By Paul Bassey
Last week, Thursday to be precise, the demolition process commenced.
Alhaji Aminu Maigari was booted out by his own board. Before now, all arguments that this board was perhaps the most successful in the history of Nigerian football fell on deaf ears. The simplistic answer was that “…..what goes round must come round.”
Last week, the very board that we sought to defend came out to deny their achievements. That Alhaji Maigari went solo, aided by “a cabal”and that for “…eight months, they did not meet”
That set me thinking. Could he have achieved more if he carried them along? Besides why did this board wait for this long to do what they did last Thursday?
Not to matter, the handwriting was already on the wall. For engineering the ouster of Sanni Lulu, Alhaji Maigari was doomed to go, so I was told, no matter what. In the process we had to undergo a needless and embarrassing FIFA sanction, become the laughing stock of the world.
A distraction if you ask me. Apart from wishing that we do things right and as prescribed by Statutes guiding football globally, I am of the opinion that we are again chasing shadows and neglecting the essence of our football development.
Already, plans are afoot to start preparations for Nations Cup qualifiers in Morrocco.
Competitions…competitions…competitions. No school boy curricula in our football house. The youth football department is non existent. Academies run wild…… Pray how do we develop our football ?. Methinks this was the best time to sit down and ask ourselves what really went wrong in Brazil. Records must be set right.
Yes, how come we did not do well in Brazil when we had all the potentials so to do? After identifying our flaws as it were, on and off the field, we will then stand a good position to forge ahead and work against future re-occurrences.
The media blitz that greeted the release of the Super Eagles list before the World Cup was best understood when we struggled in Brazil without quality players on the bench to ring changes in case of injuries and substitutions.
Emenike is an example of a player who would have dropped dead on the field, without anybody good enough to replace him.
World Cup statisticians have it that of the 171 goals that were scored, 52.of them came from players that came off the bench, including the world cup winning goal of German substitute Goetze.
How do we ensure that in future we will guarantee by whatever means the selection of the best legs to represent this country? How do we agree to drop and for good, those players that were exposed at the World Cup, without the odious reference to interference?
We heard how players boycotted training in the thick of the World Cup to demand for money, despite assurances by well placed Government officials like the Senate President that their demands will be looked into.
I belong to the camp that would have retired ALL the Eagles that went to Brazil for that singular selfish act that ended up jeopardizing the fortunes of a whole country. I repeat that I am yet to hear of any Nigerian National team, that was shortchanged from its bonuses, appearance fees and allowances in the past that would have necessitated such a crime against this country.
How do we guarantee that we have officials who will be in control, disciplined enough to rein players and sanction them for falling foul of the law? I remember Ghana sending two players home for anti camp activities. How come we are yet to get a concise report of what happened in our camp? I may be wrong, but I believe any coach who fails to stop his players from boycotting training is either not in control or he is in support of such actions.
It happened before the FIFA Confederation Cup, happened again during the World Cup and no one is interested in making sure that it does not happen in Morroco next year. Of course it will.
When Ghana succeeded in flying $3million dollars cash to Brazil, FIFA voiced its displeasure. The world was disappointed, yet we were blackmailed into doing the same thing, necessitating the sharing of money overnight to the detriment of an important match?
How come the coach of the Super Eagles could not get his salary when it was due? Did I hear someone suggesting a wage bill of 10M Naira a month? I laugh! Five million we struggled to pay.
Much has been said about the attitude of NFF officials as regards the non respect of the Sports Minister in terms of protocol and reception. I remember Chief Umeh and Barrister Musa fighting in Abu Dhabi as the NFF Vice President said he was denied a VIP ticket. When we came back we swept it under the carpet. How do we ensure that henceforth, such issues are not repeated?
Perhaps more fundamental to this whole drama is the development of the game in Nigeria. In an earlier charge against the Maigari administration, funding of grassroot football was said to be neglected. State football chairmen should bow their heads in shame. I can count on the fingers of one hand, chairmen who even understand what football management is all about, who are conversant with the rules and regulations governing the sport.
In Congo DR I came across one of our chairmen who was made the leader of delegation of a Nigerian team. He cut a sorry sight as he knew nothing of the rules and regulations of the CAF Confederation Cup. For him, the primary thing was the travelling, the hotel suite, the car and the state box seat reserved for the leader of delegation.
Perhaps I am expecting too much. Back home, how many of them know about the rules and regulations of the various leagues, the Federation Cup…..how many of them have attracted sponsorship to their state football programmes outside the governors cup that they expect funding to come from government house?
This, to me is key. Football must thrive from the states. Perhaps I do not mind returning football to its Association status. The NFF Chairman has no business living in Abuja. He and his board members should operate from the states and only come for meetings.
The NFF Secretariat must be well staffed and well run. League bodies professionalized.
Today, there is a mad rush to become the next NFF President and board members. I propose a debate on National TV. Let all contenders come and tell us their contributions to Nigeria’s football starting from their states’ schools and colleges. I propose that all those who ousted Alhaji Maigari should be barred because if they succeed, in four years we will come back and remind them how they ousted Maigari and demand that they leave ( Laughter )
On a serious note and in summary, we should demand and get a detailed technical (and tactical) report of the World Cup. We must be presented with an Administrative report and most importantly, we must of course demand and get a financial report!
Failure to do this will only postpone the evil day.
See you next week.