he last one week has been tense for many Nigerians including me. While we were gripped by election fever, a news item eluded some Nigerians. On Sunday, February 19, Shooting Stars of Ibadan hosted Akwa Ibom United in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL). Before the match started, something bizarre happened. The Camp Commandant of Shooting Stars, Auwal Mohammed, went to the centre circle of the pitch, brought out his penis and urinated on the spot.
Some people took it as the typical attitude of some undisciplined Nigerians. They urinate anywhere they are pressed. On the ever busy Ikorodu Road and Lekki Expressway, if there is a serious tragic jam, people simply come out of their cars and urinate on the road, not even by the side of the road. A Nigerian who has been living abroad for many years returned to Nigeria some years ago. Then the Murtala Mohammed International Airport had not been upgraded, but the airport has always had toilets. But the guy got outside to the lawn where the car that came to pick him up was packed and urinated on the lawn before entering the car. I just shook my head; he could not have dared do that in America where he was coming from. The one that amuses me most are some visitors. They visit and spend time with their hosts in the house. When they want to leave, their hosts would walk them to their vehicles. The next thing, they urinate in the open drain or any available space outside before entering their cars. Meanwhile, they could have requested to use their hosts’ toilets before stepping out. I can never understand it.
People often blame indiscriminate urinating on the absence of public toilets in Nigeria, but it is not true. It is not as if public toilets are all over the place in Europe and America. In some train stations in Europe, for instance, you can only have access to the toilets if you are a passenger. They are situated in places where non-passengers do not have access to. But I concede that public toilets are more readily available there than in Nigeria.
But as far as I am concerned, it is indiscipline that makes people to urinate indiscriminately. Before I leave my house, the last thing I do is to use the toilet. If I visit you that is also the last thing I do before leaving, unless I am not pressed. If I find myself on a “wicked” Lagos tragic jam and I am pressed, I stop at a petrol station, bank or any other public place and ask to use their toilet. I have never been denied unless it is not available or faulty. I concede that many of such toilets are either dirty or in a terrible state. If it is just to urinate, no problem, but if you want to do the big one, the experience can be terrible. We do not have good maintenance culture in this part of the world. But I do not accept the excuse of absence of public toilets makes Nigerians to urinate indiscriminately. My policy is: if it is wrong when I travel abroad, it cannot be right when I am in Nigeria. The only exception is when I travel, for instance, from Lagos to Delta by road. If the driver stops for others to ease themselves, I sometimes join them, but if we are going to stop at Ore for passengers to eat, I wait until I get there and use the toilet of the eatery.
Anyway, I did not believe Auwa Mohammed urinated on the pitch because he was pressed. The spot where he urinated makes me suspect he did it for fetish reasons. I grew up to know that many people believed you needed to do juju to win a competitive football match. When we were in secondary school, inter-school soccer matches were very popular. The sports prefect would collect N50 kobo or N1 per student (a tin of sardine was between 14 kobo to 20 kobo and a tin milk was from 9 kobo to 20 kobo. That should give the younger generation the value of 50 kobo and N1 then). I remember a particular match. My school lost to the other school. To justify our loss, the sports prefect came back with a tale that the same native did the juju for both teams, but he found out that if we won the match, there would be bloodshed because the other school had numbers and they were very brutal. So he made our juju weaker!
Looking back, I feel it was all scam. To start with, the sports prefect never wrote the names of all the students he collected money from. When the principal asked him to give an account of the money he collected, he submitted the list names he wrote. We heard he shared the money unaccounted for with some prefects and powerful seniors. No be today scam start.
Our social prefect was also caught in such a scam. He allegedly collected about N500 to buy music records, but did not spend up to N200. Then he was an enigma and no one had the courage to ask questions. What finally demystified him was during GCE examinations. Then the culture was for the final year students to contribute money and buy expo (leaked examination question papers). He was one of the ones in charge. When the final year students got to the exams hall they found out that the questions were different from the expo questions that guided them in preparations. His mates, especially those who put all their hopes in expo to pass, were livid. They requested for a refund, which of course was not forthcoming. There was tension and a big fight followed later in school.
Back to juju and soccer, let me say ab initio that I was born into a Christian family. I have remained a Christian all my life. I do not patronise native doctors, so I am not in a position to discuss the efficacy of the practice. But I have a strong feeling that the so called native doctors who did juju for us in secondary school scammed us. They just took advantage of our teenage naivety.
Is there a correlation between juju and sports, soccer, to be specific? If yes, how come no African country has won the world? Even Haiti that is known for voodoo practice has played in only one cup, 1974, and lost all the three matches they played. I can confidently say, as a soccer fan, that when it comes to soccer, success is dependent on hard work, natural gifts, dedication, organisation, among other factors that have nothing to do with juju.
GOVERNORSHIP AND HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY ELECTION
Next Saturday is the governorship and senatorial elections. INEC promised so such, but has fallen short of expectations so far. Notwithstanding the outcomes show that voters are the kings. Some former and current political office holders have been repaid for their wickedness, high handedness and poor performance. No reward for poor performance. The electorate must punish more contestants next weekend. INEC should clean up its act before the governorship election to avoid previous lapses. Nigeria is making progress.