“Indeed, the technical committee is only an ADVISORY BODY that cannot be in any power tussle with the coach over selection of players. They, like the rest of us journalists and fans, can have their SAY on who should go to the World Cup. But it is the coach that must have his WAY on who makes the final squad. This is the standard practice in world football and Nigeria cannot be different.”
I DID NOT WRITE Soccertalk last week in silent protest against the orchestrated crisis between the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi. Even this week, I had already decided to skip the column (notice that it is coming a day late) because I was still upset that the NFF, in particular, had not come out to categorically deny all the unsubstantiated stories purportedly coming out of the Glass House about their relationship with their national coach.
Another reason I decided to remain silent was a private discussion that I had with a journalist friend and colleague penultimate week on the purported NFF/Keshi imbroglio. We didn’t agree on a few points and I was concerned that raising those points in my column might be misconstrued by my colleague as an indirect attack on him; or bringing our private disagreement into the public domain.
In fact, when Ikechukwu Ajuonuma of RayPower and another journalist from the AIT stable called to seek my views on the so-called “NFF/Keshi crisis,” I had to politely turn them down.
Even without any comment from me, I was confident that Keshi was quite capable of dealing with the so-called crisis. But I thought it would be better if good reasoning prevailed.
That was exactly what happened on Tuesday, April 8, 2014 in Abuja when NFF board member and chairman of the media committee, High Chief Emeka Inyama, addressed sports journalists at the NFF Glass House. I address my good friend Inyama with his full title of “High Chief” only when I’m happy with him. And, at this moment, I am very, very happy with him.
Speaking officially on behalf of the NFF, Inyama who is himself a veteran journalist, totally debunked all the divisive speculations that had dominated the media since Keshi returned from his holiday in America. Inyama announced that the NFF had concluded arrangements to pay the coach and his assistants all their outstanding salaries, plus three additional months IN ADVANCE up till June 2014. Inyama concluded by saying: “The Nigeria Football Federation enjoys cordial, warm and wonderful relationship with the Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi.
He is our employee and we will do everything to support him. Like I said earlier, we are also satisfied with his performance on the job, and our duty is to be partners in progress.”
Indeed, you only pay an employee his salaries in advance if you are truly satisfied with his performance.
I believe Inyama was speaking officially on behalf of the NFF hierarchy when he said those words. If that is so, then I suggest that NFF president Alhaji Aminu Maigari should instruct all executive committee members, secretariat staff and members of the “powerful” technical committee to speak and act in the same manner in the days and weeks ahead as we count down to the FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil. Anyone that makes comments or leaks documents intended to cause or promote disaffection between the NFF and its coaching crew should be dealt with as saboteurs who do not mean well for Nigeria.
As goalkeeper Vincent Enyeama said from his French base earlier in the week, genuine lovers of the Super Eagles are tired of the “unpalatable news coming out of Nigeria.” He said further: “We are the African champions and we must let ourselves enjoy the moment. In essence, we don’t want to hear any story of disagreement in the football family please.”
Inyama’s media address in Abuja is a positive response to Enyeama’s pleading.
Faceless Sources of Discontent
WHILE Emeka Inyama, technical committee member Paul Bassey and even NFF vice chairman, Chief Mike Omeh, have been quoted copiously that there really is no crisis between the NFF and Stephen Keshi, the stories about discontent and division are always attributed to some faceless “sources in the NFF.” Is it that we have fifth columnists in the Glass House or the “sources” are a mere fabrication? High Chief Emeka Inyama, please investigate!