FEATURE ARTICLE

Cyril C. NwokejiFriday, April 19, 2013
cyril.nwokeji@wol.be
Belgium

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THE NFF IN FINANCIAL DIRE STRAITS?: FUNNY, VERY FUNNY INDEED!

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read with a great deal of interest the special measures taken by the NFF, to deal with the so - called financial difficulties, in which the NFF, finds its self; among other measures:

  1. The stoppage of the contract of Mr. Valere Haoundounou - the Togolese member of the technical crew of the Super Eagles; who could still be retained, on the condition that Mr. Keshi takes over payment of his salary;

  2. The sacking of Mr. Sylvanus Okpala. One must add that Mr. Okpala's sacking, from newspaper reports, may have some other origins ;

  3. The drastic reduction of the backroom staff of the Super Eagles, with the concomittant removalof the following members : The team's psychologist, The video analyst and The media officer ;

  4. The proposed reduction of the coaching and backroom staff of the under-17 and the under-20 national teams;

  5. The withdrawal of Nigeria from the CHAN championship 2014, in South -Africa.

To say the least, these measures of fiscal discipline, taken by the NFF may, in the short term, bring the needed fiscal discipline to the NFF, but would almost certainly hurt the develpoment of football, in the long term, in Nigeria. It's like the proverbial robbing of Peter to pay Paul :

  1. With regards the stoppage of the contract of Mr. Keshi 's Togolese assisstant, this would certainly rob Keshi of a highly valued assisstant, who has worked closely with him, over the years, and who no doubt has contributed immensely to the recent success of the Super Eagles;

  2. With regards the sacking of Mr. Sylvanus Okpala, I temporarily, reserve my comments, because there seems to be more to it than meets the eye ;

  3. The drastic reduction of the backroom staff of the Super Eagles, is to say the least, suicidal to any chief coach of a team. It's like denying a cook the necessary condiments, needed to make a good meal. What right would the employer of the cook have to criticize the cook, if as a consequence, the cook , cooks a lesser delicious meal ?

  4. The under -17 and the under-20 national teams, would face the same scenario, as a consequence of the impending reduction in their coaching and backroom staff;

  5. The withrawal from the CHAN Championship, would no doubt hurt the develpoment of our football, at the local level. This is a championship, introduced by CAF, to encourage local talent, who may not get the chance to play at the AFCON competition, no thanks to the over-dependence on foreign - based professionals. Nigeria, hasn't participated at the finals of this championship, no thanks to our failure to qualify for the previous editions. Now we look set to qualifying for the finals of this championship, for the first time, thanks to the good work done by the Stephen Keshi -led technical crew on the home front in the last 16 months, the devil has once again thrown the spanner in the works, and derailed our plans !

The pertinent question to be asked at this juncture is: why is the NFF, in the so- called financial dire straits, so much so that it has become so desperate ,as to rob Peter to pay Paul, as a way of bringing about fiscal discipline ?

The answer to that question, is not far - fetched, for any good observer of the activities of the NFF: Here is an organization where periodically, thieves, break in and steal hundreds of thousands of money in hard currency !; from the usually 'porous' vault of the NFF. These thieves are so intelligent, that they smartly beat all security detail at the NFF, and steal the money from the 'porous' vault, and cleverly make away with all the money, without trace! The usual police investigation that follows, normally, yields nothing. Who is fooling whom ?

Here is an organization, where a 'LEGION' of it's officials accompany the National teams on short foreign trips - for the prosecution of an 'away match ,' with the concomittant implications for estacode and all sorts of allowances, consequent on such foreign trips. Some of these officials,stay with relatives and friends and merely pocket the allowances accruing them, as a consequence of these trips. Others stay in the best hotels and feed fat on tax payers' money; while at the same time pursuing other NON - FOOTBALLING ACTIVITIES at these hotels! At the end of the day the bill goes to the tax payer!

Here is an organization, where a 'MULTITUDE,'of officials, accompany the National teams to tournaments overseas - both friendly and competitive- and apart from affording themselves the most luxureous facilities - though in the case of competitive tournaments, mostly paid for by the organising body - boldly engage in dirty politicking, lobbying and canvassing officials of state FA's, whom they 'PERSONALLY 'SPONSORED, on the trip, for votes at the next elections.These wastage of public funds are left as heavy yoke on the shoulders of the tax payer!

Here is an organization, that has not fully exploited the good reputation Nigeria has in football, to make money. Why is the commercialisation and marketing of Nigerian football ,still in it's infantile stages? What of the much they have earned from corporate organizations in Nigeria, so far ,have they fully accounted for them?

Here is an organization, whose ex -officials are accused of corruption, running into millions of dollars !

Here is an organization, that receives yearly ,millons of naira ,in subvention, from the Federal government; the presidency, even provided extra money for the prosecution of the Afcon 2013, in South-Africa.

Here is an organization, that received millions of dollars, from CAF, following our AFCON 2013 victory in South -Africa; yet defaults in the payment of players' allowances! The NFF, also received subtantial amount of money from CAF, for our third placing, at the AYC under - 20 championship.This is not to talk about the millions in dollars received, as a consequence of participating at the 2010, World cup competition in South-Africa.

From the foregoing, the pertinent question is: Is the NFF really broke?; or, rather,is the NFF, suppossed to be broke? My humble assessment is that something is fundamentally wrong with the NFF.If all the 'porous holes ' - both man-made and natural - are plugged, I believe the NFF, would be as financially sound as any financially sound organization on this planet.The truth of the matter, however, is that hoping for a financially sounder NFF, may, be wishful thinking, some sort of utopia; for the simple reason, corruption ,has eaten very deep into the very fabric of the Nigerian society.As a consequence, all the talk about a broke NFF, as serious as it sounds, is paradoxically, funny, very funny indeed to me; for the simple reason , the whole truth, has not been told!

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