The NFF, Keshi and Enyeama Brouhaha By Aderonke Ogunleye-Bello
Since the inception of the present board of the Nigeria Football Federation there have been different chronicles of crisis at different levels which is causing a great distraction for the players, Federation and football loving Nigerians.
In Nigerian history, and from my childhood to adulthood, I have never at a time come about or read anywhere that the Football Federation fined a Super Eagles player for the acquisition of a red card. Ogenyi Onazi who went all the way to buy the Team a Chad football matches tape at his own expense to help Nigerian football was sanctioned.
Call it criticism and I will say no, it is a simple analysis of the recent process and procedures of the activities of the NFF in terms of discipline and why not? It is good to be disciplined. In my Yoruba local dialect – South West Nigeria, there is a saying that goes thus ‘Ilu tio s’ofin, eshe o si nibe’ meaning ‘you can never go wrong in a town without a rule of law’. Having said that, I am not against the discipline of any coach or player, but they didn’t go through the right processes before the fine of Ogenyi Onazi, he has not committed any offence to warrant such sanctioning; Do the right thing, come up with a ‘disciplinary clause’ for players.
The NFF took side like an aggrieved stepmother who will get delight in the downfall of his rival’s children. What confidence will that give to the NFF? After all, the said player has being issued a 2-match ban by CAF, it is expected of them as a body to appeal for the reduction of the ban. Instead, they ‘pour sand sand for Onazi garri’ (Add more to his troubles).
Neymar got a red card and a 4-match ban, and immediately the Brazilian FA was thinking of how to appeal the ban, so he can play. Apparently, they value and respect their players. In the game of football, anything can happen, tension rises, and, when it does it is a sign they are totally committed to the cause of the country.
Eagles captain, Vincent Enyeama made ‘uncomplimentary remarks’ about the teams’ safety in Kaduna and, we no go hear word again, na wetin, why you make am captain? According to some feelers, a lot of players went to complain to Enyeama about their safety concerns. Let me digress a little, early this year Kano Pillars players were robbed and shot by armed bandits on their way to an away league game, what if they lose their lives? God forbid! Will Kano Pillars stop playing football? As far as I am concerned, Enyeama was spot on and in his capacity as a captain of the team, he has the absolute right to express his concern about the safety of his team. Maybe, he ought to have addressed the issue internally.
If the NFF thinks he has also erred, why not call and speak to him. There is no code of conduct for them, so why crucify them, these are the players you still use for God’s sake. The Western world respect their players, they get pampered on a regular basis with five-star treatments, and if you can’t provide all these, then you shouldn’t knock them to the ground.
This week, the NFF President went on air to say there are mafias in the Super Eagles, that the Eagles are not friends with each other and so on, ‘haba presido’ he is not in the place to say such to the public and if that is true, why not address these with the players over dinner and in a more friendly environment, propagate peace. Mr. Pinnick is as guilty as Enyeama who was alleged to have made a discretionary private matter public, so who will sanction the NFF President? Lol. You be the judge.
After a private interaction with some NFF board members, I discovered that they have made up their minds to sack Stephen Keshi in revenge to what happened in 2013 where they thought he was going to hold them to ransom, then he threatened to resign his post immediately after the Cup Of Nations, when in reality, they attempted to replace him with another coach in the midst of a competition, believing that, the team will be knocked out at the earlier stage of the competition which we later won. Since then they have refused to forgive him. For how long are we going to allow petty sentiments override common sense at the expense of the Nation?
The way they are persecuting Keshi was how they persecuted Sylvanus Okpala at the 2013 AFCON where they sent him home from the competition unceremoniously, and knowing his right, he sued the NFF to CAS and he got judgement in his favour at the end of the day. NFF is indebted to pay Okpala to the tune of about 100m naira. With the same scenario, feelers also said NFF is owing Keshi an outstanding two months’ salary which contravenes his contractual agreement. If this is true and Keshi is sacked and decides to go to CAS, it is certain they will lose the case to Keshi and may likely pay a heavy sums of money.
Egypt is preparing to play Nigeria home and away in the qualifiers and we are preparing to sack our coach and persecute our players. If they actually love Nigeria the board of the NFF should channel all energy and resources to ensure we win all our games.
I think the raging issues may result to long term problems if the NFF did not act fast, players have their own minds, don’t push them into sabotaging the team. A lot of people follow the Super eagles religiously. Take Enyeama, Onazi and Keshi to a private session and make it a family matter, it is not worth the noise. And if you must sack Keshi, let it be constructive rather than making it appear personal.
I believe we shall qualify for the 2017 African Cup of Nations in Gabon. God bless the Super Eagles of Nigeria.
Journalist, Speaker, Change Agent, Sports for development Enthusiast , Advocacy.