Those Who Fail to Plan on FIFA and Others

No one expected that Nigeria will lift the World Cup. Not many either expected such a gross non-performance. Perceptible football followers knew that the Nigeria’s participation in South Africa 2010 would be a misadventure. Those who do not plan should of necessity be prepared to fail. Nigeria’s football team the Super Eagles were among the worst prepared teams for the tournament. The result is what we got.

Despite funneling billions of Naira into the wild goose chase, the team posted one of the most despicable outings in the nation’s football history. Surprisingly, everybody is aghast as if we merited any better.

Teams that excel in the global football fiesta usually commence preparations for the next immediately after the last. They do not wait till three weeks before the tournament before doing what others had begun four years earlier and expect a miracle. It is all about planning, preparation and commitment to getting results. It is all about doing the right things.

But come to think of it: Is this failure not symbolic of how we live as a nation? Almost everything is done in fits and starts: no planning, no consistency and no commitment, yet we expect the whole world to wait for us to turn the bend and attain some self-proclaimed lofty dreams. Our government has been chiming the rhyme Vision 2020. Billions of naira is daily forked out of our commonwealth to print documents, which we all know will never work. The way things are, in 10 years time we may still be quibbling over self-same problems that confront us today as a nation.

Think of electricity. For many years, the infrastructure was not renewed, neither was it maintained, until it has attained decadence of superlative proportion. Now, close to $20 billion had been thrown at it in the past ten years, and light has refused to surface at the end of the tunnel. Yet in Ghana, Benin Republic and other less endowed countries electricity supply is taken for granted.  It will be trite recounting the enormous constraints this has posed to the country’s economic growth and development.

Think of agricultural sector. Nigeria in the early days of her independence was sustained by agricultural proceeds, with palm oil in the East, cocoa in the West and groundnuts in the North. With the influx of petrodollar in the early 70s, agriculture was abandoned for the aged and the infantine, as the neon light and the glitterati of the city drew away the youth and the able-bodied to the city. The groundnut pyramids of the North have disappeared, while cocoa struggles to remain relevant. In case of palm oil, the country has become a net importer of the product which it the leading producer.

Of the three, the case of palm oil appears to be the most pathetic and accentuates the problem of our plan-less-ness in the the most profound way. Malaysia took the oil palm seeds away from Nigeria several years ago. Malaysia today is the world’s second-largest exporter of palm oil after Indonesia. The two countries account for 85 percent of global production of palm oil. Last year alone, palm oil exports by Malaysia amounted to $15 billion. Nigeria now imports the produce from Malaysia. What an irony?

In Nigeria, all things are topsy-turvy. Even the petroleum sector, the goose that lays the golden egg, hardly smacks of consistent planning. A country that is seventh crude oil producer in the world, do not have functional refineries. They import refined products from other countries, some of which are non-producer.

What happened in this World Cup outing is not isolated case. Hounding Sanni Lulu and company out of the Glass House is just addressing a symptom not the disease. Whatever achievement that may come from whatever reforms that may come from this abysmal showing would only last for a cycle.  The country ought to take a more comprehensive look of the way we are, think through the systematic challenges, and imbibe planning as part of national ethos.

Until then, this country will continue to meet defeat and failures in every turn. Those who do not plan are planning to fail. For Nigeria, this South Africa 2010 World Cup football fiasco is good lesson that should make us think.

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