Why I Think Aliko Dangote Should Buy A Nigerian Premier League Club

Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote said earlier this month, in an interview with Bloomberg, that he is still interested in buying English Premier League (EPL) club, Arsenal despite having his first offer rebuffed back in 2010.

Being an ardent follower of one of the best leagues in the world, it is easy to understand why Dangote’s dream of owning the North London club seems to be the right business decision.

However, one wonders why he has not thought of purchasing a Nigerian Premier League (NPL) club instead.

Nigerian football is in dire need of a shot in the arm and Dangote may be the man to take our football to the acme of African, if not World, football.

The progress of our league is still marred by the interference of State Governments. Most Nigerian Premier League clubs are still owned by the Governments in the states where they are situated, hence the league lacks a proper business structure.

Captail Oil owner and business man, Ifeanyi Ubah recently acquired Gabros FC for over a billion naira and said “We seem not to know what we have in this country in terms of football standard. I feel ashamed whenever I see Nigerian young players go to lesser football-playing countries to play professional soccer. I don’t see why our players should run to places like South Africa, Malta, India, Bangladesh and even Israel to play professional football, when in the actual sense, with proper organization and planning, the Nigerian league is better. My dream is to make Nigeria the Mecca of club football in the world.”

The English Premier League is lauded today as the best league in the world because England allowed foreign investors to come in and buy the clubs, attract foreign players to the league and expand their fan base.

Egyptian Mohamed Al Fayed was the first foreign owner in English football, with Fulham. He purchased the club for £6.25m back in 1997 when they were still in the fourth tier of English football.

But it was the success of Russian billionaire, Roman Abramovic at Chelsea that heralded the influx of foreign investors into English football.

Abramovic bought Chelsea, a fairly midtable team at the time, for £150m from Ken Bates back in 2003 and has since turned them into EPL/FA cup/Champions League winners.

Since then, Stanley Kroenke, Alisher Usmanov (both Arsenal), Randy Lerner (Aston Villa), Assem Allam (Hull City), Ellis Short (Sunderland), The Glazer Family (Manchester United), Katharian Liebherr (Southampton), Tony Fernandes (QPR), John Henry (Liverpool), Sheikh Mansour (Manchester City) and  Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha (Leicester City) have all acquired major stakes in English premier league clubs.

Investment of the Dangotes and Ubahs in Nigerian football may also propel our league to such great heights and attract the likes of Abramovic to invest in the league.

One cannot overemphasize how Nigeria, as a nation, will benefit from having a well-structured and competitive football league.

The English Premier League generates €2.2 billion per year in domestic and international television rights.

Having a well-structured league will help curb the chronic youth unemployment we have in the country. Apart from being a footballer or coach, many youths will get the chance to work for the league clubs in different capacities such as advertising, managerial, human resource, sports science etc.

The prospective club owners can record profits from sale of club merchandise and match tickets, if sold at available prices, to ensure the stadium is filled and make the match enjoyable for everyone.

I had the opportunity to watch a League One (English third tier) match between Bristol City and Scunthorpe United at Ashton Gate stadium in 2014. I was in awe of the atmosphere in the stadium; it was nothing like what I experience back here in Nigeria. The fans were in boyish mood and sang on top of their voices.

The club also slashed the match ticket prices for students and persons with disabilities hence allowing everyone to get a glimpse of their local stars.

The Egyptian, South African, Moroccan, Tunisian, Mexican and Japanese leagues are leagues we can use as stereotypes. Let’s use the Egyptian league for example, it is so organized and exciting that their top players leave Europe and return home. For instance, Amir Zaki was an instant hit at Wigan Athletic when he was on loan at the club (2008/2009 English premier league season) and had the opportunity to make the deal permanent but he declined the offer and opted to return back to Egypt where he’s been representing Zamalek.

The Egyptian league is so exciting to watch because of their style of play and the atmosphere in the stadia. The fans come out in mass, wearing the colours of their favourite teams and singing loudly.

Nigerian football needs this boost!

Runs/Ashawo Biz: Is It Worth It?

Ashawo and Runs girl business are the order of the day in Nigeria. 1 in 10 young ladies is either an ashawo or a runs girl. The difference between Ashawo and Runs girl isn’t much if there’s any difference sef.

A prostitute (Ashawo) is a girl who offers sexual intercourse indiscriminately especially for money while a Runs Girl is any girl who is paid for the sexual activities she renders. I know both definitions mean the same thing because to me, I don’t think there’s any difference.

Yes! People will point out to the fact that prostitutes stand on the roadside and hawk their bodies to interested customers and allow every Tom, Dick and Harry to have a taste of their diced pineapples once they reach an ultimatum – the price of course while the runs girls are connected with the well-to-do, buoyant and rich single and married men who are sex starved and supply them with mind-blowing sex but at the end of the day, all of them are sex hawkers. Urban Dictionary defined a prostitute as one who will perform sexual acts if payment can be arranged. Let’s just say, the Ashawos are ‘petty’ while the Runs Girls are the ‘Dangotes’ of the business.

I can’t really wrap my head round why some girls I’ve met are into ashawo and runs girl business. I mean these girls are from decent and comfortable homes, their parents provide them with almost everything they need.

Most people always point out to lack of money or death of a parent(s) as the reason why they venture into this line of business, I can’t judge them because I’ve never been in their shoes.

My tirade is against those from average homes, who are far from contented with what they have. They are so desperate for material things and are ready to do anything to make sure they smile to the bank daily, weekly or monthly.

Most of these ‘tramps’ also have boyfriends and expect fidelity from their previous partners. I was out one night on the streets of Ikeja, Lagos where a lot of young fine ladies strut their stuff. Most of them had Blackberry phones, snapping and updating their status and I thought to my self, some guys are out there boasting to their friends how awesome their girlfriends are, without knowing they are hoes.

Someone told me that people move into the business because the pressure among peers to ‘belong’ is high. I guess he is right, when some girls see their peers driving cars and owning expensive gadgets, they become intimidated and try to usurp their peers.

But for what it is worth, all these things are vanity!

Nobody Has It Easy

Sitting on a sofa in my living room and listening to John Legend’s song Everybody Knows, a line in the song hit me. He sang “…nobody has it easy, I still can’t believe, you found somebody new but I wish you the best, I guess…”

In deed, nobody has it easy. The day I watched a documentary on Michael Jackson and how he was declined a role in a movie, I couldn’t believe it. This is somebody the whole world knows, infact the only thing more popular than the man nicknamed Wacko Jacko is Coca-Cola yet he was rejected by a director who wasn’t even as popular as Steven Seagal; this left him distraught and depressed.

Celebrities do suffer heart breaks, loneliness, lack of privacy etc yet we model our lives after theirs believing they have it all easy. Well, they don’t!

A chat with a colleague yesterday left me non-plussed and infuriated; the dude dismissed the importance of family, citing he doesn’t care about children/heir and he would “kill” to be as affluent as Aliko Dangote or Mike Adenuga.

The truth is that we always believe what we don’t have is better than what we have. American rapper Marshall Mathers aka EMINEM said in his song BEAUTIFUL, “…walk a thousand miles in my shoes just to see what its like to me, I’ll be you – lets trade shoes, just to see what it’d be like. To feel your pain, you feel mine. Go inside each other’s minds, just to see what we’d find, look at shit through each other’s eyes…”

It would be nice if people didn’t look over the fence and think someone else has it easier than him or her…you never know what just goes on in other people’s lives. Just enjoy your life to the best of your ability.

Nobody has it easy, everybody has a problem. Everybody is fighting his or her own war. You don’t know what they are going through. Nobody is perfect, nobody deserves to be.

Happy new week, wish you all a productive week.