Former Nigeria’s Ambassador to Argentina, Ambassador Chive Kaave
A former Nigeria’s Ambassador to Argentina with concurrent accreditation to Chile, Peru and Uruguay, Barr Chive Kaave recently granted an interview to Corereporters’ Emmanuel Elijah where he said he will not lobby or seek public office unless God directs. He also spoke on other issues.
As a trained lawyer, what prompted your entry into football administration?
Divine accident if you like. I was working for the Benue Cement Company Plc Gboko, as Company Secretary and Legal Adviser. I was very interested in football and it got to a point where the Management appointed me to be on the Board, which I served for many years, and behold one day, vacancy for the position of Chairman of the BCC Lions Football Club of Gboko, arose. They said, here is somebody who has studied this system so let’s make him chairman of the club. That was how I became Chairman of BCC Lions FC, Gboko.
How well did you manage the BCC Lions FC, as chairman?
We lifted every Trophy in the Nigeria football at that time. That is, the Challenge Cup and the Professional League, and went on to lift the Mandela Cup in 1990. In fact the Challenge Cup, was like our natural gift. And to show that God was blessing our efforts, I got elected to the Board of the Nigeria Football Association NFA(now NFF), representing all the football clubs of the North Central. So if that is success that was the reward for the success. Trophies and elevation.
What was the secret behind your success as Vice Chairman and then Chairman of BCC Lions FC of Gboko?
People think that there is a secret in winning but there is none. But if there is one, first entrust your efforts in God and what does God say,” By thy sweat thou shalt eat.” We made sure that we sweated on the pitch of play, by training vigorously and doing what is required of us to win. I mean continuous training without relenting, marked with discipline and self confidence. All these factors, bring about results and success. I didn’t go to voodoo houses but I made sure that we went to church with the team and we asked for blessing from God.
Was it your managerial prowess or lobbying power that earned you the ticket, as Board member NFA?
If you say it is lobbying, yes because we had to go and lobby the other states in the North Central, to support Benue’s candidature for the slot which was meant for us in the zone, and if you also say prowess, of course we had a club that was very successful and only had a rival in Plateau. Plateau United. That is to say, in the whole of the North Central, the most successful clubs were in Benue and Plateau and Plateau had produced several persons on the Board and so it was obvious that by rotation, it should go outside of Plateau state.
Did you indicate your interest or you were nominated?
The position was vacant and people were asked to file in nominations. So I was nominated by clubs and I won. In fact, I scored 97 votes, to emerge winner after beating Assistant Commissioner of Police, Joseph Ibi (rtd) from Nasarawa state. That was in 1999 to 2003.
What was your achievement as board member, NFA?
It is always difficult to appraise oneself but I can tell you that each time I had the opportunity to lead a delegation of the National team outside Nigeria, I always came back victoriously. I never lost any match. I was leader of delegation of the 2000 U-23 team captained by Joseph Yobo, preparing for the Olympics in Australia. We had a critical match in Uganda which we needed to win for us to stay ahead of our rivals. I left the team and we beat the Cranes of Uganda 3 – 1. It was a spectacular miracle and we qualified for the Australia Olympics. Joseph Yobo rose from that victory to become the captain of the Super Eagles of Nigeria. Although, we lost in Australia. The then Minister of Sports, led the delegation to Australia. I also led the U – 17 Falconets severally which as the camp commandant, I camped them in Makurdi for their qualifying matches. We went to Mali and beat them 5 – 1 and toured all over Africa without losing any single match, and qualified to represent Africa in Canada. Again, the sports minister led the delegation to Canada.
Why didn’t you recontest after your first tenure in 2003?
At the end of 2003, I contested to be chairman of the NFA board, but political pressure was brought to bear on me to concede the position to another person which I did and so the Federal Government, compensated me by appointing me as government nominee on the board for another three years during which I later became the Vice Chairman of the board of the NFA. I know that if I had stayed longer, perhaps I would have realized my dream of becoming the NFA chairman but before you knew it, politics set in and I wanted to become the governor of Beneue State. I contested but lost and later, I was made the Benue State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice by Governor Gabriel Suswam. A full time job for five years and so, as far as the business of football was concerned, the door was shut.
While in the football business and administration what would you say were your regrets?
In 2001, while I led the U – 17 Falconets to Mali for the match which we won 5 – 0, I returned to my hotel room and while watching the CNN TV, I saw where the Nigeria Soldiers had invaded the territory where I come from, mowing down tents, burning down houses and human beings. I was shocked that one of my younger brothers was shot right in front of his mother. Nobody’s house was spared including that of the father of General Victor Malu, former Chief of Army Staff. In fact the wife of Gen Malu’s father was also shot. It is a pain that I find it difficult to let escape from my memory. I was alone in my hotel room and I wept. I said how can this be happening, is it a dream? Well, then President Obasanjo in whose time the unfortunate incident happened, visited Benue State and publicly tendered an apology to the people. With that, there was some level of comforting, healing process and consolation from a person who hardly offers apologies to anyone.
When your doors of becoming the NFA chairman and governor of Benue State were shut, what was your next line of action?
Governor Gabriel Suswam, nominated me and I became the Ambassador of Nigeria in Argentina, with concurrent accreditation to Chile, Peru and Uruguay.
How did you view the ladder of exalted positions in your life, coming from a humble background?
I only have to thank God having come from a poor background, I received a university education, particularly as a lawyer in that community. All of these, I consider as act of special grace, love of God and mercy on my family for me to receive all of these archolades.
How was the experience like, managing four countries of Argentina, Chile, Peru and Uruguay?
Well, the farthest country was Peru, four hours flying from Argentina where I was operating from, Chile, two hours and Uruguay 45 minutes flying. It was a very enriching experience. Latin American countries speak Spanish so I had to learn speaking Spanish in my old age, interact and see what other countries are going through and to learn. It was in Argentina that I had the opportunity to go to school again and learn the concept of waste to wealth in a three minute lectures. I learned that every place is a market, everyday is a market day, everywhere people are buying and people are selling. Then for you, what are you doing? Are you buying or you are selling? Whatever it is you are doing, will determine whether you are a poor man or a rich man.
Was that the reason that informed your decision to take to business?
Yes. I have done everything with my life in the public service without adverting, my mind to business and I have reached a point where I am no longer going to seek public office as such unless God gives it to me. I will not lobby or seek elective office by the grace of God. What I am going to do with my time is creating opportunity for young people to learn to be self reliant by using their skills, hands and brains and not to look forward to public office because the public office is already choked. I want to create wealth by sweat.
What kind of business are you into now?
The first is agriculture, I am a mango farmer and now I am going into cocoanut farming. I have a small cocoanut farm which has not less than a hundred trees. I want to also go into food processing which is grossly lacking in Benue State. I want to start with drying vegetables like spinach, Pumpkin leaves etc, fruits and condiments like pepper, ginger, tomatoes because Nigerian community in the USA, UK, Canada etc, love and cherish Nigerian soups like, ‘ginger, aninge’, ‘igyande’, adenger’ and others so if you are drying all of these and it gets to them, they will go for it and then those things will not get wasted as they get now. There is serious post harvest wastage in Benue because we don’t have food processing plants in the state. Don’t take Nigeria”s money abroad, invest in the country, invest in the various aspects of our economy, agriculture, waste management. In that way, you will create so many jobs and take young Nigerians away from crime and the streets and you will reduce the incidents of banditry Boko Haram, etc. Once they are busy, their minds will not be occupied by criminality. There are too many young Nigerians and graduates looking for white collar jobs and these jobs no longer exist.
What advice would you have for the government as encouraging business?
They should run the government as a business because it is too much like the social service and there is no money now to run social services. Government should be an enabler of a good environment for business. They should subsidize loans so that people who take loans will not kill themselves.