March 9, 2024

Learning to follow procedures, the NFF example

Learning to follow procedures, the NFF example


By Ernest Osogbue

On 1st March 2024, something rare took place in the annals of Nigerian football. For the first time in many years, a manager of the Super Eagles left his post under amicable circumstances. While most people may not see this event as being worthy of mention, as a follower of Nigerian sports, and Nigerian football specifically, I must confess that to me, this was an event of monumental proportions.

The tendency to focus on negative events has become a norm in media circles. In this regard, positive actions by public officers are glossed over, which is a failing on the part of the media, as it has a duty to report both the positives and the negatives. That is why the amicable parting of ways between Jose Peseiro and the NFF must be highlighted.

Over the years Nigerians have bemoaned the poor leadership with which the country has been saddled, which has resulted in stagnation or regression in many aspects of our national life. The citizens have however failed to realize that they too have a role to play in the emergence of good leadership. This they can do, by being procedural, doing what is right and obeying the laws of the land. When citizens do these, it then helps the leadership to achieve better results.

As far as I can remember since Clemens Westerhof, no Super Eagles manager has left his job without acrimony. Westerhof left the Eagles after the defeat to Italy at the Foxboro Stadium in Boston, Massachusetts, on 5th July 1994, during the FIFA World Cup in the USA. His contract ended that very month. Following that action, all his successors; Amodu Shuaibu, Jo Bonfrere, Phillip Troussier, Bora Militunovic, Thijs Libregts, Christian Chukwu, Manfred Honer, Berti Vogts, Lars Lagerback, Samson Siasia (on interim basis), Stephen Keshi, Sunday Oliseh and Gernot Rohr, have left the team under one controversy, unclear circumstance or the other. This has created a negative impression of Nigerian football in different circles.

In the case of Peseiro, even the most ardent Super Eagles supporter will agree that a silver medal placing at the last Africa Cup of Nations; though a disappointment was unexpected. The Eagles had posted uninspiring performances under Peseiro; drawing and losing matches they should have won. Surprisingly however, the team began to jell at the AFCON. This proves that a calm environment devoid of the usual Nigerian aggression and tendency to desire quick results could be a panacea to success. Before the AFCON, the NFF was inundated with calls to fire the Portuguese, but the NFF President and his team resisted the call, preferring to follow procedures, and allow events play out accordingly.

It suddenly made me realize that it is possible for us as a nation to achieve better results, if we could do away with so much aggro. There is too much aggro in Nigeria of today. Long years of military rule have erroneously led Nigerians to believe that aggression solves problems. Unknown to many, it is in calmness and quietude that the best decisions are made.

The government is aggressive with citizens, and even abuses its own procedures; it makes a policy, and expects citizens to follow immediately without any form of orientation. Before you know it, there is chaos everywhere. The opposition is equally aggressive with the government, and shouts down every policy whether good or bad. Agencies of government like the police, the military and paramilitary, take delight in being aggressive with citizens. Little wonder everything we do is chaotic; there is usually aggression and chaos before, during and after elections, registration for NIN, BVN, obtaining an international passport, buying fuel at the filling station, and driving on the roads. In fact doing the basic simple things in life in Nigeria must be done with aggression if you are to succeed. It has got to the point where I believe that the name of our country should be changed to accommodate our aggressive attitudes. Other nations around the world including African States have noticed this tendency and use it to mock Nigerians.

For now however, it was with joy and excitement that I witnessed the exit of a Super Eagles coach, without the usual Nigerian aggro and chaos. I understand that there was a contract before Peseiro, with the NFF wishing to keep his services, but the man wisely decided to exit when the ovation was loudest, good luck to him. He took time to pen a thank you note to his colleagues, and the last time I saw him on television, he was beaming with smiles, underscoring the fact that he was leaving with a positive impression of our country. It becomes necessary therefore to commend the NFF President Ibrahim Gusau, the General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi as well as the entire management team for their vision in this particular circumstance.

The challenge before us as citizens therefore, is whether we are watching, listening and learning. Leadership does not begin when you become the president of Nigeria, or when you become the governor of a state; you can lead by example from whatever position you occupy even as an ordinary citizen.

My hope therefore is that our dear president Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, members of his cabinet, the different opposition groups and labor unions, agencies of government, and the everyday Nigerian, can learn from the example of the NFF President Ibrahim Gusau and his team, that following procedures and processes is not a weakness but strength, and yields better results.
If we do, I believe that we can tone down the unnecessary aggro and chaos in our nation. If we are calm and listen to each other, we will discover that we all actually desire the same thing; which is a great and prosperous Nigeria.