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Coach Bolaji Ojo-Oba, Ph.d, Why Not?

By Ikeddy Isiguzo
THERE must be a limit to the cynicism we are allowing to ruin our football. What is really wrong in Dr. Bolaji Ojo-Oba, Secretary-General of the Nigeria Football (Federation) Association selecting the players for Eagles next international friendly? Peter Rufai, the one we call Dodomayana, one of our best goalkeepers ever, is opposed to the idea. I cannot understand his grouse.

Many of us do not know enough about Dr. Ojo-Oba’s pedigree. This could account for oppositions to the man’s truthful position he would personally pick the team that would play the unconfirmed game against Paraguay.

What do they think Dr. Ojo-Oba has been doing over the years? On what grounds are these oppositions built? Is there a coaches’ union that can deny him membership? Or a certification for coaching in Nigeria that Dr. Ojo-Oba would not scale through? How many of us have been round the Eagles bench more regularly than Dr. Ojo-Oba in the past two decades?

He has earned more than a coaching certificate, but it is also important Nigerians understand the impact of the Secretary General on the game. The fuller story could be told some day, barring details that some would insist must be wrapped up for national interest.

I started noticing him around our football about 24 years ago, when he was engaged as part-time French translator. It was a minor role that soon became indispensible as he was the one to cater for referees, who were again mostly French-speaking. Everyone knows the game cannot be played without referees.

When Iwuanyanwu Nationale played against Diarraf of Senegal in 1987, I remember us travelling together, sharing the floor for bed in the non-descript hotel the hosts provided. He grew fast on the job, got the attention of CAF which assigns him security duties at its competitions.

Nothing propelled Dr. Ojo-Oba faster than the arrival of Dr. Amos Adamu on the scene about 1990 when Air Commodore Anthony Ikazoboh recruited top sports managers from the higher institutions, believing they had ideas to run sports.

One of the rules in the league Dr. Ojo-Oba has played in for more than 20 years is to believe you can do anything in the godfather’s name, who so freely protects his own. The godfather has not failed him, nor the numerous other sons and grand-sons of that generation of sports administrators, whose marks have stuck to the sands of time.

It is easy to misunderstand Dr. Ojo-Oba. If he said he would personally select the team, he possibly had done it before telling us. He is not frivolous when it comes to stating the reaches of his vast powers. For years the responsibility for penciling down (as the media say) those to be invited to the national teams has been his. What he failed to do was claim responsibility, which must be why Dodomayana never knew who called the shots.

Critics of the Secretary General are mostly envious of the heights he has attained, including memorable involvements in the organisation of Nigeria’99, 2003 All Africa Games, and most recently the 2009 FIFA U-17 World Cup which is still winning plaudits abroad while it is subject of probes at home.

With the search for a foreign heading in all directions, a multi-skilled sports expert with competences in administration, coaching, languages, security, organisation, referees’ welfare, protocol, and above all familiarity with the CAF family, could be what we need.

Dr. Ojo-Oba, a patriot of undisguised bearings, is ready to extend his services to an area of current national need. Instead of sneering at his penchant for annexing territories, we should be glad that we got a clue from Dr. Ojo-Oba, personally, on how the NFA runs  if any task appears challenging – Dr. Ojo-Oba adds it to his brief. If Dr. Ojo-Oba does not coach the Eagles, we run a risk of having no coach at all.

PS: I was unsure if the safe broken when some people stole $236,000 in March 2009 from the NFA was in his office. I left out Dr. Ojo-Oba financial finesse because I could not confirm this information.

Not So Fast!
SOME are already suggesting Coach Shuaibu Amodu should transmit a letter stating his position on his demotion to the abandoned half of the Super Eagles  a team called home-based Eagles. Amodu is reportedly away for medical attention. While transmission of letter and Doctrine Of Necessity have slipped into our political lexicon, it is important we know what offence Amodu committed against the NFA, the game and the people before we ask for his head again.

Who has forgotten his contract stated he had to get to the semi-final of the Nations Cup?  He even won the bronze, qualified for the World Cup! We should be careful in tackling the next phase of Amodu’s engagement with the NFA.

30 Years On…
BY March 22, it would be 30 years since Nigeria won her first Africa Nations Cup title 3-0 over Algeria, first two from Patrick Olusegun Odegbami and the third by Felix Owolabi.  Hassan Shehata, proposed Nigerian coach, played against Nigeria at the National Stadium. Egypt lost 1-0 to Okey Isima’s goal, but Shehata, for years Egypt’s top strike, scored in the 2-1 defeat of Cote d’Ivoire.

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