January 22, 2018 is a date that will linger on in the memory of most Liberians both home and abroad.

That was the day the slumdog millionaire of Liberia, George Tawlon Manneh Oppong Ousman Weah, engraved his name forever in the sands of time.

He emerged as the 25th president of Liberia, taking power from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf .

The 51-year-old is the first and only African player to win both FIFA’s World Player of the Year trophy and the Ballon d’Or.

He was largely absent from Liberia during the 1989-2003 civil war period, playing for a string of top-flight European teams including Paris Saint-Germain, AC Milan and Chelsea.

Weah becomes the first famous football player in the world to clinch the highest office of a country after retiring from the round leather game.

The 1995 FIFA World Player of the Year defeated the incumbent vice president to win the presidential election in the West African country. 

During his inauguration, Liberians of all ages formed long lines outside Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium, near the capital, Monrovia.

"I have spent my life in stadia, but I've never felt like this," Weah said in his inaugural address.

We can go on and on to eulogise the achievements of George Weah both as a footballer and his emergence as Liberia's President, deservedly anyway. 


The Weah Challenge

After watching a man who against all odds, did not give up on his dreams, forge ahead and fulfill it, the question on my mind is this -

"When will a Nigeria ex-International summon the required courage, dabble into the murky waters of Nigeria politics and hold a political office”?

Yes, you might say Nigeria politics is too dirty, how will they survive? I share in your fear and concern but there is no harm in trying.

This is the same excuse we have been giving since the birth of democracy in Nigeria that has left us with limited options to choose between the devil and red sea at the turn of a new political dispensation.

I know you will say politics is a different ball game and cannot be compared to running for public office but let me remind you that most footballers have an element of human resource managerial skill in them.

As a footballer, you are expected to work with several people in a team. People with different family, social and cultural background.

It would be extremely difficult to turn out well in a team if you do not have a good working relationship with your teammates and backroom staff.

Politics in a sane environment is all about service, managing people and optimizing resources.

An average footballer has all these qualities in him but how well he utilises is what matters.


'Politics Is A Different Ball Game'

Some of the ex-internationals while sharing their thoughts on the matter said the nature of Nigeria's politics is the main reason why many of them are afraid to join. 

Ex-Super Eagles players Friday Ekpo and Garba Lawal who had one time during their football careers played with George Weah said that why many ex-internationals have stayed away from politics is because of the complexity of the Nigeria political system.

Ekpo said the emergence of George Weah is an eye opener for his colleagues while Garba Lawal believes politics is not everyone.

In as much as they have valid opinions, we all know that if we continue to entrust the future of Nigeria into the hands of selfish and insensitive politicians, we might end up having no country to live in.

It feels safer to stay away but as the great Martin Luther King Jr once said, "The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." 

After his rise in power in both politics and football, George Weah taught us a valuable lesson indeed.

In one of his public address in Monrovia, George Weah said;

"When I embarked on my journey as a professional soccer player, I heard the same negativity," he told a crowd in Monrovia in August. 

"Many critics said that I wouldn't make it. Many suggested that I would be a failure, but I didn't listen to them.

"I kept pushing and defying all odds until I succeeded as one of the greatest soccer legend the world has ever produced. Today, those that said I was going to be a failure are now calling me 'Chief'."

My dear ex-internationals, the time is now. It is never too late to grab the bull by the horns, weather the storms and navigate the rocky roads of politics.

Nigeria needs you!