Peace Makers And Trouble Makers
Posted: Mar 22, 2012
PEACE MAKER: Ah, thank God that peace has finally returned to Nigerian football. After all these months of legal battles, the Nigeria Football Federation can now concentrate on their task of developing the game. The Super Eagles will soon return to the top of the FIFA world ranking. Nigeria will be one of the favourites for the trophy at the 2014 World Cup finals in Brazil. Ah, Baba God, we thank you o.
TROUBLE MAKER: Which peace are you talking about? Was the NFF at war before now? I thought the President, Alhaji Aminu Maigari, said there was no crisis in the NFF.
PM: Don’t tell me that you’ve not been following events. Didn’t you read in the newspapers that Dr. Sam Sam Jaja and Ray Nnaji have agreed to withdraw their court cases against the NFF? Remember that they secured court judgements declaring the NFF illegal.
TM: So, why have they decided to withdraw? Did the NFF “settle” them?
PM: No. The minister of sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, and Secretary to the Federal Government, Anyim Pius Anyim, appealed to them to withdraw the court cases for the sake of Nigerian football and they accepted like true patriots. In fact, Aminu Maigari described Anyim’s intervention as a masterstroke. He also heaped praises on the minister for his intervention.
TM: All that is eye-service. In truth, what has happened is full blown government interference in NFF affairs!
PM: What do you mean by that?
TM: You heard me correctly. I mean, why should Abdullahi and Anyim intervene in NFF affairs? Is that not government interference? Give me an answer.
PM: Look, you have come again with your weird reasoning. Are you an enemy of peace and progress? Are you not happy that...
TM (Interrupts): Nooo! Just answer my question. I asked, is that not government interference? Just because the outcome favoured Maigari to remain in office, he said government played a masterstroke. But when Abdullahi earlier asked him and his executive committee to step down, they refused.
PM: Look, the fact is that Jaja and Nnaji shouldn’t have taken football matters to the court in the first place. Their action was against the NFF, CAF and FIFA statutes.
TM: Now, you’re talking! If Jaja and Nnaji acted against the statutes, why is NFF now striking a deal with them? Is that not rewarding them for going against the rules? Will that not encourage other people to go to court in future as Chief Adegboye Onigbinde has said?
PM: Please, don’t mention Onigbinde. I thought he said he had returned to the NFF technical committee. Why is he criticizing NFF’s reconciliation again?
TM: Onigbinde spoke the truth. People who flouted the statutes by taking the NFF to court are now being rewarded with honourable membership and are to be adequately compensated. What happens to others like Harrison Jalla who earlier withdrew his own court case so that Maigari’s NFF could be inaugurated? What happens to Segun Odegbami who didn’t go to court and followed the statutes to register his complaints with FIFA? Shouldn’t the NFF be talking to them if they desire total peace in Nigerian football?
PM: I think you have a point there, but suppose they don’t want to talk? Jaja and Nnaji were willing to talk and settle, but can you say the same for Jalla and Odegbami?
TM: Maigari should ask them first. He is the NFF president. If they refuse to talk, that is another matter entirely.
PM: Okay. I’m sure Maigari will consider that suggestion. He is a peace-loving man. But, come o! I think you may have a point on the issue of government interference that you raised a while ago. Did you know that the sports minister has directed the NFF to stop the appointment of a technical director for Nigerian football? He said the NFF were behaving as if they don’t have a superior authority. And to imagine that the NFF had already selected a certain Tom Saintfiet and were only waiting to formally announce his appointment. What happened to NFF’s autonomy?
TM: Autonomy my foot! What are you talking about? Is it not the NFF that recently arranged for the minister to visit FIFA President Sepp Blatter in Zurich? This is how Maigari introduced Abdullahi when they got there. He said, “Mr. President, sir, I have the pleasure to introduce my boss, the honourable minister of sports in Nigeria. He played a wonderful role in resolving the crisis in our football. Help us to thank him very well.” Then, Abdullahi told Blatter that the Nigerian government that he represents gives NFF 20million US Dollars every year. Then, Blatter told Maigari that if you collect that kind of money, you must be accountable to whoever gives you. That is an indirect way of telling the NFF that they are not autonomous afterall. The message is clear.
PM: But we can’t continue to allow the ministry of sports interfere with the running of the NFF. They are only creating more problems. It’s not as if they‘re any better in the handling of public funds anyway. I mean, just imagine the revelations that came out when the Director General Dr. Patrick Ekeji went to explain the ministry’s spending for 2011. There were shocking revelations which are still being investigated.
TM: You are absolutely correct. And that is my greatest problem with Nigerian sports administrators in general. You don’t know whom to trust. In fact, you can’t trust anybody. They are all nearly the same; kettle calling the pot black.
PM: Anyway, thank God that the House of Representatives Committee on Sports are presently conducting a public hearing on a new Act for the NFF. I believe this new law will eliminate all the problems associated with the existing one.
TM: Ha-ha-ha-ha. I dey laugh o! Anyway, let’s be positive that they will do a good job. But I hope you watched the public hearing of the House Committee on the Capital Market last week where the Director General of the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC) Mrs. Arunma Oteh accused the committee chairman, Hon. Herman Hembe, of collecting estacodes for a trip that was not made, and also demanding about N44million to organize the public hearing. If only Maigari has the courage of Oteh to reveal how much the NFF has spent on the House and Senate Committees on Sports, your eyes will probably pop out of their sockets.
PM: What are you trying to suggest?
TM: I’m not suggesting anything. Don’t put me in trouble. The only thing I remember is that not too long ago, there was a House Committee on Sports chairman who was very critical of the NFF. He accused them of corruption and threatened not to approve their budget. But after the honourable chairman went on a trip to perform “oversight function” at a Super Eagles camp site abroad, he started singing a new tune on his return. Abracadabra!
PM: Are you saying that the public hearings are a cash-and-carry affair?
TM: No. I’m just saying we should shine our eyes very well. We should be very watchful.
PM: Will you submit any memoranda to the committee?
TM: I’m sorry, but no. There are enough investigative committee reports and special task force reports on Nigerian football that the House Committee on Sports can use to draft a quality development-oriented document for the management of Nigerian football. To the best of my knowledge, the major protagonists on the NFF Act have always been the sports ministry who want to retain funding and supervisory control over the NFF; and the NFF who want complete autonomy so that they can draw their funding directly from government without going through the ministry. The House Committee should study the merits and demerits of both options very well before adopting one for the new NFF Act.
PM: Which option do you favour?
TM: I support complete autonomy for the NFF. The sports ministry have enough on their hands and should concentrate more on the mass provision of sports facilities for recreation, competition and grassroots development in order to build a strong and healthy nation which will automatically produce competitive athletes in the long run. However, my problem with an autonomous NFF is that they have not demonstrated that they can handle their internal affairs in a fair and just manner; that is why aggrieved members keep going to court. If the NFF can also review its statutes in such a way that all stakeholders in Nigerian football are accommodated, given a level playing field and a guarantee for a fair arbitration of disputes, then it’s not a bad idea to grant them full autonomy from the sports ministry.
PM: But the issue of autonomy has not caused any division during the public hearings so far. In fact, both the sports ministry and the NFF have expressed their satisfaction with the provisions of the new act and are pressing for an accelerated passage by the National Assembly.
TM: Then, I assure you that the new act will not solve the fundamental problem of football administration in Nigeria. The act will legalize the NFF’s change of name from NFA (Nigeria Football Association) and probably harmonise some Nigerian football laws with the statutes which is good. But the problem of authority and alleged interference will remain as we are seeing already with the appointment of a technical director.
Re: Citizen Journalism
Dear Mumini, I just can’t stop getting to you with my random thoughts (citizen football journalist ehn?). By the way, I’m 60+. May I, therefore, seek to reach the NFF through you about the ridiculous names given to two of our national football teams: SAND EAGLES when referring to our beach footballers & FLAMINGOES for the U-17 girls team.
If these are the official names for the teams, then there is a need to have another look at what they portray. Why Sand Eagles when we should simply say BEACH Eagles according to the name of the game involved? We can not run away from the word Bitch only to portray our team as coming from the Sahara Desert! As for FLAMINGOES, it is totally out of sync with our National symbol - the EAGLE.
Even development wise, how can a flamingo transform to a Falconet & then to Falcon? Is that the way to portray the development of our football? Confusion! Their male counterparts are better named - Golden Eaglets, Flying Eagles & then Super Eagles.
What sense does it make to become a falconet after being a flamingo? What is the connection between the two birds? Does it hurt to say, for example: Falconets (U-17), Soaring Falcons (U-20), then the Falcons. Why also do we shy away from calling our totally home based Eagles for CHAN - the GREEN EAGLES to mature to SUPER EAGLES! Afraid of being termed green? Ok, is that not our national colour? After all, are the Super Eagles not ridiculed as Super Chickens? Or the Black Stars now ridiculed as the “BACK MAGIC” STARS of Ghana at the end of the recently concluded AFCON 2012?
Glory or shame goes with performance. When we are on top, no other nation will dare call us names. However, there is honour in being logical. – Dele Kola, Omole - Ikeja, Lagos.
lHELLO SIR. Thanks for your enlightenment on citizen journalists. On Keshi and the pros, I was wondering if the coach is actually building or breaking up his own camp! Is it an enviroment for healthy competition or division? One game in Kigali, and all hell was let loose! When I first heard the result on radio, my immediate reaction was that a draw in Rwanda wasn’t bad after all. But when I began to read all kinds of stories in the print and electronics media, I couldn’t believe some reports credited even to Keshi! – JD.Korode, Offa.
lHello, Alao. Please, football fans want to know what happened to the contract signed between AIT and NFF some years back that all national team matches including friendlies will be broadcast live because we have not been enjoying such for some time now. If the contract is no more, please help us talk to NFF to get another contract so that we can watch our national teams matches live. Thanks. – Soccertalk Fan.
lSENATOR David Mark’s judgmental statement on NFF leaves much to be desired. Football-loving Nigerians know about the corruption in NFF and we don’t need the Senate President to echo it. I once wrote an article in the Nigerian Observer 14 years ago (Towards An Effective Football Administration) where I highlighted corruption in the then NFA as the bane of Nigeria’s football. Please tell the Senate President that the National Assembly also stinks because we are a country where the rulers don’t pay tax on their income! A country where the ruled is made to feed on economic preachment of patriotism while the rulers swim in opulence . – Clement Ojo, Benin City.
lMumini, the excuse that we don’t have creative midfilders in the domestic league will not fly. The coach should scout for them. He should nurture players like Igiebor, Obiora, Haruna, and Fengor and stop this dependance on the likes of Etuhu who are very static! – Odudu Blessing.
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