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AFCON 2023: Nasarawa Governor Sule challenges NOA on patriotism

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By our reporter

Drawing from his experience at the just concluded AFCON 2023 in Ivory Coast, Governor Abdullahi Sule of Nasarawa State has challenged the National Orientation Agency (NOA) to go back to the drawing board with a view to reawakening love for Nigeria among Nigerians.

Governor Sule laid the challenge when hosting the NOA Director General, Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu who led the state director NOA and her team on courtesy visit at the Government House on Tuesday.

The Governor who was part of the entourage that accompanied the Vice President, Senator Kashim Shettima to watch the final match between Nigeria and the host country, marveled at the level of patriotism demonstrated by the citizens of Ivory Coast by turning up in their numbers to support their team.

He challenged the NOA to start a process that would endear Nigeria in the hearts of Nigerians and for Nigerians to love their country just like the Ivoriens love their country.

“The number of people we saw that day was more than the actual population of Abidjan. There were four times the people you saw in the stadium outside the stadium. Every community, every village that we passed, and all the people in the village, neighborhood, and community trooped to the roadside wearing orange.

“Everybody, including a child of two years, five years, the one they were carrying, everybody was wearing the T-shirt of their country. They were so excited about their country. I was coming out, everybody that I saw was wearing orange. I was the only one wearing a Nigerian peak cap.

“At the stadium, everyone was wearing orange. The entire stadium was covered in orange colour. The busses we saw on the road were picking people free of charge. All the people at the stadium, it’s not that they paid. Busses were following these people to their villages and picking them up, and bringing them to the stadium free of charge. Just for the people to be able to make the noise they made at the stadium and to motivate their own team.

“The moment they scored their goal, you needed to see that stadium. The drumming by our supporters club was drowned by the din from the people. The crowd was too much. The love they have for their country, this is the love I would like to see Nigerians have for Nigeria. I just fell in love with them because they love their country,” he recounted.

He said even though the super eagle lost the final match, the Nigerian team gave their best.

“Everybody supported Ivory Coast, including delegation from other countries. Even the referee you could see from the way he was handling the game. They did that for their country. It’s not because they are richer than Nigeria or anything. It’s just because they love their country,” he stated.

The Governor tasked the NOA to understudy how countries like Ivory Coast were able to make their people love their country.

“I don’t know any city in Nigeria where we would have a football match that I would see people like that. We can show support for our team at the stadium or on the streets, but for people to leave their work with their children and leave the villages and come by the roadside, praising their team. I think we need to go to some of these places and learn what is making them love their country like this. Let us learn from there so that we can love Nigeria like that,” he added.

Governor Sule expressed willingness to support the NOA to achieve its mandate, especially the National Value Charter for national re-orientation which President Ahmed Bola Tinubu would launch soon.

Earlier, in his opening remarks, Director General of the National Orientation Agency ( NOA) Mallam Lanre Issa-Onilu, said there is every need for the Nigerians to be mobilised to be united for stability, peace and progress of the country.

The NOA DG said that explained why the Tinubu administration right from the start created a distinct ministry for culture and tourism, separate from that of information and national orientation.

“The agreement is that orientation itself is a journey, it’s not a destination. When you give somebody an orientation, you are leading him from somewhere to somewhere.

“The problem with this country is not that there have not been past efforts. Good people, good Nation, Change begins with me-We have made efforts to unite this country and ensure that we have good citizens.

“What was missing, in the President’s opinion, was the fact that orientation itself was considered a destination. Because of that, the real destination was not defined. Where do we want to lead our people to? That is what we are trying to do differently,” he stated.

He announced plans by the NOA to introduce a process that would give Nigerians the desired identity tagged the ‘National Value Charter’ which President Tinubu would personally launch.

“This is a contract between the country and the citizens. Unlike in the past, efforts desiring the citizens to make sacrifice, it’s not only the citizens that constitute the country, the leaders also,” he said.

According to him, the charter is a written instrument that guarantees rights or privileges from Nigeria to Nigerians tagged, ‘Seven for Seven (7 for 7) Nigeria responsibilities to citizens and seven citizens responsibilities to Nigeria’.

Issa-Onilu used the opportunity of the visit to congratulate Governor Sule over his recent victory at the supreme court.

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