New Telegraph

September 30, 2023

Nigeria Football Federation election and other matters

On September 20, the four-year tenure of the former board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) expired and just as we were anxiously expecting the September 30 election date slated for Benin to usher in a new leadership, an association of former footballers headed for court to stop the election.

The NFF tactically secured an appeal which allowed the body stage the election which saw Ibrahim Gusau emerge as new boss. But now, we are faced with a fresh crisis as the explayers, through a factional head, Harrison Jalla, are still demanding for their inclusion in the statutes of the NFF saying that the election was in futility. We make bold to say this demand is not something that can be achieved easily. It has to be tabled, evaluated and discussed at the Congress while the level of inclusion will also be examined.

The players should allow peace to reign and then fight for inclusion in the next four years. It is a shock that we enjoy swimming in crisis which in the process affects the fortunes of the game. It was surprising hearing a former international, Victor Ikpeba on a TV programme saying that ex-players should have 37 members on the board like we have the 37 chairmen of FAs.

We feel this is not practicable because it is not automatic for a former player to be a good football administrator. Daniel Amokachi, Karibe Ojigwe, Chikelue Ilouanosi and Ben Akwuegbu were cleared to vie for positions on the board just as Peterside Idah also vied for the NFF presidency. The inclusion they are asking for is being realized gradually but it cannot be forced like that. The interested former players should play by the rules and enter the board through their state FAs.

It was a surprise that Austin Okocha was at some point the Chairman of the Delta State FA which placed him on a good pedestal to gun for the NFF presidency in future but he walked out on the Delta job. To play football is different from administering it. Nigeria’s former players should help to develop the game and offer technical assistance in key areas, rather than working towards creating pitfalls. Nobody can say that the former board was not fair to the former players. We expect Jalla and his team to vacate their lawsuit so that peace will reign with the new administration.

The new NFF board should dwell more on grassroots development and also transition of talented players from one cadre to another. There are many other issues coming up in sports almost on a daily basis, especially football. The international friendly match between Nigeria and Algeria has been on centre stage in the past two weeks since the world is observing the FIFA international window.

While many of the players turned up promptly, some came late. It is important to have an official explanation on the invitation of players and their arrivals. For example, Wilfred Ndidi was one of the early birds in camp but Kelechi Iheanacho, who plays with him at Leicester City, was among the last batch of arrivals. There should be explanations for some of these little things that could cause disaffection or indiscipline in camp. Some of those who arrived early this time might choose to come late next time since there seems to be a breakdown of laws in the camp.

Beyond this, we frown at the decision of the NFF and coach Jose Perseiro to allow Eagles play against Algeria’s B team in a match that ended 2-2. That is not good enough and it was not a surprise that Eagles captain, William Troost-Ekong, picked up an injury in the encounter. The match should have been prosecuted by the Eagles B team as well.

Though they failed to qualify for CHAN, they would have gained some exposure in the encounter rather than taking a risk with our Grade A players. We strongly believe there are more to these friendlies. No doubt, the Amaju Pinnick board of the NFF deserves credit for organising friendlies but we believe there were some underlining things the chieftain of the federation were gaining without telling Nigerians.

The two friendlies staged in the USA were also arranged not only to boost the team but achieve some personal gains for some select people. The way our precious brand the Super Eagles were made to face Algeria’s B team shows desperation and it is also because many of those who could have corrected this anomaly are busy with the forthcoming election into the board of the football federation. We hereby charge all parties involved to embrace dialogue and move on to allow a smooth take off in operations of the game in all cadres by the Gusau board in the spirit of fair play which FIFA preaches at every point in time.

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