Thursday, 16 October 2014

Man-United, Moyes and Nigeria

Man-United, Moyes and Nigeria
This week’s piece is rather light hearted.
Manchester United football club, on Tuesday the 22nd of April, sacked their manager, David Moyes, after only ten months into his six-year contract. In many quarters, this was not unexpected. This season, 2013/2014, has been a rather tortuous one for the club and its teeming fans. Going to any viewing centre or joint where people come to watch these matches while downing some beers and isiewu, the Red Devils’ fans have become quite subdued lately. They have approached most of their matches this season, even with non-descript teams, with so much reticence and trepidation for lack of confidence as to the likely outcome as it has been the most shambolic season for the club in the last half of a century. It is more disheartening for the team and its fans that they had entered the season not just as the defending champions but favourites. However, their “noisy nieghbours” and sister Manchester club whom they had always trounced, Manchester City Football Club, deafened and out-gunned them. Their home ground, Old Trafford, which hitherto was theartre of dreams, became a theatre of nightmares as they seemed to even lose more matches there. Beer, at joints, became sour and isiewu tasteless in the mouth of fans as all the Chelsea and Mourinho followers became pestilent with their jeering and a mirage of a wind began to fill in the lungs of Arsenal FC fans too long asphyxiated with lack of silverware, to the point of nuisance.
However, only a season ago, Man- United had been the team to beat under the stewardship of the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson. For twenty-six year they dominated English football and the English Premier League trophy practically became theirs, with other teams only managing to have a feel of it for one or two seasons only to return it to the certified “owners”. But like with everything in life, an end must come and Ferguson had to go. He chose Moyes as successor on whom the sobriquet “The Chosen One” was dubbed. One guesses that nobody expected that Moyes would easily fill the shoes left by Ferguson, for they were very big indeed, but as it would turn out, these shoes became just too big for him. People, fans especially, probably did not expect that he would win any trophy and they did not hope for any, at least for now; but at least they expected some promise. They were ready to give him time to build his own system and carve his own niche in the club as it had become clear that United had become Ferguson and Ferguson, United. But as much as the season has gone so far, Moyes never sparked much promise. It is easily conceivable, therefore, that the management of the club lets him go. In life, no matter how low anybody can go, there are irreducible minimums; and for a club of the pedigree of United, Moyes has performed below its irreducible minimum and go he had to.
Irreducible minimums: this is what brings the question of Nigeria into all of this talk about the sack of David Moyes. Even though Nigeria could not quite be said to have flown the heights that Man-United had done before the coming of Moyes, everybody had always seen her potentials and she had towered above many others in Africa and beyond. We have been in this democracy thing since 1999 and it has been absolutely evident that this country has been very under-led and at no time has the impact of this mis-leadership been more manifest than now. This problem is not just at the federal but at all levels of our national life. Just as with United, erstwhile “noisy neighbours” whom, as a nation, we were head and shoulders above and who used to look up to us as big brother now laugh at us and treat us even with disdain and scorn. Small countries around no longer take us seriously. The other time, Robert Mugabe took a passing swipe at Nigeria and it would take the Nigerian government three solid months before they would realize and attempt to respond; an eloquent proof of the quality of leadership in the country.
The difference between United and Nigeria is realizing who the boss is. In a democracy, the people are the boss but the Nigerian people have failed to accept the fact that they are now the boss. These bad Nigerian leaders actually are the ones playing boss. Nigerians have also allowed themselves to be hoodwinked by these bad leaders with religion, ethnicity and all manner of sectarian devices, therefore they do not have the incentive to be able to identify bad leadership and deal with it appropriately.
We must learn to fire people in leadership positions if they fail to deliver regardless of whatever. There must be irreducible minimums, below which we must be prepared to take nothing else. The bosses in Man-United were able to fire Moyes after only ten months into a six-year term. Most offices in Nigeria are for less than six years and so non-performing holders may damn well be fired at anytime.

Published on BLUEPRINT Newspaper April, 2014

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