How Does The Russia - Ukraine Crisis Affect Nigeria and Her Footballers?



As we speak, there are no less than 6 Nigerian footballers and their families based in Ukraine. There are very many more citizens of the West African country based in the East European country for education, business, employment and love.


At the moment, the Western alliance of NATO and the EU are at loggerheads with Russia as the Putin led administration invaded the same Ukraine this week.


A key weapon in Western armoury is financial sanctions on Russian interests. This week, an English Labour Party minister even suggested stripping a Russian billionaire of his ownership of a London Premier League club.


The West makes no bones of their boasts of being a bastion of proprietary, good practice and financial transparency. Yet, the infrastructure of key aspects of their economic and financial institutions is built on questionable foreign finance foundations.


In a country claiming to have been communist – espousing equal distribution of economic resources across the population – it remains baffling how Russian Oligarchs amassed much wealth. Okay, many of them claim to have become billionaires after the fall of communism but the resources of amassing much wealth remain a matter of much speculations.


Nigerians living in the UK have to take out a loan mortgage for a whole 25 years to buy their own homes. Yet, the British financial system sees no wrong in Nigeria-based Nigerian coming to UK to buy a £500,000 property in leafy London (250 million naira). Western Universities are littered with foreign Nigerian students paying tuition fees of around 25,000 pounds or dollars per annum whereas millions of students back at home struggle to buy shoes to wear and barely afford 3 square meals in University.


Famed Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich grew up in the communist era in which the very underpinnings of that system forbade wealth accumulation. Yet the West welcomed him with open arms to buy one of their most prized sporting institutions while turning a blind eye to the rationale and circumstances behind his wealth accumulation.


Whilst in office in 2016, former United Kingdom Prime Minister David Cameron was overheard saying: “We’ve got some leaders of some fantastically corrupt countries coming to Britain… Nigeria and Afghanistan, possibly the two most corrupt countries in the world.”


Yet, a lot of that alleged corruption money from Nigeria finds its way to UK banks, Universities, hospitality sector, entertainment sector and housing markets, to mention but a few.


During the good times, the authorities turn a blind eye. Should the Buhari-led administration now militarily annexe parts of Chad and Niger Republic (which we have the military might to do), that is when we will start hearing laughable rhetorics.


“UK to ban Nigeria Students” “UK to freeze the assets of Nigerian citizens” “US to strip Nigerian citizens of their ownership of Shares in Western companies” “EU to stop allowing Nigerians to own property in the Territory” “UK to stop Nigerians from selling on Ebay” "Nigeria to be banned on Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat".


Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah! Blah! These are the sort of headlines that would be plastered on major newspapers across the globe in such an eventuality.


It has to be said that a good number of my fellow Nigerians at home and abroad work bloody hard for their money and should not be tarred with corruption brush that Mr Cameron brought out of his cupboard (a cupboard full of Western skeletons).


But, when Western countries allow unfettered flow of finance from questionable sources to their countries in good times (in which their economies flourished from), to now start making a big deal of this in difficult times smacks of double standards.


Newcastle and Manchester City are owned by foreign concerns – all is well now. Should something unpleasantly monumental happen in the countries owning these clubs, then we will wake up to the drum of another tune.


The war in Ukraine is rather unfortunate.

It is difficult to gauge exactly what Putin’s calculations are. But, if Canada and Mexico should wake up one morning and announce joining Russia in a “Military and Defence Alliance”, America and UK will become alarmed.


In the 1960’s when neighbouring Cuba were going to be arming themselves with Russian weapons, USA developed fever leading to the much celebrated Cuban missile crisis as World War 3 loomed and was subsequently averted as the world held its collective breath.


So, one can see why Putin would be alarmed by having more and more of Russia’s neighbours joining Western institutions like NATO and the European Union (EU).


But is war the answer?


In theory, the Russian strongman intends to invade Ukraine, depose its pro-western leaders and install a puppet Pro-Russian political establishment who will NEVER seek to align itself to the west.


A ballsy idea, but one that can only been dreamt of by the obdurate Mr Putin.


I mentioned double standards above. With the west having a history of invading the likes of Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan – for reasons they justified to themselves despite oppositions from the likes of China and Russia at the time – do they now have the moral high ground to criticise Putin's Russia?


This modern day Tsar has already called their sanctions bluff and gone ahead to do the unthinkable. So, what else can EU, NATO and the United Nations do?


Whatever it is, they have to do it fast as I cry for the innocent men, children and women (and numerous Ukraine based Nigerian footballers and their families) caught up in this inanity.


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