*Football is at the point of total collapse in Nigeria
*FIFA is compromised, used against our national interest
By Collins Ajibola
Chief Edet Isong, Publisher of Newsday Newspaper has called on President Muhammadu Buhari to understand that the game of football is a national asset and not FIFA’s thus, he has and should use his inherent powers to declare a state of emergency on our football, sweep the infectious Amaju Pinnick Board away and save the game.
Chief Isong who was reacting to the current imbroglio between the NFF and the Super Falcons said, “the national team belongs to us. We, the people of Nigeria, are the owners. We cannot allow people who cannot manage a small organisation like the NFF to be rubbishing our national image in the mud like this. This is unacceptable.”
Pinnick Board was an error needing correction: According to the publisher, “in the process of getting right people for right offices, diligence must be taken into cognisance. In the Pinnick Board, it did not take us long to realise we’ve hired the wrong person to lead the NFF. Knowing you’re going to have to ‘let them go’ and start the whole process again, you worry about the money, time and resources you wasted by allowing them remain on board.”
“The money and resources you can get back. It may take time, but you’ll survive. What you might not survive, though, is the other non-monetary damages to your business. This is where we are now as a people and a nation.”
He added, “we feel so concerned about what is happening in Nigerian football. Our football is collapsing because of the quality of in-experience of those calling themselves administrators who have been handling the affairs of Nigeria football. For instance, look at what just happened to our Super Falcons who went to Cameroon to make us proud as a country in Africa, but for the inexperience administrators who don’t know how to celebrate glory, the girls have been stranded and treated badly.
“Now two of them have gone back to their clubs without any motivation or rewards, is that how to treat people who bring glory to us as a country? Would that encourage them or others to come play for us again?”
Chief Isong labelled the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF as group of people who have no business and experience on how to manage and run football. They cannot manage a small business lest our football. We need a force majeaure to send these folks to the dustbin of history.”
Pinnick is not qualified to manage Nigerian football: “Let me tell you, the so called Amaju Pinnick has never been in the affairs of managing football. He knows nothing about football. You don’t play politics with our football. Football is the only sports and activity that breaks barrier of ethnicity, religion and tribes amongst Nigerians. It is a common language that we all speak.
“So it is very shameful that our football has gone this way. Football has to be managed by someone who has the passion, commitment and interest for the game and also runs a football club. If you have never managed a football club successfully, what do you need in the NFF?
It is the best of our administrators at the lower levels of the game that are supposed to be processed to the national not outsiders who can buy votes and come and start learning how to do things.
“The individual who heads our football has to be one who has the knowledge of the game, both locally and internationally. That is why Anthony Ikhazabor, Samson Emeka Omeruah, Colonel Abdulmumini Aminu, Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima, even the 47-day old Anthony Kojo Williams made marks therein. Check out the quality of administration under Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi as Secretary General to understand what I am saying.”
Uduaghan did not do well planting his brother-in-law here: He criticised the idea of compensating family members and allies with positions as sensitive as running football in Nigeria by those in government. This is also the situation in the other sports federations. We need people with vast experiences in each sport to manage that sport.
“You don’t just bring someone all in name of being an in-law to a governor of a state to run our football. No, it is not done like that anywhere in the world. It is very sad that Nigeria Football is almost at the point of total collapse.”
He further called on the President Muhammad Buhari-led Federal Government to urgently come to the rescue of Nigeria Football from total collapse, as he also stated that qualifying for Russia 2018 will be a mirage if urgent steps are not taken to correct the ship of our football heading for the rocks.
“I am calling on the Federal Government to come to the rescue of these girls and our football now. It is very sympathetic and disgraceful. Remember this sad tale also happened before with our male Olympic football team, when they got stranded in Atlanta. That shameful act made them arrive the venue of their match less than six hours before a very crucial match.
Rio Olympics poor bronze: “If we would have planned well and give the boys adequate motivation and preparation, nothing would have stopped us from winning the Olympic Gold medal in football. But as God would have it, we didn’t come back with nothing. That alone was an embarrassment on us as a country. Yes, the image of the country was almost dented.
“Football is an instrument of our international diplomacy and cannot be allowed to be touched or managed by mediocres. This is about our national interest.”
Chief Isong regretted the manner the Pinnick-led NFF is handling Nigeria Football, calling them people who have no vision and plan for the development of the game.
“People at the helm of affairs of our football are killing the game because of in-experience. It is just like buying a Range Rover and handing it over to someone who has no experience of driving, the car would crash and the person will end up killing himself. That is exactly what is happening in Nigerian Football.
On the visit of FIFA President, Infantino to Nigeria, Chief Isong lamented the way the World Football Governing body, FIFA, has been compromised, he stated that it is Nigerians who have interest in the game and not FIFA. Nigeria Football is for Nigeria and not FIFA.
Foreign coach in the national team: While also commenting on the issue of owing coaches and players by the current leadership of the NFF, Chief Isong condemned the idea of owing indigenous coaches by NFF, while going abroad to hire less gifted foreign coaches who are provided with the right environment.
“NFF could not pay Siasia his salaries, but went to hire a foreign coach. Someone cannot pay a little over one million Naira, but went to hire somebody else that he will be paying several millions of Naira. Forget about FIFA, they have been compromised. When issues are about Nigeria, they will sit in one office and forge letters and then claim it is from FIFA headquarters. This nonsense has to stop.”
“Who is talking about the salaries of late coach Stephen Okechukwu Keshi and late coach Shaibu Amodu again? Nobody. These people are still being owed until their sad demise.”
He however reiterated that Football in Nigeria should not be a family affair, as there are other ways to compensate family members, rather than encouraging mediocrity in important climes as Football.
“If the then Governor was his in-law, he should have rather appointed him as a Commissioner in his state and not to come and ruin our football that is crucial to us. That place is called Glass House. You don’t bring a new invite to come and ruin it.”
Way forward for Nigerian football: For Nigerian football to move forward, Chief Isong emphasised that capable hands and people with the know-how must be allowed to administer our football.
We need to do something. Some urgent surgical measures need to be taken to save the nation the catastrophic impact of not doing anything. Does it mean that FIFA will say if we, for any reason, we elect a bull into our china shop, as the case is today, we do not have the right to adjust and amend our ways for our football not to die? I am not sure that is their intent for our game.
Assuming that is their intent, then FIFA has declared war on the Federal Republic of Nigeria. That is a clear contravention of the Vienna Convention and it may mean we also taking our fighter jets to fight the enemies of our state because the rule is survival of the fittest.