By Daniel Reyenieju
In the pursuit for a better life, humanity has ceaselessly been toiling, tilling, hunting and gathering for as long as it has existed. The knowledge that was used to do wonders that include the Great Wall of China, pyramids in Egypt among others, are also being explored and exploited today to positive ends.
While some have benefited from these strides to greater ends, others have not been so lucky especially by undermining interests that should further their communities.
Several factors have militated developments that we should be privileged to have and they are social, psychological and political. At this point, I would limit it to our domain – Warri. Warri as used here includes the urban, pseudo-urban, rural, riverine; it also covers the leader, the led, the youth, the old.
The rebirth of democracy in 1999, with all the positives it gave birth to, has also left us struggling to mend our moral fabric as it is now with gaping holes. With recourse to where we are, nine stitches are to few to fix our fabric that needed just one.
There are rights we are entitled to but for the sake of the common good, one’s rights as the old saying goes, stops where those of another begins. Sometimes we have pushed undiplomatically, the good that should come at our peril and those developments are diverted elsewhere or are buried in time. There is also this sense of “arrogant entitlement” to the so called “deve”.
“Deve” has become a byword for oppression, self-inflicted deprivation and underdevelopment. Leader and elders who should lead by positive examples and who should be moral custodians of our value systems are now the ones who overtly and covertly pull the stings for deve. How many opportunities have we lost and what developmental milestones have we reached with such undoing? Just to jig our memory, the EPZ project is still stalled because of selfish interests that fail to take commonwealth into account.
The world as we know is a global village. The information we have access to in real time today could only have been imagined a few decades back. The implication of this therefore is that there is no hiding place for our shenanigans as those with bad experiences from us will write about those experiences and spread the word about our vices. We need to be more welcoming of contractors and investors. We need to put up positive postures that will make us an investor’s darling.
At this point, the onus is on the youths do defend their rights to gainful and painful means of livelihood. They must see all who use them to stop developmental projects as enemies of the people who’s only stock in trade is to ensure that nothing good come to our communities. Those kinds of persons no matter the attraction of their offers for foot soldiers should be resisted and shamed.
An investor likes to be aware of the environment it intends to but resources into. When there is a negative perception about the business or he proposed environment, the chances of citing the interest in a hostile community therefore becomes slim. The investor must feel safe as a human being and should also have an overwhelming sense of security for his investment. That sense of being secured breeds trust and endears the host community to more investments and possible expansion by already existing investors.
As a people, we have had the privilege of being gifted some of the finest talents that nature could ever deposit in humans. Without a doubt, Warri is densely populated with some of the finest scientists, engineers, administrators, diplomats, politicians and sports men who have situated us in a place of pride on the world’s map and it still has an overflowing river that keeps bursting its bank with talents that are ready to further the heights already attained.
Amaju Pinnick, the Nigeria Football Federation President, is proudly homegrown but he has set himself on a global stage with his administrative, political and diplomatic skills. At the 2018 World Cup, he ensured that the garment worn by the Super Eagles was designed by another Warri based fashion designer, Esimaje Awani, because he had seen potential. That year, Nigeria was judged the best dressed team in the world.
Attaining such feat, Amaju would have kept on nodding his head like the agama lizard that he has accomplished so much and enough for Warri but he has continued to seek out opportunities. This time, he has attracted none other than the spin master of the beautiful game, FIFA to develop talents globally in Warri.
Aware of the potential for social, diplomatic, political and economic potentials in sports generally and football in particular, FIFA started the GOAL project which is aimed at developing bespoke needs of individual countries of the association. Infrastructure is put in place and they include football pitches, training and tuition centers, office premises etc.
FIFA does not simultaneously roll out the GOAL programme among nations but it does so in a systematic manner when nations apply. Nigeria is about benefiting through the efforts of Amaju and the projects will be cited in Ugborodo and Kebbi.
In the shortest possible time, the contractors will be on site. The environmental impact the project will have will be a lightyears away from what years of oil exploration in our domain has brought us . It is not related to oil rather, human capital will be harnessed and developed.
We must all be proud of and own the project for all it is worth. The gains that it will bring are far-reaching as it will go beyond the project alone to the host community. This project could be a game-changer if only we give the needed support. To a large extent, Itsekiri youths should own this and go as far as volunteering their skills to bring it to fruition and not allow the leaders selfish interest which will always divide them and down the line to the smallest in the community derail this one.
If allowed to thrive, the project could see Ugborodo become a sports hub in the West African subregion because investors will feel attracted by the good that they see, the beauty of the host community, the security it gives their investment and the trust they would have developed over time.
To this end, we must eschew all vices that will delay or stall the FIFA GOAL project. Let’s win together for the benefit of us all and our generations to come.
Just my innocent thoughts and prayers.
Reyenieju, a former federal lawmaker, wrote from Warri, Delta State.