By Paul Bassey 
T
elephone rings…….

Chief Effiong……Hello who is this?

Alhaji Maigari...If I am on to Chief Effiong, I am Aminu Maigari the President of the NFF

Chief Effiong….Ah interesting how are you? You are the one who wants to teach me how to manage my son? When I bought him his first ball when he was three years old where were you? At age six, I got him a football boot because I knew he was destined for greatness.

You needed to be at my house on that day of the final. Over fifty people came to watch the match with me. Neighbours, relatives and well wishers they all came.

And my wife had to cook for all of them because we knew there was going to be a celebration at the end of the match.

Do you know how much we spent for food and the drinks?

Without consulting me as the father, you went and wrote the two million naira cheque in his name. Do you know how much we spend every time he plays? You went and wrote a two million naira cheque in the name of a 16 year old?

I want to return the cheque so that you can reissue it in my name.

Alhaji Maigari.….on the contrary sir, I advice that you use the cheque to open an account in his name, so that as he grows up you can help him to invest and….

Chief Effiong.. ( cuts in ) Invest what? I have told you what we have put in so far to bring him to this level and you want to put enmity between me and my son?

Alhaji Maigari….God forbid sir. In fact that is why I called to first of all congratulate you for siring a child who has the potential of becoming a great footballer if properly nurtured

Chief Effiong….Did you hear when I told you that I knew he was going to be great? Look if not for injury, today I would have been one of Nigeria’s best footballers. I played for my primary school and I was always the one called upon to take corner kicks…

Alhaji Maigari….No wonder your son is so good. Congrats Sir. As earlier said we will find time to sit with you and discuss how best to handle your son’s future, because right from UAE, we noticed the influx of scouts who we believe can short circuit the future of these boys if we do not intervene.

Chief Effiong…listen Alahaji Maigari, I am not a novice, I know what is good for my son and I do not need you to tell me about his future…

Alhaji Maigari.….hold on sir, talk to the Honourable Sports Minister.

Chief Effiong….Hon Minister, are you one of those who want to reap from where you did not sow?

Hon Minister…..I beg your pardon Chief…..reap from where we did not sow? If you must know. We are the ones that have sowed. This country invested millions in those children. For the past three years we have given them the best in terms of comfort of living and personal development. I don’t know about your son, but nearly all those kids stayed in hotels for the first time when we took them over. None of them had flown in an aircraft before. Since we adopted them they have benefited the best of training from first class coaches and international academies.

Ask them about the Aspire Academy in Dubai, five star hotels, best of airlines……they owe this country Sir you owe us for bringing your child to the level where he has become a global celebrity…dines with Presidents, met face to face with Mr Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of The House, Ministers…..

Chief Effiong ….Hon Minister, I withdraw my statement.. I think you have a point there…..I apologise. In fact it was when he always came back from camp that we discovered he could eat rice with a fork and knife.

Hon Minister.…Apology accepted. Sir I asked the NFF President to call you because I heard, and authoritatively too, that an agent offered you one million naira which you collected….

Chief Effiong….Don’t go there….don’t just go there. A whole country gave my son two million naira, an individual brought one million naira and you are querying me…?

Hon Minister…The federal Government’s donation was an appreciation, one that is bound to open the flood gates for more of such. The one million naira from the agent may be an invitation to slavery, a bet that you may regret…..

Chief Effiong …What makes you think you people are the only ones that know about football?

Hon Minister.…Far from it, we are not the only ones, but this is our culture medium. We plan and sincerely too to bring together experts in the business to sit down with all the parents of the kids and the kids themselves to advice on the way forward. We have multiples examples of bright youngsters whose careers were destroyed by self seeking and selfish agents. We do not want that to happen to this glorious bunch at our disposal.

Let me also congratulate you for being the father of such a wonderful footballer as I hand you back to the NFF President

Alhaji Maigari….So sir we are planning to come and see you.

Chief Effiong….Are you coming alone?

Alhaji Maigari…No sir, I am likely to come with one of the coaches and the chairman of the technical committee of the NFF. In fact if possible with other members of that committee including Chairman Christian Chukwu, JJ Okocha, Victor Ikpeba, Garba Lawal…….those who have seen it all and are in a position to give wise counsel…….we also have your country man Paul Bassey in that committee

Chief Effiong……Ah Paul Bassey….we are proud of him. Tell him I saw him on Tv during the Algeria Burkina Faso match. He has added weight…..he is chopping FIFA money….

Alhaji Maigari....We thought so too but when we confronted him he said the cold forced him to wear two jackets that is why he appeared fat…

Chief Effiong …..None of you will admit to chopping money until we catch you with oil on your lips. On a serious note, let me know when you will come because we must celebrate with a feast

Alhaji Maigari…..Sir, that will not be necessary. What we are coming for is serious, bordering on the future of your child and of course the sustained sports glory of this country.

Chief Effiong….My friend we in this part of this country are noted for culinary excellence ask Paul Bassey. Do you know what it means to be visited by the Award winning NFF president? I am not talking about all those junk you eat in hotels….I am talking about home made buffet that includes afangsoup, edikang ikon, white soup with goat meat to go with pounded yam, fresh fish pepper soup……..do you eat dog meat?

Alhaji Maigari…..No thanks I don’t like it.

Chief Effiong… What is no thanks? How can you not like what you have not tasted? The day you eat well prepared dog meat with unripe plantain to boot that day you will bow…..

Alhaji Maigari…(..laughter)……I pray that day does not come ( more laughter) so sir in summary of what the Honourable minister said, it is our desire and the wish of all Nigerians that these boys be guided and monitored for a better tomorrow. Rather than collect a one million that is like a one off…

Chief Effiong….President, forget this one million….forget it. I have collected it and have spent it, except you want to refund it…

Alhaji Maigari…..Sir I was saying that rather than collecting a one off, we will prefer a 500,000 thousand that will come again and again…..I give you the classic case of Mikel Obi and how two great clubs Man U and Chelsea were fighting for him. On paper, Man U was the better choice, but a lot of other factors were taken into consideration in counseling him, including playing regularly and the presence of Africans in the team that will help him settle down faster, and today Mikel is one of the world’s greatest footballers whose profile rises daily…

Chief Effiong….Alhaji Maigari, I am not dumb, I appreciate all you are trying to say…..my only concern is that you people should consider the interest of the parents in all that you do. I could not have invested so much in a child only for you to come and issue a two million naira cheque in his name..

Alhaji Maigari….Sir, again this is a one off. What we are saying here is a stable future. Go to Jos and see what Mikel has done to his parents and siblings…..Kanu, Okocha, Finidi George, Obafemi Martins. With the benefit of proper counseling and good upbringing, even the sky will not be his limit….  Chief Effiong…Anyway, money is like a spirit. If you don’t have, no problem, but the moment it enters your hand you feel like taking a big bottle of stout with every meal. Besides this agent looked quite honest and serious…

Alhaji Maigari…..Sir we are not saying all agents are bad. By the time we know who you are dealing with, he may just be someone we can trust.

Chief Effiong….Ok till you come. You people must bring something for me and my wifeoooooo. You are busy chopping CAF and FIFA money

Alhaji Maigari….( laughter )Have I also added weight? You must be a very interesting person.

Chief Effiong….See let me tell you, did you see that first goal my son scored? That was me in my youth. All I needed from my team mates was for them to put the ball in my left leg and off I went. My nick name was okokobioko…….

Alhaji Maigari ( prolonged laughter….)

See you next week.

 

 

 

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