By Patrick Omorodio
It is no longer news that Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi had a running battle with his employers at the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF during and after the 2013 Africa Nations Cup in South Africa, especially after the federal government and some state governments rewarded the team for the victory.
It could be recalled that some members of the NFF Board openly accused Keshi of taking the glory alone, adding that the NFF equally contributed to the success of the team.
“Keshi is just behaving as if he alone made the Super Eagles success in South Africa possible. The NFF Board also played a vital role. We gave him everything he needed to succeed so why is everyone praising Keshi as if he alone made the victory possible,” one of the NFF Board members had said.
It is on record that after some state governments hosted the Eagles and splashed some monetary reward on them, with players who are indigenes of those states getting double of the money others got, some top officials of the NFF convinced some other states from where they hailed from to host the NFF and reward the Board members.
Consequently when the government of Cross River State which hosted most of the Eagles qualifying matches decided to host the team and splashed millions of Naira and land to the team, Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi acted fast and took a chunk of the money approved for the team and gave the NFF Board members.
This is however coming to light as disengaged Assistant Coach of the Super Eagles Sylvanus Okpala spilled the beans in an interview with Saturday Vanguard sports in his fight to get the NFF pay him his slashed bonus and outstanding salary as outlined in his contract with the football house.
“You know I was no longer with the team but when Cross River State government paid us the money it promised us for winning the Nations Cup, I didn’t receive the amount announced by the governor. As a result I contacted my boss (Keshi) to ask why I got less than what was announced. I have also received my C of O for the land.
Keshi then told me that I should accept it that way, that it was the decision of the coaches to part with some percentage of their money to give the NFF so that peace would reign. I then told Keshi that now that I know he was aware of it, I have accepted it but not without asking him whether he thinks that by giving them a part of the money, he will have the peace he is looking for.
He answered and said, Insha Allah, by the grace of God, I hope we will have peace. But has he got that peace now? No. I know because the NFF had a mind set, they wanted Keshi out and have been plotting towards it.
They never wanted us to do well in the Nations Cup and didn’t want us to qualify. They said I was dragging the president’s name into this matter but it is true that Maigari told me he doesn’t care even if I report him to the president. He said so, he cannot deny it. Now tell me, if we hadn’t qualified for the World Cup, will Nigerians not say that we couldn’t qualify under President Jonathan? Did they mean well for the country and the President?,” Okpala asked.