Adokiye Amiesimaka: The Man Who Told the Truth

by Sabella Ogbobode Abidde

The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) has been caught with its pants down. The Eaglets Skipper, Mr. Fortune Chukwudi, is said to be at least 25 years old, and not 17, as the NFF and the national team claims. For a country trying to rebrand, trying to clean up its image, this has to be a terrible blow to the face and chin. In one fell swoop, Nigeria’s image sinks deeper into the cesspool.

There is a contradiction, an ironic twist, to the over-age saga. Most Nigerians, privately and publicly, are quick to point to their religiosity. Usually the first to point to their born-again status, or to having a direct phone line to God, they usually cannot wait to shoot themselves on the foot. They cannot wait to expose their hypocritical nature. And as usual, they will not take the blame for their personal and official irresponsibility. They have God to blame or to praise for everything under the sun – even if God had no hand in it.

From all indications, the Nigerian Football Federation is made up of Muslims and Christians. Considering the nature of the country, vis-à-vis religion, one can safely assume these are men and women who attends Church and Mosques on a regular basis, and who wears their religions on their sleeves. As is the practice in some government ministries and government agencies, one can safely assume they hold prayer vigil at the NFF, too.

The Qur’an, we are told, says, “Truly, Allah does not guide one who transgresses and lies” (Surah 40:28). In the Hadith, Mohammed was quoted as saying: “Be honest because honesty leads to goodness, and goodness leads to Paradise. Beware of falsehood because it leads to immorality, and immorality leads to Hell.” Two other passages in the Qur’an are also instructive: “Cover not Truth with falsehood, nor conceal the Truth when ye know (what it is)” (2:42); and “Take not your oaths, to practice deception between yourselves” (16:94). One wonders if the Muslims, within the NFF, who engaged in this deception and falsehood, read or are familiar with these passages.

Luke 16:10 tells us that “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” We trusted the NFF to be honest with us and with the international community, but see what they’ve done. Lied! Heb. 13:18 wants us to “conduct ourselves honorably in all things;” We also know, as Prov. 12:22 tell us: “Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord.” And then this: Rev. 21:27 – “no one who practices abomination and lying shall ever come into heaven.” The Christians at the NFF, Coach John Obuh and member of his team must have read these passages, too. God’s injections must not be taken lightly.

We know Coach Obuh to be a Christian. We know because the Vanguard newspaper, in Obuh Takes Eaglets to Church for Thanksgiving (November 1, 2009), reported that, “after guiding the Golden Eaglets to a hard-fought 2-1 win over Argentina, Coach John Obuh took time to attend a special thanksgiving service to God at an Abuja church.” The Coach was reported as saying: “Without God, there is nothing that one can achieve. How far and how well we have fared can be attributed to the divine handiwork of God…today is my day to give thanks to God and I know that I would have more reasons to give thanks to God in the future.” I hope he confessed to God for this grand deception.

Now that the Nigerian Football Federation and the Golden Eaglets have been caught with their pants down (for lying and for rubbishing Nigeria’s image), they have decided to shift the blame, refuse to take responsibility, but instead blamed the truth-teller. The move is in full gears to attack, to condemn and heap vituperations on the man who dare tell the truth: Adokiye Amiesimaka. As a result of his moral and enviable act, he has now become the object of hate, ridicule, and slander by the Nigerian Football Federation.

At a time when the nation is expending a lot of resources in rebranding our country, men and women like Mr. Adokiye Amiesimaka should be commended, honored and emulated. He has NOT committed a crime — be it legal or ethical. The current attacks against his person and reputation are therefore unwarranted. All he has done is appeal to our conscience, to our moral base. All he has done is help us believe in ourselves; that we need not cheat in other to win sporting championships. He is telling us that, as a nation striving to be great within the international system, integrity matters.

If we allow duplicity within the sporting arena, what hope do we have in the economic, cultural and political arena? If the establishment turns blind eyes to the transgression of our young minds, what then do we expect of such men and women when they grow up and are in position of authority? This is the time to rebrand and reorient our youths. If we lose the FIFA championship, that’s fine. If we win, that’s also fine.

Win or lose we must be confident in our ability, we must be proud that we played the game according to laid-down principles. Why celebrate a winning-performance that’s based on duplicity? This, in essence, was what Mr. Amiesimaka was/is getting at. He deserves our collective praise, not condemnation.

But no, for speaking the truth, he has now become the target for crucifixion. Is this the type of nation we have become? A nation of liars? Are we saying it is now acceptable to lie and lie and lie until the last man lies? And that it is okay to lie and to deceive not only ourselves, but the international community. When Coach Obuh went to Church to speak to God, to give thanks, he also lied to God. Three or more of those players also lied to themselves and to their country. They lied lied to FIFA and to all those young boys and girls who look up to them for inspiration and as inspirations.

For those who lied, why didn’t their parents, siblings, nieces and nephews say something, anything? Didn’t their pastors and Imams and teachers know? Any one of them could have told the truth; but none did. But instead, all partook in mass deception. Instead of accepting the blame, they now want to shift culpability on a man who decided to tell the truth?

According to newspaper accounts, Adokiye Amiesimaka asserts that “In the 2002/2003 season, I was chairman of Sharks Football Club of Port Harcourt. I decided to have a feeder team of fresh school leavers not older than 20 years. One of my key players then is the current captain of our so-called Under 17 Golden Eaglets. By his own admission at that time, that is seven years ago, he was 18 years old…If we are not utterly irresponsible, how can he be eligible for this tournament when he is not less than 25 years old now?”

Coach John Obuh and his technical team could not have perpetrated and perpetuated this scam without the active connivance of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the Sports Ministry. In reaction to the scandal, the Acting General Secretary of NFF, Mr. Musa Amadu said: “We are not claiming to be perfect, as that is a virtue that belongs to only the Almighty God. But Nigerians are aware of the efforts we made to ensure that we put forward a genuine team.” No one demanded perfection, only honesty — which is one of God’s injunctions.

Other than the bold-faced lies and their habitual lying, the NFF is now accusing Mr. Amiesimaka of evil designs, claiming that a man who decided to tell the truth – a moral and ethical action members of the NFF seem totally incapable of — they wants to destroy the Golden Eaglets and Nigeria’s reputation. Which is more egregious to a nation’s reputation: lies or the truth?

Musa Amadu went on to say, “We

are only stunned that there are Nigerians who so passionately hate their own country, simply because they are not at the helm…We should learn to celebrate excellence some of the time, not trying to bring down other people all the time. Has Amiesimaka been obsessed with so much hatred for our successful players because he never played in the World Cup? It is possible.” What nonsense! Who hates his country more: the truth-teller or peddlers of falsehood?

Along with Musa Amadu, others, including Taiwo Ogunjobi and their posse of imposters, are now accusing Mr. Adokiye Amiesimaka of the “destroy-them- by-all-means” syndrome, instead of being grateful to him for being truthful and upright. How could a man who spent the better years of his life in the service of Nigerian Sports and judiciary be so accused of “discrediting Nigerian football” as Ogunjobi has alleged. Now, who is a credit to Nigeria? Document forgers or the harbinger of truth?

In recent years, many Nigerian, privately and publicly, has been acting as though they are more catholic than the Pope, more saint than Saint Michael, more righteous than the righteous ones in all the Abrahamic religions. These are people, including Musa Amadu and Taiwo Ogunjobi, who may have knowingly engaged in fraud. Yet, they have the temerity to accost a truth-teller, a man who has for several decades, been a credit to the country.

The action of the Nigerian Football Federation, directly and indirectly, encouraged older boys to falsify their age; their incompetence made it possible for deception to take place; their inaction made cheating FIFA possible. Collectively, the actions and inaction of the personnel in and within the Nigeria Football Federation has made nonsense of Nigeria’s rebranding efforts. We speak of rebranding, of a new image; yet, we made it possible for the global community to deride Nigeria. We owe Adokiye Amiesimaka a world of gratitude.

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Eka November 10, 2009 - 7:54 pm

I’m really not surprised a lot of those players have falsified their age. I caught a glimpse of the match last week, and it was obvious most of them hardly looked 17 much less under 17. Those who are in support of the lie are part of the reason why Nigeria remains where it is today.

Sabella Abidde November 9, 2009 - 2:01 pm

Mr. Olupohunda,

Allow me to make one supposition and see if you and I would arrive at same conclusion: say you knew a promising footballer in 2000, when he was a15 year old chap. In 2009, when he obviously should be 24, he secured a slot in the Eaglet team posing as a 16 year old. But somehow he was cleared by the MRI. You and I know — well, I don’t know if you know, but I know — that the MRI technology is not 100% accurate in its reading. Question: Would you still allow the chap to claim “under 17” and play for the team? I can understand why some people may think it is ok; but I do not suffer from such moral dilemma. What is wrong is wrong. One of the problems we face, as a nation, is the SONDI syndrome: “Some Other Nation Did It.” We also see this in our personal dealings: “I am not the only or first person to do it or to chop…so if I do it or if I chop, nothing bad.” If you — Mr. Bayo Olupohunda, a noted voice in public intellectualism — see nothing wrong in the “Eaglet 17 age scandal,” then, I must continue to shed tears for our nation. There are no moral ambiguities here. You may argue motives and timing and all that, but really, for me, there is no moral predicament. A wrong was committed. A national transgression took place. And you, Mr. Olupohunda should not excuse or celebrate such infraction. It ought to be beneath you.

Sabella Abidde

yabo November 7, 2009 - 2:10 pm

I read ur article and I would like to leave a rather long comment. I have also argued this position elsewhere about this overage issue and Amesiamaka’s allegation. I am not sure if u have been following the preparation of the Golden Eaglets in their build up to the Under 17 World Cup. If u have, then you should have exercised some caution in swallowing hook line and sinker allegations about age falsification now making the round. And I think as a commentator/writer you must be careful not to jump into the bandwagon of criticism without considering the circumstances and the context in which this allegation is made. We must not be seen to just always want to take sides in argument especially when it has to do with a national issue of this magnitude. Did u know that the MRI scan was administered on the previous team and almost all of them were dropped because they were found to be over age?Did u know that a new team consisting of the present squad was assembled and the MRI scan cleared the players to be Under 17 before the start of the competition? Will it now be justified and lawful to now raise the issue of over age again when the MRI scan was officially administered on the players and they were all cleared to be below 17? We have to be careful here. Has FIFA come out to say MRI result may not be absolute or final in determining age suitability for the competition? What is the basis for this allegation? What empirical evidence is Amesiamaka’s claim based on when an MRI scan has cleared the boys? My take as a writer is if its not worth writing about then don’t. There is an element of politics going between the NFF and Amesiamaka. Please Mr Abide. I like ur writings but we must avoid to hurriedly take side in contentious issues like this especially when u do not have the facts. This piece is a rehash of claims and counter claims. No facts. I am against age cheats but unless FIFA officially announce that the MRI scan cannot officially determine age for the competition then Amesiamaka’s allegation is baseless and this platform should not be used to endorse a wild claim…Peace


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