Niccolo Machiavelli said in his treatise, The Prince that, “The end justifies the means”. And that statement appropriately describes this moment in which the Nigeria Football Federation [NFF] and its president, Amaju Pinnick, find themselves in pursuit of 19-year-old Ademola Lookman.
Three months ago, Lookman was not a candidate for Nigeria’s senior national football team – the Super Eagles. But a £7.5million transfer from Charlton Athletic to English Premier League side, Everton, suddenly thrust him into the middle of switching allegiance.
So the question to ask is whether it is morally right for the NFF to be chasing this youngster to play for Nigeria when he was developed by England?
Nigeria is a country of over 180 million while England is about 55 million. So with human capital that is over thrice of England, why has Nigeria resorted to poaching?
Before you answer that question, I know some people will be asking what the problem is since we have “foreigners” like Victor Moses, Alex Iwobi, William Troost –Ekong, Carl Ikeme and Leon Balogun in the present team with no dust raised?
The adjunct question would then be – which of the aforementioned players had a realistic chance of playing for their birth-place nations? Maybe Moses, who technically is all Nigerian, because he was born and raised here for sometime before he became moving to England.
The furore is coming at this moment because the English FA look at Lookman as an investment that Nigeria [having not done any work in cultivating] want to reap where they did not sow.
Bode Oguntuyi, a respected football commentator in Nigeria, writing on his blog last December, believes the ongoing recruitment would not augur well for the development of the local leagues.
“While it is within the rights of the Nigeria Football Federation to invite footballers who are born to Nigerian parents, it will likely accelerate the death of the Nigeria league.
“The move is akin to building a pyramid upside down with the tip bottom and base up: the structure will eventually totter and keel.
“The national team will look shiny and glittery from afar, but it would not be built on any solid foundation. They will likely win…but only for a while,” he added.
But Pinnick believes it is a way of strengthening the national team even though the Super Eagles is not the foundation of football in the country.
“You see, some of them might have represented England at junior level, but they are willing to represent Nigeria at senior level, and that is what we are looking at,” Pinnick said in 2015.
“We are looking at strengthening our teams at all levels and these players are willing, once we can convince them that there is a new set-up in Nigeria football.”
This NFF board thus seems to be on the lookout for diamonds that have already been unearthed instead of digging for raw diamonds – which abound in the local leagues!
Where this venture will get us to nobody knows but what is sure is that as long as this drive persists, nothing of great importance will come forth from the local leagues because the quota would have been filled with our “Oyibos” back from the Diaspora.