Several days earlier had seen Chelsea fans holding rallies in several parts of the country notably Port Harcourt and Lagos, waving flags and banners and parading in a convoy of buses. It brought back to memory the days of the gubernatorial campaigns especially the PDP/AC battle in Lagos State.
Fast forward 2 hours, and the match had progressed into penalties. You could actually feel the whole city hold its breath. Somewhere in the east, a die-hard United fan passed out in the anxiety of the moment. Finally, Manchester United won and a great uproar went out. That was when the pandemonium began. Celebrations led to free-for-all fights in several places - as is almost always expected in such situations. Somewhere in Lagos, a fight broke out over the redemption of bets and broken bottles were freely utilized. Sadly, several lives were lost and many were wounded at the end of the day.
Now, here was a football tournament which took place in Europe with very few Nigerian players playing. The final match was played by an American owned club and a Russian owned club. Yet, Nigerians were ready to give their lives for the game. On the streets, about 1 out of every 5 cars has a Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal or Liverpool sticker displayed on its shields. Some have stickers so large they obstruct vision. In many offices, football is always the first discussion of the day. A lot of energy is used on a tournament that has nothing to do with our progress as a people or a nation.
It's all well to celebrate the win of Manchester. When last did we celebrate our country?
It's all well to identify with a foreign club and know everything about its history. When last did we identify with a Nigerian issue or the history behind the problem?
It's all well to have stickers, banners and plaques of teams in your car. Have you ever put a Nigerian flag or coat of arms in your car?
It's all well to use our energy during rallies and matches. When last did we use our energies for a community cause?
Today is Democracy Day in Nigeria, and as we celebrate the anniversary of our transition from military rule, let's celebrate Nigeria, and let's pledge to do our own little part in making Nigeria better, because when the cards are down, Nigeria is all we really have, and we have to live with and in it.
God bless Nigeria.