I was amused to see a photograph of the Super Eagles on the Yahoo Sport (available at: http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/30062010/58/world-cup-2010-nigeria-suspend-national-team.html) with the caption: “World Cup 2010 - Nigeria suspends national team”. The story line then continued “Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has suspended the national football team from international competition for two years following their poor performance in the World Cup........”
But, I had immediately asked myself; is this all he can do to stem the tide? Yes, is all, was one question that popped into my head at that moment, as I could not see the full logic in what the Nigerian President has done. The president’s action was more like an act driven by impulse than critical thinking.
What is required to heal the NFF and extirpate corruption from it, is a public judicial enquiry on how all allocated funds were spent, including the recruitment of Coach Larger-Back. Interested parties and stakeholders should be invited to testify. All those found guilty of misappropriating funds should not only be sanctioned but totally banned from holding any public office for life, in addition to returning the funds they looted. Anything short of this amounts to window dressing and is incapable of retarding a repeat performance in the future. President Goodluck would be missing the point if he fails to do this.
The reason why I am advocating this position is because many Nigerians, especially the elites have grown the temerity in simply doing what is wrong. And, if Mr. Goodluck Jonathan must be reminded, (assuming he has forgotten) or informed (assuming that he does not know), the Nigerian Super Eagles are simply a reflection of the state of affairs in the country. Expecting to harvest yam when you have cultivated coconut is a dream that will always end up a mirage. As an impaired nation, Nigeria no longer inspires its citizens or anyone for that matter!
The state of affairs at the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is shameful. The NFF has once again proven the Nigerian character of “Turn by Turn plc” i.e. a situation where a group of people come into leadership, not to develop or inspire progress but merely to simply advance their personal and private interest at the very extent of the objective for which they were either elected or imposed (foisted) to that position in the first instance.
Otherwise, how do you reconcile the nostalgic report by the National Daily, a national newspaper (report not yet refuted) that not less than N2.25billion was credited to the accounts of the Nigerian football authorities in the aftermath of Nigeria's qualification for the World Cup. The world soccer ruling body, FIFA, gave the NFF $1million for the preparation of the Super Eagles for the competition and $8million paid upfront for playing all three first round matches of the competition.
This amount of money totalling $9million (N1.35billion) according to the newspaper report was exclusive of the N900million grant received by the NFF from the Federal Government for the preparation and participation of the national team in the World Cup.
With a whooping N2.3 billion in the kitty, the first thing the NFF did was to travel to South Africa to book hotel accommodations for the Eagles at an outrageous amount. The subsequent bickering over ensuing largess from this stirred up concerns about quality and standard hence making the Sports Minister, Isa Bio, to cancel the payment, but the NFF would have none of that, hence insisted on paying a nebulous $125,000 to the hotel for breach of contract.
Yet again, the almighty NFF recruited 87 men and women, aside all the NFF executive board members, granting them all-expenses paid trip to South Africa for the World Cup. It had been reported that the 87 people were made up of all the 37 Football Association chairmen in the 36 states of the Federation and Abuja, and another 30 men and women whose roles in Nigeria football could not be immediately ascertained; including two wives and four children of Alhaji Sani Lulu, the NFF President.
In an interview while in South Africa, Alhaji Sani Lulu had said "Like I told some people before we left for South Africa, the World Cup gives us an opportunity to expose our people to big tournaments, all the people we have taken to South Africa are stakeholders in Nigerian football and it is good for them to come and learn what it takes to organise a tournament like the World Cup, because we may decide to host it in the nearest future, and as far as my wives and children are concerned, who says I cannot take my family to anywhere? If they are in South Africa, who told them it's on the bill of the NFF?"
Indeed, with the astronomic rise in the cost of return ticket to South Africa and the ripple effect hosting the World Cup has had on cost of accommodation (a decent hotel room reportedly attracts $350 a night), feeding, transport and match tickets in South Africa, the NFF is definitely spending a fortune on the welfare of its ‘pilgrims’. This development, observers averred, is tantamount to diverting funds meant for the development of Nigeria football to frivolous ventures.
And now that President Jonathan Goodluck has dissolved the NFF and banned Nigeria’s further participation in international tournament the NFF is crying out to FIFA to intervene. Just last week, the NFF held a closed door meeting where it agreed to send its first Vice Chairman Mr. Amanze Uchegbulam to South Africa to officially protest to FIFA. The NFF had described the sack as government interference in the running of football in the country. But the State Security Service (SSS) officials at the Murtala Mohammed International Airport in Lagos stopped the Mr. Uchegbulam, from travelling out of the country.
Sadly, looting and frivolous lifestyles (as we currently see in Nigeria) is becoming a norm as looting and graft ridden elites grow bolder by the day. The result is that nothing works, and as a result Nigeria dies. For example, it would be good to find out how much Alhaji Lulu earns per annum and the accompanying tax he pays? This would enable us to ascertain his capability to make such a luxurious trip to South Africa with his family. President Goodluck Jonathan would be missing the point if he fails to help us find out.
To be continued next week