Sat. Apr 20th, 2024

Watching the presidential reception held in honour of the Super Eagles of Nigeria on their return from Ivory Coast, I am reminded of the saying that “Change comes from within”.

I had started to lose hope in Nigeria. I never believed that President Tinubu will represent renewed hope as his mantra goes. I did not vote for him, nor for any of the others. I had long chosen to stop getting worked up over Nigerian affairs.

All that changed this morning as I watched that reception as aired on Arise News. I have not decided that I would believe in Nigeria again, but at least, I can hope and here is why?

Unlike previous receptions, this one appeared believable and well thought through. It was inspiring and the promises were modest.

President Bola Tinubu spoke self-assuredly, with a genuine smile and had kind words for all the players in a personal way. It was a fatherly speech and not mere written and read demagoguery.

Even more heartwarming, kind, and genuine, were the words of the team members and the coach who were interviewed. None sounded entitled and arrogant. They also spoke good English.

The captain referred to the win as a collective one for him and his teammates, a sentiment that was re-echoed by the others who got the opportunity to speak.

Mind you, I am not a football fan, but I identify with the new Nigeria I saw through this tournament and Nigeria’s response to her second-place position.

For once in a long time, I heard people speak with depth, accommodation, modesty. The Super Eagles team I saw and heard, and their hosts, had it all in them.

I felt that Nwabali admirably gave his all, although I did not like it when he got involved in an altercation with an Ivorian player on the pitch.

I felt he could have avoided that distraction because I believe that strife always has an enervating effect. That said, I’m proud of the pressure he endured on that same pitch, for his country.

William Troost-Ekong responded to the President’s address on behalf of the contingent and he spoke so well. He touched on all the right cords and because he did not read his speech, I could tell that he spoke from a good heart.

A good heart is what today’s Nigeria really needs. Nigeria is in dire need of people who can do things from the heart- not for votes, optics, cash, or other gains.

Possibly, there’s still hope for Nigeria. A good-hearted people will be willing to do good, for themselves, their neighbours, and ultimately, for their country.

Today, on the day of hearts (I am writing this on Valentine’s Day), I saw people do and say things from the heart. If change truly comes from within, then the needed change is here.

If finally, Nigerian hearts have been triggered, to demonstrate the quality of spontaneous speech and gestures I witnessed today, then the core of this nation has been touched.

That portends well for Naija right? Let’s take the torch on from here. Do whatever good you can to touch the heart of another Nigerian, for good.

There were other fine moments that I also took good note of:

Osime, aptly dubbed ‘the Trojan Horse’, found time to chide cyberbullies for their unkind thoughts and words to teammate, Alex Iwobi.

The coach humbly owned that in his sixty years of life, he had never felt as honoured as he did at that moment. That gave me goose bumps.

Coincidentally, I got my first valentine gift from my boyfriend of 36 years and husband of 32 years today so, it is a first for the coach and me.

I identify with his heartfelt expression of gratitude. Previous coaches were probably not treated that well, or they failed to express their gratitude so poignantly.

I really thank God for today. My husband, Godwin, The Super Eagles team and coach, President Bola Tinubu, VP Shettima et al, really made my day. God bless Nigeria.

By Jennifer Ihuoma Abraham

Jennifer Abraham holds a bachelors degree in English Language and Literature and a Post Graduate Diploma in Education. She has practiced journalism since after her national youth service assignment in 1989 as an independent TV producer/presenter and magazine editor; focusing on entrepreneurship, personal and community/natural resources development. She has attended broadcasting courses sponsored by the United States Information Service and Science Reporting Workshops with the African Technology and Policy Studies Network. She is also a teacher, a preacher of the gospel of Jesus Christ and has partnered with NGOs, Government Agencies and individuals to promote philanthropic causes.

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