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The NFF executive board should resign

The NFF executive board should resign
April 01
13:19 2016

When the final whistle was blown in Alexandria to end the match between Egypt and Nigeria it also ended the hopes of Nigeria playing in the Gabon 2017 AFCON. The 2nd consecutive time; the third in 4 events. 

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For me that was the culmination of a chain of events that I trace back to Brasilia, Brazil. To the days after Nigeria had been knocked out of the world cup second round by France. The head coach for the world cup was Stephen Keshi, his contract ran out after the world cup or whenever the team was knocked out – so it was said at the time. Keshi himself resigned during the post match press conference after that France defeat. He confirmed his determination not to continue to me in an exclusive interview a few days later just before the squad departed for Nigeria.

Following these I was at the Sao Paulo hotel of the NFF delegation as they were departing to Nigeria and I spoke to one official. I begged that we had to appoint a new coach quickly so that the AFCON qualifiers will be prosecuted and we can defend the trophy won in South Africa. I had no idea that then NFF Board was up for reelection and that was far more important than winning matches on the pitch.

What followed were events that led to there being factions of the NFF. It was disgusting to observe from a distance. Eventually a Board emerged headed by Amaju Pinnick. Meanwhile the qualifiers had started; Nigeria had lost a qualifier at home to Congo. Another defeat to Sudan was to follow and then a goalless draw in South Africa. Qualification now was a major doubt.

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Return victories over Sudan and Congo set Nigeria up nicely for a home match with South Africa where another win would have ensured qualification. A 2-2 draw ended that dream and the defending champions crashed out.

Needed to do the above because Nigerians are the very best at selective amnesia when it comes to the conduct of public officials and also in national events. This current NFF Executive Board has presided over TWO AFCON qualification failures and there is absolutely no way they can wriggle out of it. In any other country the Sports Minister will be asking the Board to resign. They have failed the country’s football fans completely and have no excuses whatsoever. Age grade tournament successes do not count. In football, countries are measured by the successes of their clubs at continental competitions and by their senior national teams. No in between.

The NFF are currently on a media offensive to try and deflect that this failure is not their fault. There are those who will back them “because there have been obstacles in their way”. There might well be. The inference here then is that they are currently not competent enough to surmount these supposed obstacles given these two failures.

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The resignation of the current NFF Executive Board – if it ever happens – will probably be the best thing to happen to Nigerian football. It will show for the first time a group of people who are ready to accept their failures. If they resign they will be able to tell Nigerians these “many obstacles” that have been on their paths and impeded their tenure. These information will help the Sports Ministry and the new Board so that Nigerian football will be better for it.

When teams fail, the players and the coaches get the blame. Had Stephen Keshi presided over the entire series and missed out he would have been fired by the weekend at the latest. Had Sunday Oliseh gone through the qualifiers and failed, he too, would be gone. Now, there are no coaches to blame which means only the employer of coaches is responsible and should be held accountable. This is not a call for Amaju Pinnick to resign. He has been at pains to say from day one that decisions are taken collectively by the Board. On that score it is the responsible thing for the collective to resign. Frankly, it is even sad that they have not resigned yet.

As I said on a TV programme on the night of Nigeria’s ouster “Nigerian public officials never resign after failing”. I am not holding my breath that these will resign.

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