From Cocoa Fields to Football Pitches: Nigeria's Resilience in the Face of Rivalry

By Adeola Odedina 

The enduring rivalry between Nigeria and Ivory Coast, once centered around cocoa production supremacy, has now transitioned to the realm of football. 

Decades ago, Nigeria held sway as Africa's leading cocoa producer, basking in economic prosperity symbolized by a strong Naira and iconic structures like the "cocoa house." 

However, Nigeria's shift towards oil neglected its agricultural heritage, allowing Ivory Coast to snatch the cocoa crown in the late 1970s with unparalleled production levels.

As Ivory Coast flourished in cocoa, Nigeria slipped in rankings, trailing behind competitors like Ghana and Indonesia.

 In 2019, my journey with a GIZ team immersed me in Ivory Coast's cocoa sector, showcasing the resilience and innovation of cooperative cocoa farmers driving their industry's success.
While Nigeria's football rivalries traditionally featured Ghana or Cameroon, Ivory Coast's emergence adds an exciting new dynamic. Yet, amid the competition, it's vital to remember it's just a game—a moment for relaxation and enjoyment.Whether on the pitch or in cocoa fields, wins and losses are part of life's rhythm. 

However, for Nigeria, renowned for its resilience, failure isn't an option on either front.

Let's embrace the challenge, as we gracefully accepted the Grammy loss to South Africa and excelled in AFCON qualifiers. While Ivory Coast may dominate cocoa, Nigeria aims to bring its A-game to the field.

In the end, as the Yoruba proverb wisely reminds us,(“Ẹni ti wọ́n gbá ná ẹsẹ̀ t'oní kò dùn, ara rẹ́ ló wà”) Meaning "someone who claims that today's defeat doesn't hurt, just know they're trying to save face; the pain is still within"

 So, let's rise, Nigeria, with determination and pride!

Dr. Adeola Odedina is a former Ogun State Commissioner for Agriculture, who also served as the provost of the Federal College of Agriculture in Akure, Ondo State, Nigeria and Former Rector Moshood Abiola Polytechnic Abeokuta Ogun State, Nigeria

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