In DepthColumnsNigeria, Arsenal: Cruel to optimists


Posted on Monday, 03 August 2015 15:27

Nigeria, Arsenal: Cruel to optimists

File photo©ReutersAfter 13 defeats, Arsène Wenger finally beat his man. The 1-0 defeat of José Mourinho's Chelsea marked a particularly welcome milestone in Arsenal's progress.

 The north London rivals have exerted a mental block on Arsenal's squad – now this is another box ticked, along with winning major silverware in back to back FA cups, and beating the Manchester clubs away from home.

Will Buhari actually manage to change the 'oil swap' contracts?

With it comes the bubble of optimism a new season brings. This is a familiar feeling for Arsenal fans, along with the crushing inevitability of a struggle around the Christmas run of games, and subsequent floundering towards fourth place.

After all, following the FA cup win in the 13/14, came the terrible start to the 14/15 season.

Nigeria is also serially cruel to the optimist. The reforming president Olusegun Obasanjo ceded to the sirens of the third term agenda; the reforming governor Umaru Musa Yar'Adua died of ill health too soon to make an impact; the first ever President from the Niger Delta made bold promises in power and agriculture but also pushed out a Bank Governor for the temerity of pointing out the grand scale looting under his watch.

But now, Arsenal have assembled the best team since the 'Invincibles'. Nigeria have defied expectations by holding a clean election, putting a northern, anti-corruption -focused President on seat. Like Obama before them, Buhari and Wenger will need to manage expectations carefully.

If the energy sector is the third rail of Nigerian politics – touch it and you die – Buhari's tough stance in tackling the NNPC has to be commended. Likewise, the frontal attack on Nigeria's permanent secretaries, those architects of mass state looting. And commanders from neighbouring countries have been impressed by an uptick in competence in Nigeria's military.

But, just as in the premier league, there are metrics for winning. A community shield, just like a successful glitzy trip to Washington, does not count for much.

The long gruelling season ahead is where everything is played.

Will Buhari actually manage to change the 'oil swap' contracts? Will the anti-corruption commission start taking real not political scalps?

Will Nigeria's refineries start working, will agricultural reforms be continued, will the import bill go down, will security and the economy in the north improve, will roads get repaired, will schools open, will hospitals improve, will small businesses get finance, will homes be affordable?

Will Arsenal win the league?

Nicholas Norbrook

Nicholas Norbrook

Nicholas Norbrook is Managing Editor of The Africa Report, helping to set up the magazine in 2005. He has been a producer for Radio France International, and has lived and worked in West Africa. In 2011 he won the Diageo Business Reporting award for Journalist of the Year.

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