By Eddie Akalonu
President of the National Association of Nigerian Footballers, NANF, Harrison Jalla has called for sweeping changes in the leadership of the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, stressing that the Sani Lulu Abdullahi board should go in the face of glaring inefficiency in the running of the game.
Speaking to Saturday Vanguard Sports in Lagos, Jalla said the NFF has done nothing to add to the value of football in the country since coming into office.
Jalla expressed NANFâ€™s deep concern that Nigeriaâ€™s 2010 World Cup qualification campaign is moving â€œon a regrettable bumper- to bumper that makes a ticket doubtful. NANF is concerned at the turn of events, just as Nigerians have the right to express their feelings the way they have done since the Eagles drew 2-2 with Tunisia in Abuja recently.
We feel NFF should take responsibility for what is happening because we raised alarm years back about the ineptitude of the Lulu-led NFF. Then, the first task they performed on coming into office was done on a wrong footing. That was when they employed a foreign coach, called Berti Vogts andÂ signed a contract for him to be based outside the country. That was a blunder people in other countries wonâ€™t accept from an FA. For a national team coach based and working from outside the country? How? These were questions we posed at that time but were ignored.â€
Continuing, Jalla said â€œNowhere else in the world has anyone, group or team committed such blunder and it was overlooked. A national team coachâ€™s job is tied to the development of the game internally and this we all know this.â€
â€œTake South Africa as example, they employed a coach one year ago when their football went down and he has been tasked with the building of a team for the 2010 World Cup they would be hosting in addition to developing young talents who constitute the team they have now. We saw their team during the Confederations Cup,â€ he stated.
â€œIf Nigeria fails to make it to South Africa, just like the game has been in comatose, the country is going to lose a lot of benefits, especially on the economic front by way of goodies that accrue to World Cup finalists, something that countries have always ploughed back into development of the game over the years.â€
â€œThe result against Tunisia vindicates NANF because we had advocated running of football by purely professionals vast in itâ€™s administration. But what happened? We were ignored. Now, it is my conviction our stand can no longer be overlooked because of the turn of events concerning the 2010 World Cup. Views being expressed by Nigerians are inÂ agreement with NANF that the current NFF has failed and should go without delay. Professionals should come in to salvage the game from total ruin.
Asked what action his body intends to take to actualise itâ€™s dreamÂ NFF, Jalla said,Â â€œSoon, we will come out with an action plan for total take over of NFF by professionals. We want Nigerians to do away with Lulu and his men because they have bungled the World Cup 2010 and made a mess of football. Look at the Under-17 age controversy, they have shown no regrets for what has happened, they have no apology to offer Nigerians. Rather, they are celebrating it with honour while Nigeria is now the laughing stock of the rest of the world. . Is that an NFF we want to allow? The answer is no, of course.â€
He further disclosed that â€œNANF has identifiedÂ capable Nigerians who are professionals that we can nominate to the NFF Board to run football. We have in mind people like Segun Odegbami, Adokiye Amiesimaka and others. We will role out this plan soon and this in my opinion, would set the tone for proper running of football. We have done our home work and we crave the support of Nigerians because if it is given a chance, football will see a turn around soon.â€