Nigeria Continues To Frustrate its Sporting Future
THE Super Falcons went to Cameroon as defending Champions of the Africa Women’s Cup of Nations. They camped for the competition and played the qualifiers without allowances and bonuses but were promised that once they get to Cameroon they will get all outstanding money due them.
They had an outstanding bonus of US$6,500 each before the competition plus another US$17,150 accumulated for winning the Cup the 8th time. The players were pained when the NFF top shots and the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung came to watch the final on a Chartered Flight and left without a word to them and yet claimed they had no money to pay them.
On arrival in Nigeria, while the Secretary General of the NFF, Dr Mohammed Sanusi came to see them at the Agura Hotel once to assure them that their money would be paid, the NFF president, Amaju Pinnick infuriated them when he allegedly told them to quit the hotel because the NFF had no money to pay them.
Information Minister, Lai Mohammed also said that their money has not been paid because of the biting recession while the Sports minister, 24 hours later, said they have not been paid because the ministry and the NFF were not expecting them to win the Cup and so didn’t make arrangements to get money from the government.
The players are now insisting they will not leave the hotel until all money owed them are paid while they may embark on a public protest to let the whole world know the lies and sordid experience in the hands of the NFF.
This is adding to the international embarrassment the country is getting months after the whole world were aghast when our Olympic football team were stranded in the US few hours to their opening game against Japan at the Rio Games.
The Falcons’ protest is a repeat of what happened when they won the Cup in South Africa in 2004. Then they also refused to leave their hotel rooms in Johannesburg unless their allowances and bonuses were paid. They protested then, carrying the Biafran flag, an action that infuriated then president, Olusegun Obasanjo.
The government appealed to them to return home with a promise that they would be paid. The promise was fulfilled only after some officials instigated the players to lie to Obasanjo that it was their coach, Godwin Izilein, an Edo man, who asked them to protest with the Biafran flag.
While the players were all paid their allowances, the coach and his assistants are still being owed till today. Nobody told them why their allowances were not paid and on whose order. Recall also that the Super Eagles also protested on their way to the 2014 Confederation Cup in Brazil over the same unpaid allowances and bonuses. At the World Cup proper, the issue of money came up again shortly before the second round match against France when the Eagles refused to train.
It took the release of money by the government which then sports minister, Dr Tammy Danagogo took to them in Brazil. The Eagles lost that match to France 2-0 and crashed out of the World Cup.
Before the Rio 2016 Olympics, Samson Siasia drew his programme and submitted to the NFF which informed the sports ministry, its supervising body. The ministry pretended it never saw it even when it signed and received the proposal. Reasons later came up why the ministry said it was not aware of the Olympic football’s team trip to the US. Personal and selfish reasons which make stakeholders wonder the manner of officials appointed to oversee sports in our country.
Elders from my little town of Ekpon in Edo state say that the tortoise is always in the news, but for the bad reason. So also is the NFF. While it is still enmeshed in the embarrassing sit-tight situation of the protesting Super Falcons in an Abuja hotel, members of the NFF are again washing their dirty linen in public over who is or not qualified to contest for a position in CAF.
These same people for their selfish gains ensured they worked against Nigeria because they wanted the late Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi to fail. They followed the Eagles everywhere with wicked intentions. At the Abuja National Stadium when they played Sudan, they hired fans to boo and pelt the team and the coaching crew with urine filled plastic bottles despite winning. In Calabar they worked from behind to ensure that the game turned out against the team and the Eagles lost 2-3 to Congo.
In Congo when the Eagles shocked the host with a 2-0 win, they were angry and vowed to ensure the last game in Uyo against South Africa was lost. Their tactics? Ensure players don’t get their due on time and make the referees’ stay in Nigeria uncomfortable. Any wonder the Eagles struggled from 0-2 to level up at 2-2, a result that ensured Congo qualified for the 2015 Africa Nations Cup ahead of the Eagles with South Africa.
I know some people will not believe this but I know those who are involved know I am saying the truth because they know I know as an insider at the time it happened. It was during the struggle to get Alhaji Aminu Maigari re-elected as NFF president against the wish of some people in government. The house was divided and information was freely given. All these are happening because the federal government which still funds football wholly, has refused to look into the allegations of poor management of sports generally. Mr President, Nigerians are not crying wolf, sports is decaying. The time to save it is now or better still hands off its management and allow it to be run professionally while providing the infrastructure for it to thrive.