by Stanley Azuakola
Almost two months have gone by since their triumph at the African Cup of Nations, but Nigeria’s football team are still reaping the fruits of their conquest.
After their draw on Saturday with the Harambee stars of Kenya in Calabar, the team was invited to Uyo, the Akwa Ibom state capital, where the governor of that state hosted them in a banquet at the Government House, and doled out the sum of N36.5 million.
He gave each of the 23 footballers the sum of N1 million. Super Eagles Chief Coach, Stephen Keshi got N2 million, the three assistant coaches received N1 million each while 17 back room officials got N.5 million each.
Akpabio also donated one three-bedroom flat to Akwa Ibom-born and Super Eagles Captain, Vincent Enyeama.
“We celebrate you. To you the players, you are the icons. For the coaches, we were praying collectively for you. You are the future of this country,” he said.
The governor of Akwa Ibom has been in the news for all sorts of reasons in the last two months – from plotting with Aso Rock to check deviant PDP governors, to donating cars to celebrities, to endowing a ‘Goodluck Jonathan’ award for Nollywood, to donating N6 million for lunch at Mr. Biggs for his party’s state chairmen in the South South and to confessing that he personally rigged an election to favour a candidate from a particular zone of the state.
He has no apologies for his role as chairman of the PDP Governors’ Forum and he has not responded yet to the online video which saw him boasting of using his hand to cancel the name of the winner of the PDP senatorial primary. However, he used Sunday’s banquet to blast critics of his unrelenting donations, especially the press, accusing them of suffering from a colonial mentality.
He said that his donations are captured in the state’s annual budget as grants.
“At this point of our existence, what should be important to Nigerians is development, unity and security challenges and not frivolous thing.
“Nigeria is a place where bad news is good news. Nigerian press has not yet learnt. From the West African Pilot, the press was set up in Nigeria to fight the colonial masters and to fight for independence. Many years after the colonial masters left, the Nigerian press is still fighting government and up till now they still don’t know that the colonial masters have gone,” the governor said.
Speaking further, he said:
“If I donate to the church and you get angry with me should I donate to Satan?” Akpabio asked.
Despite the fact that the governor and his party frequently tout the ‘transformation’ going on in the country on other times, he said something contradictory at the banquet.
“We hardly see anything to celebrate about,” he said. ” That’s why when you did the miracle you did in South Africa, you brought back the Nigerian spirit. You gave even a three-year-old Nigerian child something to celebrate by winning the cup.”
Advising the Eagles, he said “Now that God has given you a coach; you have to respect him and be disciplined. Without discipline, you cannot be successful.
“Hold unto God and call on Him always. It is not a tragedy when a non-entity becomes a failure. But it is a tragedy when a potentially achieving, young man becomes a a failure on account of character flaw. Your victory becomes a turning point in the nation. The Federal Government’s transformation policy cannot be complete if the youths are not transformed.”