I often wonder if Mr. Ejike Okpa and Mr. Ozodi Osuji are after all right about Africans and Nigerians. These Igbo stalwarts have frequently wondered about the intelligence of Nigerians, Africans and Blacks (with the possible exemptions for themselves). What made me think that maybe they are right is the development in Nigerian Football Federation. One of the strongest unifying bond among all Nigerians is football and sports in general. I was in a joint in Boston during the World Cup games in which Nigeria played. It was a day game but Nigerians were everywhere, perhaps took a day off to watch the game. Hausa/Fulani/Igbo/Yoruba/Efik/Kanuri/Ibibio/Annang/Edo, etc. Every move by the Nigerian team was cheered and many could not sit still for 5 minutes. It was loud and some other non-Nigerians left as they could not have their meals and drinks in quiet. It was perhaps one of the few occasions I saw this many Nigerians in one place cheering the same thing.
I understand that it was the same way in Nigeria and Europe and other places where there were enough Nigerians. Men and women, Christians and Muslims and atheists in one place at the same time. It was a country. It has been less than a year but NFF was in turmoil, even before the WC was over. NFF was at war with Coach Keshi; NFF was at war with the Nigeria government; Nigerian government was at war with FIFA. Then for a few months it looked as if things have calmed down. As we are learning now it was the calm before the storm. NFF and Keshi war was resumed and Keshi was fired. NFF was dissolved (?) and a new head was appointed. Keshi has been recalled by the Jonathan Administration. And Nigeria is/or about to be sanctioned by FIFA?
There are only losers in this episode, with Nigerian people as the greatest loser. The one thing they all have in common and love is about to be destroyed by their leaders. This, of course, is par for the course. It raises more questions:
Is NFF an independent organization or an arm of the FG? If independent who are the masters? If part of the FG does this meet FIFA standards?
Is Keshi's complaints: poor training facilities, non-payment of staff salaries, no quarters for him and key staff, lack of freedom to run his team, low-ball budget, etc., true? Are they reason enough to get him fired? Is the reason for firing him (poor performance in the qualifying games) the true reason or is this giving a dog a bad name before killing it?
Is it FG job to recall him? Is recalling him the best thing for Nigeria?
What is going on?
If we cannot get our economic house in order; if we cannot get our politics in order; why can we not let the poor suffering Nigerians enjoy this one safe harbor? I ask.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba
October 30, 2014