*Keshi will look back at his mistakes and hope he will have another chance to correct them in the future. In the meantime, he is bound to miss the glamour of being Super Eagles coach, his tax-free salary and generous match bonuses and the highly rewarding endorsement deals the likes of which he cannot get elsewhere.But surely, this hero of Nigerian football will certainly be back again in the nearest future.
– Culled from Soccertalk, 22nd October, 2014.
WHEN I WROTE the foregoing words two weeks ago to conclude my article titled “Keshi Remains a Hero,” even I never thought in my wildest dreams that the then freshly-sacked Stephen Keshi would be back in the saddle as coach of the Super Eagles so quickly.
Although I had a few misgivings about his removal which I expressed in the article, Iaccepted the decision by the new Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president AmajuPinnick as sound for several justifiable reasons which I also enumerated.
However, Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan apparently did not consider those reasons “justifiable” when he ordered Keshi’s immediate reinstatement last week. In doing so, Jonathan derobed Pinnick and his NFF executive committee of the last shred of respect they might have had in the public eye, and exposed them to serious public ridicule. By the same token, Jonathan elevated Keshi to the status of a tin god, untouchable by those that are supposed to supervise his work at the NFF.
I was so upset by Jonathan’s action that I couldn’t wait nearly one week to write this column, so I took immediately to my Twitter handle, @Mumini_Alao to declare: “If true, GEJ (GoodluckEbele Jonathan) is WRONG to reinstate Keshi. If he had an interest (in the matter, he) should have stopped Keshi’s removal in the first place, rather than this absurdity!”
Oh yes, I think it is very absurd for the president to have stepped into the Keshi affair so brazenly, without a deep thought about the disruptive implications of his action. And if he wanted to interfere, he should have done so before the NFF went public with Keshi’s removal.
Some of the ethical and management questions raised by Jonathan’s imposition of Keshi on the NFF are glaring. Who is the boss between the coach and the NFF president? Is it reasonable to force a subordinate on a boss and still expect a cordial and successful operation? Otherwise put, can you put two masters in the same boat and expect the boat to sail smoothly? Who will Jonathan hold responsible if the Super Eagles fail? Will Keshi now report directly to the President at Aso Rock? By over-ruling the NFF so publicly, hasn’t the president rendered them impotent in striking other relationships or partnerships that may be beneficial to Nigerian football since potential partners will now be wary of some disruptive “orders from above?”
Jonathan and his advisers may not realize it, but the implication of his action is more far-reaching for the NFF than just Keshi returning to his job. The authority of the office of the Nigeria Football Federation president has been damaged!
Despite my displeasure with the manner of Keshi’s return, do I expect him to fail to qualify Nigeria for the 2015 AFCON so that we can prove that the president is wrong to impose him on the NFF? Keshi’s opponents may wish that to happen but I don’t. It is on record that I have always supported Keshi. And now that he has somehow found his way back to the post, I hope he can also find a way to rescue our AFCON ticket which was put in jeopardy under his care anyway.
There is no contradiction; in fact, I am only being consistent. If we say it is wrong for the president to interfere in the appointment of the coach, it is also definitely wrong for the NFF to interfere in the selection of players.Two wrongs don’t make a right. Since Pinnick has chosen not to resign his post in anger at Jonathan’s action, he should simply swallow his pride and give Keshi all the logistic support in pursuit of the AFCON ticket. That is what is best for everybody concerned including Pinnick himself. Irrespective of who is coach, I definitely hope that we can still qualify for AFCON 2015 because Nigeria’s interest is paramount.
Everyone is Guilty!
PRESIDENT Jonathan is not the only guilty party in his handling of the Keshi affair
. The key actors, to wit, Stephen Keshi, AmajuPinnick and minister of sports, Tammy Danagogo also have their share of the blame. Consider the following tweets that I also sent in quick succession after the first tweet that I mentioned above…
“Let’s put things in perspective: Amaju should resign in anger over the blatant government interference which imposes Keshi on him but he will not. Keshi should reject his reinstatement because he knows it has come by government fiat and diminishes his dignity as a coach but he will not. Danagogo should cover his face because what he couldn’t stop Amaju from doing as a government minister, Keshi has done by himself, but he (Danagogo) will not. Amaju used his connections to emerge as NFF president; Keshi uses his own connections to return as coach. Nigeria is a country where Godfathers reign.”
If none of the dramatis personae will take the honourable path as enunciated above, I have decided that there is no point discussing this issue any further. Whatever we get from our leaders both as a people and as acountry, that is what we deserve!
I SHOULD not close the Keshi case file without a mention of the hilarious role that erstwhile interim coach Shaibu Amodu played in the whole affair.
After President Jonathan directed Pinnick to reinstate Keshi “by fire by force,” it was Amodu whom the NFF had appointed to replace Keshi on an interim basis that was called upon to prepare a soft-landing for Pinnick.
Amodu purportedly wrote a letter to the NFF technical committee purportedly appealing to them to “allow Keshi finish the job he had started” on the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers. The committee purportedly accepted the purported appeal and purportedly recommended to the executive committee to purportedly recall Keshi to his post. Ha-ha-ha-ha! Enough said.
Will Giwa Ever Go?
“CHRIS GIWA, it’s time to go!” That was the title of my article when the man who claimed to be the factional (fictional?) president of the Nigeria Football Federation first took us to the brink of a FIFA ban in the immediate aftermath of erstwhile president Aminu Maigari’s forced exit after the 2014 World Cup in Brazil. Giwa claimed he had won a disputed NFF election in Abuja but FIFA refused to recognize him, so we asked him to go!
He “went” on that occasion by stepping down from his acclaimed office which allowed a proper election to be held in Warri as approved by FIFA. But he was back in court soon after which forced FIFA to give Nigeria yet another ban notice for the umpteenth time. That ban was again averted last week when President Jonathan persuaded Giwa to withdraw from court. But the “rolling crisis” surrounding the NFF elections is not over by any stretch of the imagination.
I declare that unless and until the NFF Statutes which vests so much dictatorial power and manipulative influence in the office of the NFF president is amended, there will be no peace in the Glass House. I remember writing at length on the subject when the current statutes were going to be inaugurated during the Ibrahim Galadima era that the provisions were going to cause a lot of rancor during elections. Unfortunately, I have been proved right because every election that has been held since then has been a source of endless conflicts.
To be fair to Pinnick, it may be too early to ask him to do anything about the statutes now because I hear that his election and that of several of his executive committee members are still being contested at the NFF Appeals Committee. Then of course, a certain Chris Giwa, apart from his case at the Court of Arbitration which I’m not sure has been totally withdrawn, is still lurking around asking his camp to be compensated for withdrawing his case from the local court.
If and when Pinnick is able to settle down, it will be his call to ensure that no future NFF president has to go through these post-election “rolling crises” again. The simple thing to do is to introduce a fair and equitable representation of affiliate members in the NFF; and ensure equal opportunities for individual members to aspire to NFF positions.
But if those who are “inside” want to continue to “chop” alone by keeping the others “outside,” there will be no peace for either party because the “outsiders” will continue to use every extra-judicial means to make life impossible for the ”insiders.” A word is enough for the wise.
I CONGRATULATE the Super Falcons for winning the 2014 African Women’s Championship in Namibia a fortnight ago, winning all their matches en route and beating Cameroun 2-0 in the final. Anytime we beat our perennial rivals Cameroun at any level, I derive special satisfaction because they have caused Nigeria so much pain in the past.
It was the Falcons’ fifth title out of seven editions played so far which is quite remarkable. Unlike their over-pampered male counterparts, the girls and their coaches did not create any crises in camp over allowances, neither did they allow the ongoing NFF crises to distract them.
Veteran journalist Paul Bassey brought our attention to a certain……..Dike whose America-based father asked not to collect any win bonuses because he felt that his daughter representing her country was already a great honour. Paul asked if the NFF would tell President Jonathan about the Dikes’ patriotism, but I asked Paul to find a way to tell the president by himself because nobody will.
It is a shame indeed that we seem to have lost all sense of value as a nation. Thanks to the girls and their handlers for setting a good example and reminding us that, probably, all is not lost yet.