groups, Nigerians are able to display a unique and uncommon type of Patriotism not seen in other nations, not even in England. There is no Kanuri, Ijaw, Igbo or Fulani. No North nor South. How is this possible? And how can we use this Patriotism to impact our leaders and the masses, to make Nigeria truly the giant of Africa!

From the glory days of the Mighty Green Eagles up to the Super Eagles today, international football is the only national enterprise – that unites us as a nation and milks out of us the purest form of Patriotism any people can give a nation. Not even England can match Nigeria’s level of patriotism.

There is something hallowed and untouchable about international football in Nigeria. Our Eagles are like priests on the field as they salute the dreams and aspirations of every Nigerian to soar high as they open their mouths and sing, “Arise O Compatriots Nigeria’s call obey, To serve our Fatherland with love and strength and faith, The labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain, To serve with heart and might, One nation bound in freedom, Peace and Unity”.

Ready to go to war. For pride and country. These Eagle priests are decked in our national colours, the, “Deep Green Grass – Peace White – Fertility Green – flag; it’s more than a symbol, it is more than a colour. It’s the rich green blood that flows through this ancient land. The green blood that flows and irrigates the veins and the inland waterways that nourishes our Cocoa, Oil Palm, Cotton, Rubber, Groundnut and Cassava fields.

Many might disagree with what I am about to say now – but I don’t think there is any nation on earth that can match the Patriotism of Nigerians at international competitions. Not even mighty England whose clubs and English players we bow down to in absolute devotion. Have you ever heard a Nigerian miss a penalty or goal and we blamed his ethnicity or religion? Never! But do you know in the English national team if a black player misses a penalty kick – abuses, curses and insults by white English fans flood social media. In 2020 Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka were treated as, “just black” rather than English once they missed penalties in the Euro 2020. The racial slur was so bad the Prime Minister had to come out and apologise to Black British residents. Discrimination is not part of football in Nigeria. There are no Igbos, Hausas or Biroms players – we are all one tribe – one Nigeria! We are better than the English.

But guess what – just supposing members of the Super Eagles were suddenly made political appointees, what do you think would happen? I can tell you for free. Confusion of cataclysmic proportions would engulf the team and the nation. Competence, professionalism and experience would be relegated in favour of ethnicity, regionalism and religion. We would all want representation in the national team. Even my village Afaha Offiong would demand our very own world class goalkeeper Ikrang Ubek gets a spot in the national team. Since 2012 no ball has gone pass Ikrang’s legs at our inter-village matches in Nsit nation.

As for the Igbos their numbers would immediately be depleted as each state and tribe fields its own indigenes. And if William Troost-Ekong is the team captain at AFCON today – at the 2026 World Cup the captaincy would have to rotate to the North. Turn by turn. Not turn by competence.

Now, it is clear that Nigeria’s inability to move forward as a great nation is not corruption, tribalism or religion – those are mere symptoms. The real disease is the complete absence of that Patriotic zeal and Nationalistic fervour, the same selfless Patriotism we are witnessing today in our squad and among us the citizens as we hope for AFCON glory in our corporate Patriotic support. It’s such selfless passion that builds great nations. The same Patriotism that turned nations that we were on the same level with in 1960 – China, Brazil and even India into world powers today. Rather what we have in Nigeria is a primordial political desire to take ownership of the nation from our individual ethnic blocs. This is what has robbed Nigerians from moving as One Patriotic cohesive bloc. But in international football these divisions melt away, win or lose, we stand as one tribe called Nigeria.

Politically we don’t appear to be One Nigeria. Because we are deeply divided into blocs of ethnic Political, Economic and Religious interests. But in international football on the field, by some miracle all our parochial tendencies all seem to disappear, our One Nigerianess is celebrated. There is no Igbo, Yoruba, Annang, Idoma or Hausa. There is no Christian or Moslem. Only competence on the highway of GLORY. When a Nigerian or group of Nigerians aim for Glory, I have noticed there is no tribe or tongue. Nigerians are a people that thirst for GLORY. Because deep down we know we are the leaders and undisputed kings of the black race on the planet. Did you know 1 out of every 5 black person on earth is a Nigerian? Nigeria is the Moses of the Black race. There is a huge weight of responsibility to showcase the very best of the black race to the world. Excellence comes naturally to us. And all other black nations, black people and the world look up to us. We crave to be the best in everything that we do. This is why we are – Apolitical, excuse my language; Tribeless and Religionless when it comes to our national team. This is the sort of Patriotism that can propel Nigeria build the first Black rocket to the Moon.

The question therefore is – if our National team and International football bring out such Uncommon Patriotism from Nigerians – how can the Federal Government invest and sustain this Spirit of Patriotic cohesiveness inside and outside the pitch?

But perhaps the much bigger question is this – seeing that the national team draws us together, blinds and deafens our eyes and ears from the endemic parochialism which has crippled us over the years, can the Federal Government invest massively in the national team without politics sprouting from the wings of the Super Eagles? Is there a way of converting the velocity of this Patriotic zeal into other areas of nation building especially our economy? I

I am sure we can.

In conclusion from the prescriptive data one can say the current success of Nigeria is not because there are 12 Igbos out of 25 players, 22 Christians out of 3 Muslims, 21 Southerners out of 4 Northerners, 12 States out of 36 States. No! Diagnostically our current success can be attributed to the purest form of Patriotism exhibited by both players and the nation, you and I. Where tribe and tongue may differ in brotherhood we stand. In a land where Patriotism is defeating parochialism.

Finally I commend President Tinubu for the speedy and noiseless release of funds to the Super Eagles without any of the embarrassing money headlines.

Nigeria Can!

Let me re-echo the words of Senator Akpabio, the Senate President, “Bring home the trophy”.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

DATA:

GOAL KEEPERS

1. Stanley Nwabili – IGBO; Christian; LGA Ogba–Egbema–Ndoni Rivers State

2. Francis Uzoho – IGBO; Christian; LGA Nwangele Imo State, Nigeria.

3. Olorunleke Ojo -YORUBA (Okun tribe)Christian, LGA Edumo, Kabba-Bunu, Kogi State

DEFENDERS

4. William Troost Ekong – IBIBIO; Christian; LGA Etinan Akwa Ibom State

5. Bright Osayi-Samuel’s – BINI ; Christian; LGA Benin City Edo State

6. Ola Aina – YORUBA; Bio Unknown; Born in UK

7. Zaidu Sanusi – HAUSA FULANI; Moslem; Jega Local Government Kebbi State

8. Bruno Onyemaechi – IGBO; Christian; born in Owerri LGA (may not be his hometown), Imo State

9. Semi Ajayi – YORUBA; Christian; pob UK; State – Mother’s family in Lagos.

10. Calvin Bassey – IGBO; Christian; Pob Italy, State: Anambra; LGA: Umunnamehi Ihiala; Mother: Ebere Bassey Etim; Father: Kingsley Ikenna Ughelimba.

11. Chidozie Awaziem – IGBO; Christian; Enugu State.

12. Kenneth Omeruo – IGBO; Christian; Abia State (Likely)

13. Frank Onyeka – IGBO; Christian; State: Unknown; Pob: Benin City, Edo State

14. Joseph Temitope Aribo: YORUBA; Christian; Pob: UK

15. Alex Iwobi; IGBO; Christian; State Anambra State; LGA: Onitsha

16. Raphael Onyedika; IGBO; Christian; Imo State;

17. Alhassan Yusuf: HAUSA or FULANI; Moslem; Kano State

18. Kelechi Iheanacho: IGBO; Christian; Imo State (Likely)

19. Victor Oshimen: BINI; Christian; Edo State

20. Terem Igobor Moffi: BAKOR; Christian; Cross River

21. Samuel Chukwueze: IGBO; Christian; Abia State

22. Ademola Lookman: YORUBA; Christian

23. Moses Simon: IDOMA; Christian; Benue State

24. Paul Onuachu: IGBO; Christian; Imo State

25. Ahmed Musa: HAUSA OR FULANI; Moslem; Maiduguri, Borno State

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