Tuesday, October 25, 2016

NFF's Undemocratic Game Of Exclusion

IN JOURNALISM, one of the main characteristics of news is TIMELINESS. As the word itself suggests, timeliness is a "timely" publication or broadcast of a news item. When news is published or broadcast late, it becomes stale. One of the my lecturers during my undergraduate days used to say that nothing is as stale as yesterday's newspaper.

However, timeliness can also be defined by the context of a news item. Whereas the news may get stale within a time frame, still it may be accepted as timely if it is published at an opportune time that makes it relevant despite its age. The main subject of discussion in Soccertalk today falls under the second category of timeliness.

This column was on a sabbatical when the General Assembly of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) adopted a controversial provision on membership of the NFF executive committee in December, 2015. I could only condemn the undemocratic provision at the time in private discussions with friends and colleagues. Last week, however, an opportunity to reopen the discuss emerged when a Bill for an Act for the establishment of the Nigeria Football Federation passed second reading on the floor of the Senate. I thought to myself: This is my chance to put my views on record.

My views happen to tally with those of veteran journalist and sport historian Kunle Solaja of The Sun newspapers who was one of the very few that raised their voices against the discriminatory resolution by the NFF Congress at the time. In his weekly column in Soccer Star, Kunle wrote inter alia:

  "Item 12 of the communiqué issued after last Wednesday’s (2015 NFF) general assembly indicates that an exclusive clique to perpetually run football administration in the country has been created. The resolution reads: “Congress upheld the motion that candidates for position of President of the NFF must either be past or serving members of the Executive Committee of the NFF. Similarly, candidates presenting themselves for Executive Committee position of the NFF must either be past or serving member of the Congress”.
The essence is that football administration is now an exclusive reserve for the 88-members of the NFF Congress. No one can aspire to be NFF president without having being an executive committee member. You can also not become an NFF member except you are or had been a secretary or chairman of a state FA.

Other option is to seek to be either chairman or secretary of any of the four leagues, the referees’ association, that of the coaches or the players’ union.  The likes of Paul Bassey and Adegboye Onigbinde among others can not be in the NFF board despite the services they render at continental and global level.

For the likes of Adokiye Amiesimaka and Segun Odegbami, the doors have been shut against them. As for the private club owners like Chris Giwa, Ifeanyi Ubah and those in their ilk, they may continue to pump money into football in Nigeria, they are destined not to have a say in the administration."

Evidently from Kunle's analysis, the resolution by the NFF congress reeks of selfishness and opportunism. Some people are desperate to keep others out permanently from the management of Nigerian football for no justifiable reason. The big irony is that current NFF president Amaju Pinnick and some members of his executive committee might not have been eligible to contest for their positions had this draconian provision been in place at the time of their candidacy. Therefore, I find it quite distasteful that after "getting inside," they want to keep other people out.

My strongly held view is that sport associations, including football, should be open to all who desire to participate in their management and administration. Every Nigerian, not only those that are well connected politically, should enjoy the liberty to aspire to serve Nigerian football as long as they have something tangible to offer. Incumbents should seek to retain office, not by adopting subterranean provisions to exclude and/or disqualify potential rivals, but on the strength of their performance and achievements. Incumbents should not be allowed to use their influence while in office to rob the country of future leaders just to protect their own selfish agenda.

I have not seen a copy of the NFF Bill that passed second reading at the Senate to know whether it contains the obnoxious provision adopted by the NFF congress last December. But every fair-minded stakeholder should take an interest in this matter to ensure that is not case. Thereafter, we should demand that the congress reverses itself and scrap that provision from the NFF Statutes at their next meeting.

Bodies such as the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) and the National Association of Nigerian Footballers (NANF), if their leaders are not already compromised, should be leading campaigns such as this to protect the general public interest and public good. The easiest way for evil to reign in any society is for the good people to remain silent.

Wither, NFF Technical Committee

I AM SURPRISED that the NFF technical committee headed by Barrister Chris Green have not “summoned” Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr to come and “defend” his list of players called up for matches since the German was appointed.

Rohr has played two games against Tanzania and Zambia and will soon announce his list of invitees for the crucial next game against Algeria. Not once has the technical committee said one word about who should or should not be invited. How times have changed.

One of my major points of disagreement with Green’s committee was their insistence on interfering with player selection when the late Stephen Keshi and Samson Siasia were in charge of the Eagles. I always countered that the technical committee were at best an advisory body with no rights to tamper with the coach’s selection since they would not share in the blame if the team failed and the coach was sacked. But Green and his supporters would gloat that Keshi was an “employee” and that they as the “employer” had every right to “supervise” all technical issues including player selections.

So, why is Rohr is not being summoned to appear before the technical committee so that similar supervision can be imposed on him? Or, is the German also not an NFF employee now?
Even when the NFF hierarchy are angry with Victor Moses for allegedly dodging the Zambia game and would have preferred his exclusion from the next game, Rohr has made it clear he would invite the Chelsea player and the NFF lords have all kept quiet.

Rohr also said he would not invite any home-based player for the Algeria game because the Nigerian League is on break and the players are inactive. Despite the financial implication of having to fly in about 25 foreign based players in these hard times, the NFF have simply said “yes, sir.”

This confirms the disrespectful attitude of our administrators towards Nigerian coaches while kowtowing to expatriates.

Personally, I’m happy that we have been spared the disruptive interference in team selection by the technical committee since Rohr arrived on the scene. That is the way it should be. I hope our indigenous coaches will enjoy similar serenity and concentration to do their job when next it’s their turn to manage the Super Eagles.

I DIDN’T realize that soccer fans were so touchy about the manner of Vincent Enyeama departure from the Super Eagles until last week when I dabbled my big mouth into the subject in this column. Virtually all the respondents gave me the thumbs down! Here goes…
·         No! No!! No!!! MUMINI. Sunday Oliseh sent Vincent Enyeama out of the Super Eagles’ camp using security men. That was the height of disgrace. What of captainship! Oliseh simply destroyed our Super Eagles and left. As I said when he came, he was a misfit. – Aminu I. B, Ilorin.
·         Mumini, I always enjoy your write up as well as concur with them, but I disagree with you on your position about Enyeama’s and Emmanuel Emenike’s return to the Eagles. We are a bit sentimental in this part of the globe instead of objectivity. No country like Nigeria would toy with the idea of having these players back considering the drop in our football. – 0806762****
·         Mumini, No! We need Enyeama please. He organizes his defence better and is good at point blank saves. The current guy (Carl Ikeme) is good but he does not talk nor shout. My big brother surveyor believes you are the most unbiased sports journalist that would be truly happy with Rangers win. Keep it up. – Dr. Onyia, Lagos.
·         ROHR Rhetoric: Speaking frankly, many Nigerians (including myself) will only start believing that this class of Eagles will qualify us for the World Cup after they would have beaten Algeria in Uyo on November 12. Why? The victory over Zambia was “promising” but not “convincing”. What a pleasant surprise it would be if they pull it off and secure the World Cup ticket. – Howard Odigie, Lagos.
·         Since we have a foreign coach for Super Eagles now, Algeria team is not a threat to Nigeria again. We will beat them both home and away. I trust our boys, Nigeria will be first team in Africa to qualify for World Cup 2018. The time of calculation, let team A beat team C and team B play draw with team D before we qualify is over . Nigeria will have straight wins in all their games. – Gordon Chika nnorom, Umukabia.
·         Hi Mumini. I read your column today. Curious to know where you had been all these months (years). Do reply as I truly thought you were abroad. – Tunde Ogunnoiki.
*Hi, Tunde. I’m very much in town!

·         Good morning, sir. Thank God you are back with Soccertalk. Now I can grab a copy of Complete Sports every Wednesday. I was on sabbatical with you. Welcome back. – Uba Stephen Igwe, Badagry.


  1. This is really unfair. Football is such a beautiful game, it's sad to see bad administration destroying it. If a good administration comes, they can make a reputable football team and gain international recognition for the country.