In furtherance of our Accountability and Transparency program (#Nigeriawewant), we hosted the African Cups of Nation match at several viewing centres in Gombe. The event took place on the 30th of June 2019 as Nigeria played Madagascar. 1. Gadan Bomala Bypass viewing centre, 2. Tower Lodge Main Roundabout viewing centre, 3. Tunfure Resources viewing centres, 4. New State Lodge Sabon line viewing centre, 5. Gadan Malale Gidan Bawo Viewing centre.
The aim of this initiative was to use football viewing centers as civic education hubs to deliver civic education messages in rural and urban communities around Gombe state. The message relayed was on the importance for citizens to hold government accountable for the promises made during their campaign that facilitated their election into office. This match was a great way to sensitize the audience on the importance of electing a good leader then demanding accountability and transparency from these leaders.
Development of the match itself presented avenues to breed discussion amongst the viewers and in turn link the unfolding events of the game with the state of the country’s democracy. From the match it was evident that the Nigerian team was not performing up to the expectations of the people. Anger and frustration marred the atmosphere of the center leaving viewers disappointed with the coach and the players. Some viewers shouting out changes they wish the coach would make to improve the performance of the players.
Facilitators of the event used the opportunity to bring to the attention of the viewers the likeliness of the underperformance of the coach to that of a bad leader. They implored the viewers to use the same frustration they are feeling as they watch the match to judge the state of the country’s affairs and use the same critical thinking to appraise the performance of Nigeria’s leaders. Many were unimpressed with the state of the Nigerian political system and concurred that it was time they hold people in authority accountable and demand change.
One of the participants at the viewing center, during an interview, said that “if an elected leader is underperforming and has refused to listen to the cry of his people after various attempt from the people, the elected leader should be removed from office so someone else can take his place and do good work that will benefit the people.” Comments like this served as a reiteration of the type of message that was dispersed at the event during the intermissions of the game. All this was in an effort to not just impart the importance of holding elected leaders accountable but also for citizens to seek transparency between the government and its people.
This specific match between Nigeria and Madagascar was the perfect match to hold our event as it was the last ground game before the round of 16 games commences. It was expected to have a high attendance at viewing centres thereby guaranteeing increased participation in our activity. Just as anticipated we were whelmed with delighting numbers. In the Gadan Bomala Bypass viewing centre, a total of 714 participants were recorded. The Tower Lodge Main Roundabout viewing centre had 689 participants. The New State Lodge Sabon line viewing centre had 745 participants. The Gadan Malale Gidan Bawo viewing centre had 800 Participants. While the Tunfure Resources viewing centre was recorded with the highest number of a total of 809 participants. This professes a total of 3,757 people that participated in this statewide viewing centre event. The success rate of the event was massive.
The atmosphere of the centers were also very lively and contagious. “I am very very excited to be here today and to have learnt that I have the right to hold elected leaders accountable” Mr Abdul an attendee at the viewing center located at Tunfure proclaimed. Apart from the thrill of watching Nigeria play, the activities and games provided set the right environment to disseminate information and foster a sense of togetherness at the same time. Attendants were also excited to be in the race to win an original Nigerian jersey despite the unfortunate fact that Nigeria lost the match.