by Sayo Owolabi
It’s been a really long week, but all the same it’s been one I enjoyed and that’s because I am doing what I love!
This week I’m still staying with football. Who doesn’t love football?
The focus shifts to the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and the whole saga that has engulfed it since the end of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. It began with the removal of the ‘Unfantastic Four’ – Sani Lulu, Amanze Uchegbulam, Taiwo Ogunjobi and Bolaji Ojo-Oba, and continued with the controversy-laden elections of the NFF Executive Board. Though the elections went ahead, what followed was a barrage of court cases, most prominent being the one instituted by the Harrison Jalla led National Association of Nigerian Footballers in the Federal High Court in Lagos.
In the ensuing drama, the new board as well as Musa Amadu, Demola Olajire, Rumson Baribote and others were fired from their different posts for flimsy excuses (like not playing the right National Anthem during a Nations Cup qualifier). The only person who probably kept his job was the former international and Eagles caretaker coach, Austin Eguavoen. As all this went on, (the tyrannical) FIFA watched carefully, waiting to step in as soon as it noticed its favourite clause, “government interference”. Ultimately, FIFA ended up banning Nigeria from all international competitions and taking away the team’s other benefits.
Nigerians needed a hero to rescue the team, and just in time, in swooped the now ‘fallen’ Dr. Amos “Fix-it” Adamu!
When all hope seemed lost, FIFA provisionally lifted the ban till October 26 with stringent requirements for a permanent lift. In my opinion, FIFA was waiting to see the outcome of the NANF case which was pending at the Federal High Court. In a swift twist of events, the case was withdrawn on October 25, and the status quo has now been restored. The board is back in place, and it seems that the principle ‘silence implies consent’ has been invoked here.
Hey don’t stone me yet, I totally agree that we need to bury the hatchet and move forward with our football, especially as many young Nigerians earn their daily bread from its existence. However the $800 million question is this: “are we there yet?”
Yes, the board has started work in earnest (notwithstanding the issues surrounding its legality) – it’s setting up committees, planning the inauguration and the commencement of the Nigeria Premier League, appointing a substantive coach for the Super Eagles and so on. But this does not mean the storm is over yet.
There is a dire need to trace the root of the problems that led us into this knotty situation and address them urgently. In my opinion the first port of call is the elections into the Executive Board of the State and Local Government FA Boards. It was a major issue before the NFF elections, causing some candidates to step down based on the alleged illegality of the process.
After this, the NFF Board can attempt to worm its way into the hearts of the 100 million football infected fans across the country by reinventing the glory days of Nigerian football like it was in 1994.
This week the world witnessed the demise of the famous Octopus, Paul (from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa). The psychic cephalopod predicted all of Germany’s matches correctly, as well as the World Cup final game where he favoured Spain over the Netherlands – and were we shocked he was right?
This is to say Rest in Peace Paul. You lived a good and fulfilled life!
Sayo Owolabi is the inspiring co-presenter of Sports Edge and Final Score on 92.3 Inspiration FM, and is referred to as the “Voice of Choice” in the world of sports.
He is the Creative Director of a multi-dimensional media, PR and idea generation outfit, XPRESSIONS MegaMedia, and has his name couched in the acronym SAYOR (Sports And Your Other Requirements).