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Eagles ban: So that football will not die

By  Patrick Omorodion

The elders in my little village of Ekpon, somewhere in Igueben Local Government in Edo State, say that if a fly does not listen to advice, it will follow the dead body into the grave. That is the fate of the present members of the Nigeria Football Association, NFA led by a civil servant in Alhaji Sani Lulu Abdullahi.

Nigerians have been crying, telling Lulu and his men that football was going down and that something should be done urgently to salvage what is left of it. But Lulu never listened.

Why? He banked on the false hope of protection provided by his godfather,  who used the paraphernalia of government to climb to the positions he is holding today in football.

Jabulani

This godfather is still a civil servant but each time football matters are discussed, he prefers to identify with FIFA instead of the government, his employer which incidentally funds the game which he pretends to be superintending over.

Lulu first insulted the late President, Alhaji Umaru Musa Yar’Adua. When President Yar’Adua set up the Presidential Task Force, PTF to salvage the Super Eagles’ World Cup hopes, Lulu, himself a member of the PTF, called the body a misnomer, accusing members of the body of wanting to take over their jobs.

When Nigerians shouted that coach Shaibu Amodu had lost touch with the game and was plunging the Eagles into the abyss, government wanted a change, at least to appease the citizens who have so much passion for the game. President Goodluck Jonathan, who was vice president then, even buttressed this position with the fact that he was booed at the stadium when he went there to represent Yar’Adua. But at a meeting he called to discuss the issue, Lulu was alleged to disagree with him, insisting the NFA will swim or sink with Amodu.

The government budgeted N900 million for the World Cup and gave to the NFA, but what did the country get? A substandard and insecure hotel for the Eagles which the government later rejected but with a heavy fine of $125,000.

Other things followed, faulty aircraft that failed to fly the Eagles to South Africa after paying millions of tax payers money and finally an embarrassing performance at the World Cup. All these happened after the NFA hired Lars Lagerback with an inflated pay cheque which some members shared from.

The worst insult from it all was that after earning a mouth-watering salary, took the Eagles on a failed trip to South Africa, the NFA allowed Lagerback to go on leave from South Africa without the courtesy of coming back to tell the same government which payed his bills how it all went at the World Cup.

Yes, the Eagles have been banned from further participation in international competitions but I believe government should temper justice with mercy. By this I mean that a thorough probe of the NFA accounts should be carried out, those found guilty reported to FIFA and barred from running in the August election so that football would breath fresh air again.

After that the ban should be lifted early enough for the team to be registered for the 2012 Nations Cup qualifiers. Then the so-called annulment of the election of Davidson Owumi as Chairman of the Nigeria Premier League Board should be thrown back at its originator, Professor Ibidapo Obe.


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Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of vanguard newspapers or any employee thereof.