By Ayo Akinfe
(1) Last night, Bahrain’s Salwa Eid Naser won the women’s 400m at the World Athletics Championship in 48.14 seconds. It was the third fastest time in history
(2) I for one refuse to congratulate her, however, because she is living a lie. Her real name is Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu and she is Nigerian through and through from Anambra State. Deep down, her heart is with Naija
(3) When Ebelechukwu retires, is she going to stay in Bahrain? Will they accept her as one of theirs once the fame and stardom is gone? Will they ever revere her the way we revere say Falilat Ogunkoya or Mary Onyali?
(4) In 2013, Ebelechukwu won the Nigerian Schools Championship in Port Harcourt and almost immediately in 2014, she switched allegiance to Bahrain, converted to Islam and changed her name. Does she really feel happy with herself? How many Anambrans do you know that would happily convert to Islam, adopt Arab names and turn their back on their heritage for a pot of gold, or more appropriately, a mess of porridge
(5) I could never compete for any other country no matter how much you paid me. Living and working abroad is one thing but wearing another country’s colours and competing against Nigeria is another. I put it to you all that competing against Nigeria pricks the conscience of all these athletes who have gone off in search of foreign riches
(6) We can all understand the plight of those athletes born and bred in foreign lands who are second and third generation diasporans and only Nigerian by name but it is different for people like our Ebelechukwu here. Drapping yourself in the colours of another country must surely burn a deep hole in her heart. When she is in the stadium and they play Arise o Compatriots, does she pretend she does not understand the words? How does she block the sound out of her head?
(7) I know a lot of people will talk about corruption in high places, the incompetence of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria, no social programme for athletes, bla, bla, bla but a nation is built on the spirit of its people. If we are waiting for everything to be perfect before giving Nigeria our best, we will remain perpetually under-developed
(8) I fully agree with John F Kennedy when he said: “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” Basically, what this means is that if Nigeria is crap, it is our job to fix it. Stop hiding behind the excuse of poor leadership
(9) I fail to see any difference between those selfish and greedy athletes who abandon Nigeria when we need them most and go off in search of Arabs dollars and the greedy politicians who stash our common wealth in those countries. They have the same mentality i.e me, me, me
(10) What depresses me the most is the number of Nigerians who think like Ebelechukwu Agbapuonwu and Diezani Madueke. Do a people who have no qualms about drapping themselves in the flag of another nation really have the moral right to demand good governance?