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Richard Agu: Imama Amapakabo’s Feat with Rangers FC Should Remind Nigerians About the Benefits of Merit



Imama AmapakaboI first heard the name ‘Imama Amapakabo’ on Talking Sport; a sport programme on Dream Fm. As lovers of local sports, Osondu Mgwude, Jude Thomas, Eke George, Ugumsinachi, Chisom and Over-doze were very passionate about Rangers FC of Enugu State and intensely discussed issues pertaining to the Flying Antelopes as if their lives depended on it.

On one of their numerous broadcasts, I was very excited about the news that Imama Amapakabo, the Rangers FC coach decided to have an open camp before the beginning of the 2015/2016 season to recruit the best, skillful and most talented players in Nigeria.

The open camp meant ‘come and exhibit’ the stuff you are made of. At the end of the exercise, the merit principle came into play. Some players were picked to prosecute the long season.

Just a couple of days ago, that little merit principle paid off. The Flying Antelopes were crowned the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) champions after 32 years of waiting.

If you ask me, I will tell you that the incredibly feat of Rangers FC did not just happen by chance. It boiled down to what the coach did. What is that? You may ask… It’s simply doing things differently irrespective of the dictates of the status quo as well as sheer hard work.

As I watched the week 36 game between Enugu Rangers and El-Kanemi Warriors which ended 4-0 in favour of the Flying Antelopes, I was so happy because ‘recruitment of players by merit’ made the difference.  Hence, Imama Amapakabo’s incredible feat in Enugu State should refresh Nigeria’s mind about so many ills going on in our great 56 years old Nation.

First, can a significant percentage of Nigeria’s electorates sincerely and confidently claim that their voting behaviours and patterns are based on their conscience and meticulous consideration of the competency of political office aspirants? Or have the concepts of stomach infrastructure and kickbacks clouded their sense of reasoning, thereby making them to take irrational decisions?

There is no way one can sow cocoyam and harvest yam. As long as incidences of electoral malpractices and obnoxious voting behaviours continue to overshadow elections in Nigeria, expect no change from the status quo.

Secondly, has the principle of federal character enhanced the socio-economic and political development of Nigeria? Or is it a cog in the wheels of Nigeria’s progress?

There are ample researches pointing to the devastating effects of the principle of federal character on Nigeria development.  I am not against the principle of federal character, because of the heterogeneous nature of the Nigerian population. However, is the principle of federal character conducted on the basis of merit or political affiliations? It is same story from the days of yore; putting square pegs in round holes.

Next, where is the place of merit in our educational system? Or has the quota system hit the last nail on the coffin of our educational system?

How often have the best brains denied admission or scholarship to any level of education because of quota system? Why are the first class graduates roaming the streets of Nigeria, while their third class counterparts are occupying their positions in many tertiary institutions in Nigeria?

Why are bright students given poor grades while the unserious ones are buying the best grades in our school system? Why are the Vice chancellors recruiting their friends, relatives and persons recommended by their political fathers as lecturers?

What we sow is what we reap. It is very simple: garbage in and garbage out. No nation can rise above the standard of her education.

Finally, where is the place of merit in the political sphere, public and private sector organizations? Who prepared the 2016 budget? Who padded the budget? How is capital projects awarded? Are they carried out with substandard products? Why have the major highways in the South East suddenly became deathtraps? Who is in-charge of recruitment? Are prospective candidates recruited on merit?

It’s a shame that we are in the part of the world where the bosses are already aware of those who will occupy the vacant positions advertised on national dailies before the selection process . In the political arena, quoting Viktor Eke Kalu in his book “The Nigerian Condition”:

It has become a national hallmark since the eighties that when privileged individuals are gathered for merriment and feasting, they assume that the whole nation is gathered with them; claiming representation for their tribes, they eat on behalf of the wretched inhabitants of their ethnic homeland.

I will never forget what my dearest President, Muhammadu Buhari said;

‘We must change our lawless habits, our attitude to public office and public trust.  We must change our unruly behaviour in schools, hospitals, markets places, motor parks, on the roads, in homes and offices. To bring about change ourselves by being law-abiding citizens’

One of the few persons in Nigeria who took this advice is Imama Amapakabo. His refusal to chart the course of his predecessors by selecting his players based on merit is worth celebrating.

The irony of this is: the Rangers FC of Enugu State has suffered for 32 years because of their insistence on the existing status quo. Many electorates, public and private sector organizations have suffered more than Rangers FC. Nigeria as a nation has suffered more.

We need to do things on merit. That’s the way forward; that’s the only way we will make Nigeria a better place for all to enjoy and be proud of.

Congratulations to Rangers FC of Enugu State!

Congratulations to Imama Amapakabo!!

Congratulations to those few Nigerians who have upheld “merit”!

Photo Credit:

Richard Agu is a speaker and freelance writer passionate about entrepreneurship and Health. He co-owns two blogs that specializes on dishing out quality startup ideas and skin care tips. Get in touch with him for ghost writing, website content creation and other professional writing services.


  1. #MadeInNaija

    October 6, 2016 at 9:36 am

    Congrats to Team Rangers and God bless you all for making Coal City proud. Many more success shall come your way. BTW a nation is as strong as the weakest link,The objective of Unity Schools is to have different tribes sit & learn in same classroom for purpose of unity, hence the quota-system based admission. Merit is important for protection of standards but it is good to protect the disadvantaged. Why do we have Ministry of Niger-Delta? Why do we have NDDC? etc. There is a great need to develop the infrastructure in those places because of the obvious challenges. Why don’t we have Ministry of South West? or South East? I recall when Anambra State was battling low-male enrollment in schools.. It was tackled vigorously and now the numbers are minimal. FGN/World Bank/Jimmy Carter Foundation assisted Abakiliki to combat the guinea worm epidermic in the late 90’s. We need to learn how to be good neighbours whether you are in Nigeria or in another country of your dream/choice.

  2. Mahka

    October 6, 2016 at 11:19 am

    Imama Amapakbo…this man is an evidence of sheer hard work, dedication n resilience.
    As an Enugu girl n sports lover; ‘talking sports’ is one of the highlights of my morning on dream fm. Listening to Osondu n d crew passionately pleading for an upgrade in the way things are run in Rangers Fc. The underpaid coach n salaries lingering over months, am so happy they finally got to place a mark n reclaim their glory. Its been a really long time coming n I hope more goodies come their way n especially for Imana , cos he’s one of the underrated coaches out there.
    Gosh!!, I miss Osondu ,uncle Jude n d the gang at dream fm.

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