By Larry Izamoje
They never leave me; the wise counsel of my father .We called him Papa .Growing up, there were times when I wanted to be like the other kids in the neighbourhood who were free to do just anything they liked, but papa would not stop playing guide. He was the ready adviser to point the way forward, the teacher of how things should be done.
He was also the one that pulled the trigger of harsh words and outright punishment when failed attempts to keep me on track appeared.
Will I ever forget his words whenever I derailed or appeared to be off mark? â€˜â€™There cannot be two masters in this house. In this house there is only one way, My Way.â€™ Papa never spared the rod. He also provided all he made us believe we needed, not what we thought we needed.
His master stoke was:Â never fight an institution – You will never win and will stay alone after it all, wondering what hit you and why you went fighting in the first place and moreover my authority is one. Papa has been a member of Godâ€™s army I believe since 1996 but his words remain true everyday and played out again last Wednesday when government crushed government.
Like Papa and I. So it was between the NFA and the federal government .The child kept drifting and Papa tried to get baby NFA back on track using the carrot with the stick so far away. We galloped from lamentation to despair as we struggled to get past low hurdles posed by weak African teams. Government, through the National Sports Commission, NSC kept prodding the FA to do a rethink and make things better but being a government that drew or believed it could draw insulators from Zurich, government was wrong to talk to government except where government had money to give government.
NFAâ€™s dislike for PTF
Carrot again came with a more obvious move, the Presidential Task Force. I am a member of the body and the resistance we faced is better forgotten. The mandate was clear. No one was after their offices. We were help providers empowered by the government from where they drew financial strength.
Like I, growing up and calling myself an adult when I was not one, co-operation was never in their books. Government was wise to make the FA chairman a member of the PTF but opposition started immediately after inauguration as he got the general secretary to attend the maiden meeting of the body less than an hour after inauguration! Less than thirty minutes after that first gathering where we all made bold posits on the way forward and why our games were getting sluggish.
Tantrums started flying from the football government .Government was wrong to come into government. That opposition hindered our work. It dwarfed all the federal government wanted to achieve with the Eagles in this golden anniversary year for our country.
I sadly came to the conclusion just before the nations cup in Angola that FIFA must look at other and better ways for FAs and government of their countries to relate rather than keep threatening blanket bans over interference. I played back how Sepp Blatter works with heads of governmentÂ Â to host his competitions and how Zurich carries a double face when it comes to making the piper even have a say. Not even dictate the tune.
I saw it all, the complete breakdown. There was a government in a government .We have two masters in the House. If there was any dim light called obedience to government it was never seen. If the move was laced with heart thumping results, perhaps government would have left the other government. Selfish pursuit overtook national goal â€¦. no, as that government was not national in outlook and was only a government with perceived powers from Zurich to hurt Nigeria.
As Lulu and his cohorts stay afar reminiscing, Papaâ€™s words come to the fore. Never fight an institution. You will be alone wondering why you did it. They just did not listen.
Another $250,000 scandal
If not, listening was not hefty as a lever for the presidential hammer, acts bothering on misapplication of even FIFAâ€™s funds were unforgivable. Still waiting for someone to wake us from sleep and tell us that two hundred and fifty -four thousand dollars ($250,000) from FIFAâ€™s 1 million dollars ($1m) training grant was not used to buy World Cup match tickets for officials and that the unpaid part of Berti Vogts salary was not taken from what FIFA meant for our players to train and prepare with.
If everyone had pulled together, South AfricaÂ 2010 would not have been the disgrace it was for Nigeria .