By Fred Edoreh
Writing on the Today.ng blog on April 24, 2021, under the heading: “Nigeria Soccer Administration Button Reset”, our revered According to Odegbami wants the Honorable Minister of Sports Sunday Dare to dismantle the statutes and Nigerian Football Federation structures to pave the way for a certain class of unidentified people to succeed President Amaju Pinnick’s board when his term expires at the end of 2022.
Echoing Harrison Jalla, Odegbami says the statutes are the management and development nightmare of Nigerian football and wants the minister to immediately begin the process of bringing them down, regardless of how and what the Federation of International Associations may feel or do. soccer.
My immediate reaction is simply to ask Sunday Dare to be careful. Any insightful reader would easily see that “Math” is simply fanning the embers for another season of anomie in Nigerian soccer.
We have had too many. Since its inception, the Amaju board of directors had been drawn into circles of harassment and intimidation through successive ministerial regimes until the Presidency had to step forward to declare its willingness for Nigerian football to remain aligned with the universal statutes of world association football.
But even though they have emerged unscathed from various attacks, the distractions and destabilization have left their mark on the local game.
The statutes of the NFF in question were approved by its congress, have been approved as a bill by the National Assembly and are only awaiting the assent of the President. That’s what Odegbami and Jalla want Sunday Dare to dismantle.
Rather than focusing on politics to heat up politics and create a distraction in Nigerian football, the main concern of stakeholders at this time should be to organize properly to ensure the Super Eagles qualify for the FIFA World Cup of Qatar and a successful start in the next African Cup. of Nations in Cameroon, all in 2022.
The task is to ensure adequate and fluid funding for the Super Eagles’ ten World Cup qualifying matches, their AFCON campaign and the necessary friendlies and camp for both events.
It is common knowledge that the government budget for the NFF this year is less than N1bn for all activities of all national teams. That may only be enough for about four Super Eagles road games. In the tough economic climate, there is not even certainty when the funds will be released, as we have experienced before.
True stakeholders need to worry about that and the implications of upcoming events for all teams and other development programs.
In 2010 and 2014, the government saw reasons to establish a Presidential Task Force to raise funds from the corporate community to support Super Eagles qualification campaigns and participation in the World Cups proper.
Things are even tougher now and that is how far the NFF can go with endorsement marketing as brands and corporate organizations are currently primarily focusing on their survival. Even for sponsors to come in, Nigerian football requires some stability.
Right now, the succession policy on the NFF board of directors with the suggested dismantling of the NFF bylaws just to aid the political ambition of some people would be a major and devastating distraction for Nigerian soccer.
A major problem in the Nigerian soccer environment is the sense of entitlement and the insatiable desire for administrative power on the part of a section of former footballers. They give the impression that only they know the game and, unless and until they are given leadership positions on a platter, everything that incumbent leaders do must be doomed. However, many people are aware that playing the game is different from training, managing and managing it.
We have had quite a number of former Nigerian footballers coaching the Super Eagles and other national teams and we know their scorecards. Odegbami himself has had administrative and managerial opportunities with the National Institute of Sports, Abeokuta’s Gateway United FC, Ibadan’s Shooting Stars Sports Club, and even the sponsorship of Shell programs. We know the results.
We also know how much he longed to be the general secretary of the NFF and the double speeches involved in the process, from Kano to Abuja, and how he also wanted to be the president of FIFA. As such, we must necessarily look at their gift horses in the mouth.
It is also curious that he wanted us and the Honorable Minister to take Jalla seriously after he himself described him in the following terms in his writing: “A person perceived as a troublemaker and troublemaker by many … His message .. . It was not echoed anywhere … For many interested, it is a pain in the … and a thorn in the flesh of successive football administrators … Even among their fellow footballers’ fraternity, it has become more enemies in the fight for the soul of
Nigeria Soccer Administration … Many people “hate” the man and condemn his methods … “
I wonder how these “many people” can be wrong and only Odegbami and Jalla are always right.
I also recall that Jalla was among those who took over the NFF Secretariat a couple of times after the 2018 World Cup Russia, an event that scared off several existing and potential sponsors.
Even the attribution that “he has been in promoting the interests and well-being of former Nigerian footballers” remains questionable given the testimony of then-secretary Austin Popo when he parted ways with the Jalla National Association of Nigerian Footballers and the fact that that FifPro, the international body, has discredited the body. That is the man Odegbami recommends to the Honorable Minister.
Odegbami underscored the possibility that Jalla may be motivated by personal, excessive and obsessive resentment against Pinnick when he wrote: “His most recent dispute has been with the president of the NFF, Amaju Pinnick, whom he persecuted with petitions even to FIFA in a futile effort to disqualify him from competing for a seat on the FIFA Executive Council … I wonder why some higher authorities have not gotten into his issue and resolved it ”.
Jalla’s problem could be because the NFA proceeded to de-recognize the NANF and chose to negotiate with Popo’s Association of Professional Footballers of Nigeria. But tell me, what true patriot will seek to prevent his compatriot from reaching strategic heights in the international arena?
Fortunately, the Nigerian Presidency represented Pinnick as well as Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina for the Presidency of the African Development Bank and Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as Director General of the World Trade Organization. These gestures are not only of solidarity, the Presidency clearly understands the influence that such positions can bring to the nation.
If Jalla had managed to stop Pinnick, it would have been a huge mistake for Nigeria, but a huge victory for his clan.
If Pinnick is your problem, the truth is that we cannot play our football politics without taking into account the currents of the international environment. Pinnick led the accusation against Issa Hayatou at CAF even when the Interior Ministry complained about his arrival at the Executive Committee. When his successor, Ahmad Ahmad, betrayed him, also with the support of high-ranking elements at home, he also suffered consequences as Pinnick has had a rebound.
For a homebody who is well rooted on the global stage, we should see him as an asset to be cultivated for his experience, contacts, goodwill and reach, not only for the advantage of playing at home, but also to attract other compatriots to the system. .
Climbing the stairs of world soccer governance is not a game of childish exuberance. It requires unity both at home and connecting within the proper international circles. If Nigeria brazenly approaches domestic politics, we will all be the losers at home, on the continent, and on the world stage.
Newcomers to the force would have to start over from the bloc and it could take more than a decade to achieve some reckoning.
The least we can do is build on our current achievements with Pinnick and stay solidly in tune with FIFA and CAF, not launch another season of bullying, harassment and mayhem in our football. As they say in common parlance, let’s apply the sense.