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Published On: Wed, Oct 29th, 2014

Nigerian football and greedy administrators

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Minister of Sports Dr Tammy DanagogoBy Taofeek Lawal

Nigerian football music is no longer sweet to the ears. Gone are the days when those who have the interest of the game were at the helms of affairs and they wholeheartedly delivered the good of the game to Nigerians. Talk of names like Colonel Abdulmumuni Aminu (rtd), the late Group Captain Anthony Ikhazoboh, Mr. Kodjo Williams, and the late Air Commodore Emeka Omeruah just to mention few who through sheer discipline and determination brought honour and glory to Nigerian football. But what do we have today, greedy and jobless who hide under the cloak of football administrators to run our football aground.

In the last eight years or thereabout, football administration in Nigeria has become all-comer affairs. People who have no business with football have found themselves running the game for us.

To add salt to injury, these set of people have no business they can really lay claim to because they cannot manage any successfully.

The truth is that many of them have gone out of circulation and by means of survival; they are clinging to the fabric of Nigerian football as a source of livelihood.

Just in August, Kodjo Williams had lambasted those at the helms of affairs of the country’s football saying most of them only want to line up their pockets with nothing to contribute to the game.

He said “I knew that this sort of an embarrassing show was always going to come out because the people who are running the NFF are not football technocrats.

Most of them are politicians, who see football administration as an opportunity to climb up the social status, forgetting that the first reason why they are there is to develop the game. “Most of them are clueless as to the direction to take the game. The only thing they fight for is power and that is why they threw decorum into the wind when they held two separate Congresses in Abuja.

They simply want power by all means and would stop at nothing to get their ambition fulfilled, “Williams added.

The question to ask here is: what is the bone of contention? Truth be told, money, I mean free money is the major reason why some people will do anything to get to the board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). They do all sort of things; bribe their way to get the juicy positions and at the end of the day sit over money that are meant for players’ welfare and the development of the game in the country. The NFF as it were get a monthly subvention of about N200million from the Federal Government, the “windfall” from the world’s football governing body, FIFA, is another.

According to those in the know, the $8million FIFA largesse is the reason for the logjam and commotion we are witnessing at the Glasshouse as the NFF secretariat in Abuja is referred to. Is it not absurd that the Glasshouse was set on fire by the gladiators and nobody has been brought to book? It can only happen in Nigeria where government only use sledge hammer to kill a fly but look the other way when those in position of authorities mismanage our commonwealth.

Three months after their participation at the World Cup in Brazil, it is a pity that the players have yet to be informed about how they will get money that is due to them instead the administrators are at loggerheads about money that did not belong to them in the first instance.

The money it must be made clear is not for the federation but for the players. Neil Buethe, spokesman of the United States Soccer Federation (USSF) puts it succinctly when he said that the FIFA money is for the players and not the football federations. “It’s not a major windfall going into our account (federations).

The vast majority of the funds we received from FIFA for qualifying for previous World Cups went towards player appearances, bonuses and per diem. We expect that to be the same for the 2014 FIFA World Cup,” he said. In Brazil, Nigeria had the largest contingent of individuals which comprised of people who have contributed to football growth in the country. You have the federal government delegation, 37 state FA chairmen, journalists, concubines, girlfriends and friends of the house and all others.

In the course of who becomes what at the NFF, Nigerian football has plummeted and chances that the Super Eagles will qualify to defend their title in AFCON 2015 to be hosted by Morocco are very slim.

While the other so-called “football minnows” are busy strategizing on how their national teams will qualify for the Africa football showpiece next year, our administrators are busy fighting on who or not should occupy the top position at the NFF with attendant court cases which brought our football to its knees.

We are all living witnesses to the imbroglio when the Nigerian Referee Association (NRA) withdrew its services from the league when Chris Giwa was “elected” as the NFF President at the Chida Hotel in Abuja on August 26. Before we knew what hit us, the Super Eagles lost a home game to the Red Devils of Congo Brazzaville at the U.J Esuene Stadium in Calabar which hitherto had been their fortress for all visiting teams. The matter got

complicated when the Bafana Bafana of South Africa held the African champions to a goalless draw at Cape Town four days later.

In the latest FIFA ranking for the month, the Eagles have dropped five places and are now placed 42nd in the world from their previous 37th position. In all these, FIFA hammer is still dangling on Nigeria and many people will not be surprised if in the next few days, FIFA suspend Nigeria from football activities owing to the self-centeredness of our administrators.

A former Nigeria international, Dimeji Lawal has said that recent decline in our football should be laid at the doorsteps of the NFF because rather than addressing the plight of the players, they are busy perfecting strategy on how their aspirations and ambitions would come into reality at the expense of the players. Lawal added that the travails of the Super Eagles does not stem from the poor technical input from the coaching crew nor the players, but rather picked out the football administrators as those to be blamed. “When the head is rusty, how do you blame the technical crew and players

for just not measuring up? It is clear there is no one to chart a part of progress, so the coaches and players have no one to give them ears. It is therefore affecting them off the pitch and on the pitch”, he said.

“Yes result is not good right now but I still want to absolve our players and technical (Keshi and his bench) crew of blame. This was never a time to rake up crises, on the brink of very crucial qualifiers.

Those involved owe us the responsibility to sit up and return football back of course, “Lawal added.

Since he became the NFF President at the NFF Congress in Warri last month, Amaju Pinnick has not really come to terms with the reality at the Glasshouse before Giwa approached a Jos High Court on 23rd of October, 2014 that nullified Pinnick’s election as NFF supremo.

When asked why they approached the court at this point in time, Chief Obinna Ogba, first Vice President of the Chris Giwa board said it is to address the injustice meted to them by the Pinnick faction.

“The Giwa board at a point conceded to sacrifice our mandate and participate in the 30th September election on the condition that it will be moved away from Warri.

We told the sports minister both verbally and in writing,” Ogba said. He added: “we offered to participate in the 30th September election if the venue will be changed from Warri but some people who think they owe this land more than others schemed and insisted they will do things by their own rules.

We went to assert our rights as citizens of this land. Today, we have court orders which they find difficult to upstage.”

The only way out of this problem is to make football administration in the country less attractive else we will continue to witness the unnecessary crisis that has bedevilled our football in recent times. We hope the stakeholders are reading this and will act accordingly.

 

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