ByÂ Patrick Omorodion
In the fading years of theÂ Â Obasanjo regime, someÂ enemies of football who went by the name stakeholders ganged up to oust the Board of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) headed by Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima.
Then they made Nigerians believe that Alhaji Galadima must give way to another administrator because he allegedly said being at the World Cup was not Nigeriaâ€™s birth right. That was when the Super Eagles failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
To the uninitiated, this was correct but the real reason was because some of these stakeholders and their sponsor who feels that without him Nigeriaâ€™s football is doomed, could not dip their hands into the NFA till to siphon money.
To them, Alhaji Galadima was just a dog in the manger, not eating and also not allowing others to eat. They got him out of the way quite alright but trouble started immediately after when the sharing of the spoils of the â€˜warâ€™ were to be shared. A few of the stakeholders held on to the juicy offices and travelled round the world wherever competitions held irrespective of whether the national teams did well or not.
The stage was set for Nigeria to miss out of the World Cup again like in 2006 and the same Galadima haters would have eaten their words and hid their faces in shame. President Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Ãdua did not want Nigerians to pass through this road again and therefore set up the Presidential Task Force on the World Cup qualification.
Expectedly, some members of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) took on the President, querying the essence of the Task Force, claiming that they (NFF) knew what to do to qualify the Super Eagles for the 2010 World Cup, the first of its kind on African soil.
The Eagles are on course for the World Cup after the shaky start, not necessarily because of the administrative competence of the NFF men but largely because of the players resolve to write their names in gold and the buoy they received from the Presidentâ€™s interest in seeing that they qualify and join other African countries to do Africa proud.
The President should go a step further to restore sanity in the NFF and flush out the criminals therein.
It is astonishing that months after the NFF reported that a whopping $238,000 was missing from its coffers, nothing has come out of the so-called investigation into the matter. There are even fears that the matter may be swept under the carpet because it was reported that the prosecuting police officer has been changed.
A serving minister in Ghana was sent to jail for reporting that $46,000 kept in his custody was missing or stolen. It did not take eternity to probe the loss or is it theft, why is it taking so long for the stolen NFF money to be recovered or the thieves brought to book?
Nigerians are asking, where is
the $238,000? Who took it? What will happen to the thieves? When government tries to help solve football problems, NFF top officials scream that FIFA will ban Nigeria for interference. But they are not telling us how FIFA will treat the theft of the federationâ€™s money by an insider because no breakage or burglary was reported.
Or does FIFA condone corruption of rogues within its fold. Many cases abound where FIFA wielded its big stick on rogues, whether of cash or match tickets like we saw in 2006. Even corruption within the FIFA house was not treated with kid gloves and some heads were sacrificed to retain its credibility a couple of years ago.
The time for President YarÃdua to act over this missing money is now. They first tried to steal through a bogus budget for the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup but the president aborted it. Before we knew it $238,000 was missing from the NFF. If President YarÃdua orders the sack of the Lulu-led NFF Board, I believe FIFA and the entire Nigerian football loversÂ will doff their hats for him.