It took the woeful performance of our darling National team, the Super Eagles to eventually get one form of action from our President, Goodluck Ebele Jonathan.
The always taciturn man has at least decided to talk about something. Some people have said it is likely that they were making fun of him over breakfast at the G-8 meeting that he became so peeved and when he came back home, he decided to “Show those boys pepper” and to borrow the words of Chief Zebrudaya of the Masquarade fame, disbanded the team with immediate alacrity.
Since when has this President been so efficient? This, to me, is another fire-brigade move that will bring more harm , than any good to our football.
In the first instance, we risk a FIFA ban, then again we stand to miss two nation’s cup and the next world cup. In case Jonathan has not been well briefed, no government anywhere in the world tells FIFA what to do, except in extreme circumstances like the one of Togo.
Yes, the Super Eagles has failed us, they have humiliated Nigeria but we were not the only nation disgraced out of the World Cup. France, Italy, Cameroun and Ivory Coast were in the same boat. The French team was the worst of the lot, there was infighting in the camp, a player was sent home and the coach was not talking to some players.
What happened when the team returned? President Sarkozy had a meeting with star player, Thiery Henry, the Legislature is holding an inquest and the French Football President, Jean-Pierre Escalettest has resigned. That is what serous nation do.
If anything, this ban which has hit all major news wires in the world shows that we are a nation that do not Think things through, that we are incapable of research and to use the local parlance, we are a fire-brigade nation.
You do not need to withdraw from fifa competitions to build a formidable national team, it takes careful planning, hard work and vision. Look at Ghana that is now riding high on the world stage, the Under -17 team played very well in 2008, but did not win any major trophy, the team was not disbanded, rather some fresh players were added to the core, and the team graduated to the Under-20.
That was the all conquering Under-20 team that hit the history books as the first African country to win that Under -20 tournament in Egypt. Seven of those players played for the Black Stars at the last Nation’s Cup, Angola 2010, and five of them are just about to make history in the national team.
In our own case, we had an Under-17 team that won the world cup in 2007, instead of graduating the team, when we went to the African qualifiers for the World Under – 20 tournament and came third, the team was disbanded, a new Coach was brought in a few months to the tournament-and of course, we all saw the disastrous result. Out of the whole team of 23 players only Lukman Haruna is in our present Eagles!
So, football like everything in life, begins with planning, the cliché if you fail to plan, you plan to fail is very true, and so dis-banding the Super Eagles is not the solution. What are we re-organising anyway, if we have a Minister that is just there on Federal Character or quota system.
Meanwhile, if truth be told, what was the role of this Presidential Task Force? How many of the 32 participating countries had a Presidential Task Force on the world Cup, the Task force in my opinion was an unwanted distraction, it was this same Task Force that forced the FA to sack Amodu because he came third in Angola and that we played woefully.
Now let us be objective here, the Task Force funded by our money saw nothing wrong in paying the Eagles bonuses for drawing matches, it saw nothing wrong in paying players for losing matches, their excuse was that it will motivate them! What rubbish, any footballer who needs money to motivate him to wear the national colours is not worth wearing the green and white jersey, it was a huge scam-and we all know it. And all the while Jonathan was silent.
It was this same Task Force that sacked a coach a few months to a tournament, a coach that has qualified us to two world cups and employed a coach that was sacked for not qualifying his own country to the world cup, what an irony! Amodu had his flaws, all we needed to know was to appoint able assistants, he was not a bad coach, he was only too defensive. Lagerback was not better as the results have shown.
I began to have doubts about our world cup campaign when the nation celebrated our 1-0 loss to Argentina, one of the papers declared that it was an impressive loss, what does impressive loss mean? We have lost to this same Argentine side thrice, the Fifa Under-20 finals, the Olympics finals and now at the world and we were celebrating. Since when has our national psyche became so warped that we have elevated mediocrity and failure to such a pedestal.
Anyway, for President Jonathan, Nigerian are pained more by the state of inactivity in his Aso Rock, he should have first removed the log from his eyes. Where we not in this country when Mrs. Dezeani Allison-Madueke went to the Benin-Ore Road to weep, promising to fix the road in not time? When she failed, she was not disbanded, she was sent to another Ministry and when the tough-talking Jonathan got the opportunity to show his displeasure about her disgraceful performance, he rather promoted her from her position as a Falconet to Super Falcon by assigning her the juicy Petroleum Ministry.
We have all been shouting that the war of corruption has waned since Mrs. Farida Waziri took charge of the EFCC, instead of removing her, the tough-talking Jonathan has rewarded her with a National Honour!
Weeks after the monumental show of shame in the country, I mean, the Legislative box office boxing match that took place in the House of Representatives, we have not heard the tough-talking Jonathan make a simple statement to condemn the show of shame.
And has he deemed it fit to sack his Minister of Football or Sorry, I mean, Chairman, National Sports Commission for the failure? No, the man who spent millions placing some funny adverts during the mundial is still enjoying his estacodes and laying the blame on others.
Since he took over, President Jonathan has not deemed it fit to disband the Management of PHCN, he has not sacked the top civil servants in the Ministries of Agriculture, Water Resources, and others that have failed Nigerians- and have made our country a laughing stock of the world.
If he wants to reorganize football, he has to reorganize the economy, , he has to first appoint a knowledgeable Minister of Sports, break the Amos Adamu Cabal that has held our football down for years and make the economy work so that the private sector will have funds to invest in sports. Ninety per cent of the clubs in Nigeria are run with tax payers money, that is not what happens in any progressive society. He has to ensure that the right men man the FA and we have to take youth development seriously. Rebuilding our football, just like our country will take more than playing to the gallery, it will take more than two years and Nigerians are not fooled, we love football but love a better Nigeria more.
EFFIONG is a Lagos-based journalist