Nigeria/Cote d’Ivoire: Interview – Afcon 2023 Extra: ‘What Nigeria Can Learn From Cote d’Ivoire’s Leadership’

The Africa Cup of Nations has put Cote d’Ivoire on display as the best of African footballing talent dazzles the world with their skills.

The Africa Cup of Nations has put Cote d’Ivoire on display as the best of African footballing talent dazzles the world with their skills.

Apart from the football spectacle and grandeur linked with the AFCON tournament, Cote d’Ivoire seems to be a nation on an upward trajectory after a violent civil war.

Though far from being a perfect country without challenges, the Alassane Ouattara-led government has earned the confidence of the people.

In this exclusive interview with PREMIUM TIMES correspondent Tunde Eludini in Abidjan, Salman Tajudeen Adeyemi, a Nigerian businessman resident in Cote d’Ivoire, speaks on varying issues, including what Nigeria can learn from the AFCON 2023 hosts.

PT: Can you tell us how long you have been here in Cote d’Ivoire?

Salman: I was born here in 1968, but in 1984 I went to Nigeria. I went to Nigeria because, at that time, I couldn’t speak English as a Nigerian, and I told my father, how come? So I went to Nigeria in 1984, and I schooled in Nigeria until 1996.

PT: How would you describe Ivorians generally?

Salman: People in Cote d’Ivoire that you call Ivory Coast are good people. They welcome visitors very well.

PT: Were you around when Cote d’Ivoire hosted the Africa Cup of Nations in 1984? And could you remember anything that happened?

Salman: I can tell you about the final of the Nations Cup, which was Nigeria versus Cameroon. Cameroon took the trophy at that time, and their captain was Kofi Abe. Stephen Keshi was our captain at that time.

PT: Did you watch the match in the stadium or on TV?

Salman: I watched the match on TV.

PT When Nigeria lost, how did you feel?

Salman: Very bad at that time.

PT: The Super Eagles are back again. Do you think this Nigerian team can correct the mistake made in 1984 and win this time around?

Salman: I don’t really have so much confidence in the Nigerian team. The reason is that when I look at all the teams that are here, the Nigerian team plays like they are female.

They don’t put their leg on the ball. I don’t have confidence in them, but I told my brother that something is telling me that Nigeria is the team that will raise the cup either by surprise or by miracle.

PT: Some years ago, there was a civil war in this country. Now the country has recovered and is even hosting the entire continent. Were you around during the Civil War?

Salman: The civil war started in 2002. I went to Nigeria, but I came back when they ended the civil war. Many people don’t know there was a civil war here, and it’s true because many countries had civil wars, and till now they haven’t caught up; they are still trying to develop themselves.

The reason why Ivory Coast is doing well is because of the present president. He is a man who commands confidence.

In the world, they trust him. He is someone that if he wants to do something, he will do it. If he borrows money from outside the country, they won’t steal it. He will use it for what he is supposed to use it for. That is why some people don’t even know there was a civil war in this country.

And as I said, he is a man of confidence, and many people trust him. He started building houses, companies, and other amenities. That is why people started coming back to the country after the war.

PT: What can Nigeria learn from Cote d’Ivoire?

Salman: It is not that Nigeria does not have the resources; we do and in abundance.

Our government should think of Nigeria before itself. They think of only their family and not Nigeria. If they think of Nigeria, it will not be like that.

Look at the Cote d’Ivoire President now. I’m not saying that he is not eating small money from it, but he thinks of Cote d’Ivoire before himself, and that is what he is supposed to be doing.

Many former presidents in Nigeria have more money than some countries. Where did they get the money? Is it not Nigerian money? It is. They should please think of the country before themselves. If Nigeria is good, everybody will be good.

Today we are talking about Ouattara because all of us in Cote d’Ivoire are happy. We are happy about what he is doing here.

The minimum wage here is 75,000 CFA, and that is over 100,000 in Naira, and that is the weekly salary. Our people in Nigeria that are working, how much are they getting?

They are not getting anything.

They should think of Nigeria. We have the resources; we have more resources than Ivory Coast. Look at our gas–we have more gas there, but it’s still more expensive in Nigeria than it is here as if we are exporting gas whereas we have gas in the country. They should think of the country before their families.

PT: How do the Nigerian community here relate together?

Salman: We have an association, and each local government has its own. All Nigerians have one Nigerian association in Cote d’Ivoire. Any problem we have in our local government or state, we gather together and contribute some money, and even in the local government, we do that.

PT: Is anything attracting you to come back to Nigeria?

Salman: Truthfully, nothing is attracting me back. Everything is based on money. If I am in Nigeria and I’m not getting money, why would I go there? I will stay here. I’m getting something better here than in Nigeria, so I can’t go there.

Because I have family in Nigeria, I can go on holiday. If Nigeria changes for the better, I can go, but for now, nothing is attracting me to Nigeria.

PT: Which five players would you like to personally meet with?

Salman: Osimhen. He doesn’t know me, but I follow him on Instagram. Second, I want to see Osimhen again. Third, I want to see Osimhen again, and that is to show that I love him. I also want to see Ademola Lookman and Sadio Mane.

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