No doubt, Nigerian pop musicians have been smiling to the banks since the turn of the decade. Not because their lyrics make much sense when compared with the evergreens, but this generation of our youth across the continent is game, as they say.
One of the raves of the moment is the hit song by HarrySong, ‘after the reggae play the blues’. Don’t worry about the philosophical bent.
Understandably, so much music and funfair greeted the exit of former CAF strong man, Issa Hayattou, and the subsequent enthronement of the Ahmad Ahmad regime. This change, many believe, would usher in a new order in football administration in the continental body as well as its affiliates.
As the euphoria dies down, The reggae music, more of a repetitive bass, should give way now, to enable us get on with the blues, a melancholy, which the present state of affairs in our football requires.
Instructively, Mr Amaju Pinnick, NFF president, played a prominent role in the plot that ousted Hayatou, a move, many believe would pave way for a breath of fresh air in the regional body.
However, a loud voice is reminding Pinnick that charity should begin at home. Can we really claim to be repugnant of the consumption of dog meat, and at the same timeshare it to the kids with our teeth? Now a salient question…shouldn’t same searchlight be beamed on NFF?
For instance, can Pinnick, as a member of the revolutionary force that ousted Hayatuo, be unaware of the many ‘Hayatous’ holding our state FAs hostage? Most of these State FA Chairmen have spent about 15 years at the helm of affairs. They contribute nothing to football development in their States. In fact, some of them have not even changed the furniture or electric bulbs in the FA offices, talk more changing the fortunes of football in the states. All they do is take vantage positions to get re-elected every four years. It smirks of hypocrisy if Pinnick would play a key role in Hayatou’s exit and do nothing about these sit-tight FA chairmen who do the hatchet job every national election year.
What should add fillip to the need to oust these ‘Hayatous’ from our States is the need to breath some fresh air into the NFF EXCO and by extension, football administration in the land. These myopic individuals put restrictions and other eligibility obstacles to prevent many well-meaning Nigerians from getting into the board. The quality of membership has dropped. It is more of a cult-like setting. Before his election as CAF president, Ahmad was a deputy Senate president and former minister in his country, Madagascar. Such high profile entrepreneurs with clout stand no chance of making it into the board of NFF. The criteria vested so much power in the state FA chairmen. Some of these self-centered criteria should be removed to make room for more quality representation. There are many Nigerians of note out there who could contribute in no small measure in taking football development in our land to the next level, but who , unfortunately have been shut out by obnoxious intrigues. It behoves on Pinnick to open the doors and let them in.
In addition, the Federation needs to explore other avenues for funding. It should depart from the present overdependence on government. A more robust drive for funds would do the board a world of good. The Federation needs financial autonomy to pull out of the apron string of government. As long as government keeps funding the Federation’s activities, naturally, it will continue to have a say in the affairs of football administration. NFF can’t continue accepting government funds and be screaming ‘interference’. The onus is on the board to ensure NFF has that financial autonomy they have always craved for. They should borrow a leaf from the LMC and its aggressive sponsorship drive for NPFL.
Furthermore, let’s pause and ponder why despite our years of dominance at age group tournament we are yet to record commensurate success at the senior level. The reason is simple; use of age cheats. We have placed emphasis on featuring and winning in these experimental tournaments than having a strategic developmental programmes that should lay solid foundation for the future. We fraudulently recruit over aged players to dazzle the world and head straight to Aso Rock for rewards. When MRI screened out majority of the last set of U17s, we were eliminated by Niger. Why should we, in the first place, assemble a team that will be decimated when subjected to proper screening by MRI? It means we set out to cheat abinitio with coaches who were not hired on merit. The bulk of players making waves today in world football were in the teams we defeated to win age group tournaments. Where are their contemporaries from Nigeria. These tournaments should be seen for what they are – developmental.
Equally sad is the fate of our referees. It’s no news our referees are not reckoned with in Africa. Officiating in the local league has left sour tastes in the mouth. The new dawn should stem this tide hampering the efforts of LMC to reposition our league. We know the LMC merely organises the league while the task of appointing and disciplining erring referees rest with NFF.
“A country’s national team is as good as its league”, so the saying goes. Officiating is the biggest threat to the progress being made by the league managers.
Expectedly, Pinnick should have a big say in nominations into CAF new Committees. Hayatou loyalists in Nigeria pulled their strings publicly in favour of the Cameroonian. Regrettably, some of these Hayatou appointees share a lot in common with the “Hayatous” in the states: clueless and selfish. With the exception of Paul Bassey, the rest should step down we should now ensure Nigerians of repute and proven competence are enlisted in these committees. It should no longer be business as usual; job for the boys. Of Paramount consideration should be those who will give quality representation.
What role should be ascribed to the NFF technical department? Is the technical committee all about appointing coaches? What efforts are being made to evolve an enduring and peculiar pattern of play for Nigeria? What criteria are deployed in appointing national team coaches? Favouritism or competence? How do we ensure the coaches invite players strictly on merit and not on sentiments? What machineries have been put in place to boost women football development? These are questions that should agitate the mind of the born -again NFF boss as the reggae gives way for the blues to reverberate.
Finally, as Pinnick plays the blues, he should ponder; what is the place of the NFF Statutes? When would the requisite amendments be done? What of the NFF Act before the National Assembly? Any hope for speedy passage? This will oil the wheels of football development in the land to align with the new thinking in Africa.
• Till next week, keep attacking