Wednesday, 25 March 2015 12:47

Institutional Corruption:New Brooms needed at NFF

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NFF-logo-300Over the years, the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) has been bedraggled by immense and unprecedented level of corruption. Our rich football history and success have been celebrated without a corresponding overture into the unfolding at the headquarters of the Nigerian football governing body.

The abundant pool of talent available in Nigeria remains unchallenged in Africa. The world football community can also attest to the fact that football talent has a free flowing tap in Nigeria. The under 17, 21, 23 and the senior national teams have captured the imagination of the world with their captivating, jaw dropping and scintillating performances

Names like Philip Osondu,Etim Esin,Jay Jay Okocha,Kanu Nwankwo,Rasheed Yekini,Sunday Oliseh and Daniel Amokachi have flown the Nigerian flag high at international football competitions. When one considers the performances of these players at international showpieces, one would be able to acknowledge the fact that raw talent has never been a setback whatsoever. In fact, in Nigeria, the discovery of new talents can be likened to the guarantee of day and night.

Regardless, football management and administration in Nigeria headed by the NFF have become our major obstacle and the reason why more football glory have become elusive. Judging from the available pool of football talent obtainable and available in Nigeria, we should be occupying the echelon of world football with the likes of Brazil, Italy and Argentina and Spain.

Corruption in the NFF has become endemic. Not so long ago, the football fraternity in Nigeria was treated to one of the most absurd scenario when reports of missing and fraudulently managed funds emerged, implicating the current NFF chairperson Alhaji Aminu Maigari. It is on record that the performance of the super eagles at the 2014 world cup tournament held in Brazil was marred by financial irregularities ranging from nonpayment of match bonuses and players boycotting of training sessions. This greatly affected the performances of a very talented group of players.

This show of shame continued after the 2014 world show piece when the leadership of the NFF was impeached by another faction in the federation on the grounds of alleged irregularities carried out by the Maigari led faction. The effect of this shenanigan played a very huge and negative role with regard to the Super eagles’ lackluster performance during the AFCON qualifier which eventually, manifested into our non qualification to the recently concluded AFCON that was held in Equatorial Guinea.

While the populace were raising alarm and demanding that the spotlight be put on the leadership of the NFF, its headquarters located at Zone 7 of Abuja, on Wednesday August 20, 2014 mysteriously caught fire and was consumed by the inferno that ensued. So many important financial documents which could have vindicated or implicated the leadership of the NFF burnt to ashes.

The fire incident as mentioned above was given a new twist when a former top official of the NFF in the person of Victor Umeh insinuated that the whole incident was masterminded by the Maigari led NFF leadership. Mr Umeh called for a thorough police investigation which was never heeded to. Thus, the corruption part of things with regard to the NFF was shortchanged and compromised in this process. The important documents which could have confirmed the suspicion of many a Nigerian have been burnt to ashes.

The NFF remains the biggest setback football growth in Nigeria have continued to experience .Fortunately for us, we have raw talent in abundance. Our football house needs to be put in order before we can start aspiring to be viewed in the same light as the Brazils and Germanys of this world. When allegations of corruption are made, the authorities entrusted with the function of investigating them should come to the party and do its jobs. Otherwise, we would never go beyond being acknowledged as a nation with abundant talent. Mediocrity and under performance will remain the main constituents of the Nigerian soccer fraternity.

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Johnson-Ehidonye Patrick Sopuruchukwu Bernard

Mr. Johnson-Ehidonye Patrick Sopuruchukwu Bernard is Political activist and social critic on Nigerian, African and World affairs. Ambassador at the University of the People, Pasadena California. U.S.A