Nigeria has a massive population of 150 million people, blessed with human and natural resources that have the potential of putting the country on a world map, but the reverse is the case. Football has been worst hit because of the lack of professionalism and accountability in the way the game is run in the Country. Instances of corruption and maladministration has bedeviled this sleeping giant who once rose to fifth in FIFA rankings in 1994 after a superb tournament by the Super Eagles which culminated to its second round elimination by the Azzuris. Since then the game has continued to retrogress to an alarming level.
Technocrats are being discarded for political appointees who know little or nothing about the game, and are just interested in lining their pockets with dollars from foreign trips and estacodes, leaving the game to continue to suffer neglect and deterioration, stories of officials flying their girlfriends and concubines with government cash are rife in the media, a journalist friend once pointed out to me that during a recent friendly, the Glass house ( Nigeria’s football federation headquarters) was without any key official because they had all travelled out for a friendly international.
The local league hasn’t fared any better with court cases and injunctions the norm of the day. Davidson Owumi , the purported chairman was vacated from the seat and later reinstated by another court, now he is been vacated again and reportedly arrested. The football federation elections have becoming something of a Mickey Mouse cum Tom and Jerry trilogy with accusations and counter accusations flying back and forth. Nigeria is an enigma of sorts, a country where anything goes while the game suffers, a place where someone who was eighteen (18) years old six years ago will claim to be sixteen (16) years seven years later (please do the math’s,) a country where a state FA will organize a team from the same state to camouflage as their opponents so that they can win the game by a required margin to gain promotion. There are plenty other incidents that have pervaded the beautiful game. Journalists and free lancers like me who try to expose these and discuss these critical issues are threatened by those in authority to either keep shut or be dealt with. Infact, a current board member threatened someone I know because he dared to expose age cheats in one of the nation’s age grade teams.
The infrastructure is something to cringe about, authorities who are in charge of the stadia and facilities really don’t do much, the National Stadium in Lagos is in a pathetic state and yet subsequent administrators have failed to do anything about it. It is only in Nigeria that the National league will be stopped abruptly so that the FA Cup (in Nigeria’s case the Federation Cup) can take place, while teams who are not participating seat out dormant. In as much as these problems persist,
The latest case is that of the bungled friendly between Nigeria and Ghana at vicarage road in Watford England, many of us who care about the game were shocked by the sudden turn around by the Federation who earlier had a gentleman’s agreement to play South Africa on the same date, that tie would have been much more lucrative if it had gone through but instead the football federation chose to play Ghana for reasons best known to them. Veteran Nigerian Journalist Osasu Obiayuwana explains in this post http://footballisafrica.com/2011/08/will-south-africa-look-beyond-nigerias-snub/
I want to hope that one day our messiah” will come and cleanse the system so our football can be back on track and for Nigeria to reclaim her glory to launch us back to the glory days, but when that will happen I do not know, the top echelon is as bad as those beneath. YES I am talking about FIFA and CAF, won’t bother to go there because that is a story for another article, but like a typical Nigerian on a match day, I will pray and fast that so that the almighty will come down and rescue my great country from this circus of madness.
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