|At Onikan Stadium on Sunday. That's me in red and some of my fans|
So it all started about a month ago when I got a call from a staff of the League Management Company, LMC telling me that I will be on the team to Spain for the La Liga tour.
Just in case you do not know, the La Liga tour is a series of games that will be played by the Nigeria League selected side against Spanish top division sides like Valencia, Malaga and Athletico Madrid.
“Ok,” I replied. “Thanks for the information. So what next,” I asked.
I was supposed to submit, via email, the data page of my international passport by the next day, but that was where it started for me.
My passport expired not long after I returned from Brazil where I went to watch the World Cup in 2014. It actually expired one year later.
I always wanted to renew it, but every time I was advised to by my friends, especially one who worked at the passport office in immigration, that loafer called Procrastination grabs me by the scruff of my neck and tells me I should wait up since I did not have any trip in the horizon.
I thought I’d renew my passport eventually before I’ll make my next trip but something on the inside told me a situation like this would occur.
One week passport service
I called my friend at the Passport office, who naturally said I could get a renewal done in a day. I was there on Friday and they said it would be ready on Monday. Not bad so I kick started the process, paid fully and was waiting to be called on Monday for my photo capture.
Suddenly the lady said I could do the capture immediately which I obliged though I was shocked about it.
However, on Monday, my passport was not ready; neither was it ready on Tuesday. So on Wednesday I rushed down to find out what was wrong and heard that my photo capture was done somewhat illegally.
The lady jumped the normal protocol to have it done for me and the boss found out… to cut a long story short, I suffered for the sins of an immigration staff who was probably trying so hard to impress me and probably get a tip for a job well done.
I had to go to the office on Thursday, a complete six days after I started the process to tell the man not to involve me in whatever internal issues they have in their office.
“If you staff does something wrong, punish that staff and not a Nigerian citizen who paid to get his international passport renewed.”
I got my passport a day later and the rest as they say in Nigeria is history.
Lagos, first, before Spain
I called up two of my childhood friends, Tonye Briggs and Charles Campbell to tell them I would be in Lagos for a day. Maybe we could hook up.
But I got a call from Chief Nduka Irabor. His name needs no introduction. He wanted to know when I would be in Lagos and if I would be watching the league game between Ikorodu United and Shooting Stars.
I didn’t want to see that game but when chief made an offer of a plate of pounded yam and good soup to be digested with some white wine at his house, I knew my only mission in life was to watch Ikorodu United v Shooting Stars
I hit Lagos on Sunday, August 7, 2016 as our departure to Madrid would be the next day.
I had gotten used to bunking at Dudu Orumen’s Sports Shaq so I went straight there, paid for my room and was trying to catch some shut eye when I remembered Chief Irabor’s call.
I actually wanted to stay bac and watch the Community Shield game between Manchester United and Leicester City, but that offer haunted me until I got dressed and was about to leave for the stadium.
The Assistant Media Officer of the Nigeria Football Federation, Ayo Ibidapo called that he was in Lagos and I suggested he stayed at Sports Shaq too and since he planned to go to the stadium, I waited up for him.
Tonye Briggs came around and joined us to the stadium.
In the 90s, when Tonye still lived in Port Harcourt we used to go to the Sharks Stadium together to watch league games and he reminded me.
The game between Ikorodu United and Shooting Stars was very interesting, end to end stuff until Shooting, the away side equalized towards the end of the game and all hell was let loose.
Needless to say, the game did not end like normal league games end.
Next was chief’s house and as usual with him, talked about the Nigerian league which was all he loved talking about. Of course we talked a bit of foreign leagues but most of all we brainstormed on how to make our league better. I was there with Tola Badakele of Supersport and Fred Edoreh.
At 10:30 pm we begged to leave and Tola dropped me off at my hotel where I began to prepare for Nigeria’s 2nd Olympic Games football match against Sweden.
That game would end at 1am; I was supposed to leave for the airport at 3pm. How was I ever going to achieve that?
Time would tell…