By Okey Ndiribe, Abuja
Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdullahi has stated that the recommendations made by the panel that investigated the Super Eagles bonus row in Namibia will be implement to the fullest.
Abdullahi made the remark in Abuja while receiving the report of the panel he set up last July to probe the bonus row between Super Eagles players and the management of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) after the team played a 2014 world cup qualification match in Namibia last June.
“The row over match bonuses has gone on for years but it is time it is stopped. This is because no other country has been embarrassed over match bonuses like Nigeria. We want to be the generation that sat down and said enough is enough. I believe that in future people would look back at this time as the turning point as far as the issue of match bonus is concerned.”
Abdullahi thanked members of the Committee which was led by Segun Adeniyi, former Special Adviser to late President Umar Yar’Adua for a job well done.
The panel had been set up following a sharp disagreement between the players and the management of NFF over slashing of the players’ match bonuses from $10,000 per win, to $5,000 and $2500 for a draw.
In his own remarks at the occasion, Adeniyi identified mutual distrust by the parties concerned; indiscipline on the part of players and the lack of leadership qualities by those who were in charge of the players affairs at the time as factors responsible for the incident.
He expressed regret that bonus payment had over the years been mismanaged by all the parties involved thereby resulting in avoidable crisis that have on different occasions dented the image of n the nation.
“In the particular instance of Namibia, one thing was clear from all submissions made to our panel and all the interactive sessions we held with critical stakeholders.; the Super Eagles players who were handsomely rewarded by Nigerians for winning the Africa Cup of Nations tournament only three months earlier could not appreciate the implication of embarrassing their country while the technical crew conveniently looked the other way because of their own pecuniary and vested interest.”
Adeniyi also blamed the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) over the tardy manner in which it handled communication with the players by not conveying its decision to slash their bonuses ahead of the tournament.
It would be recalled that part of the grievances of the players was that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) cannot and should not slash their bonuses without consulting with them being the actors who suffer all the throes, hits and pains on the pitch.
The players had also complained over the rationalisation of the backroom staff of the national team.
A prominent case was the forced exit of assistant coach Silvanus Okpala whose services are obviously being missed in the team.
They had also raised the issue of the second assistant coach, Valerie Houndenou, who coach Stephen Keshi had to employ and pay from his own pocket.