That public administrators, in general and sports administrators, in particular, have been found wanting in the discharge of their duties in Nigeria over the years, is a fact that is well established. This gross lack of performance by public officials can be seen as one of the leading reasons why Nigeria continues to decline, development-wise. The sad fact is that most of these officials, who have been handed the administration of Nigeria’s resources, see themselves as fool-proof repository of knowledge, not willing to imbibe new cultures and ways that will produce positive results, still willing to continue in their corrupt tendencies at the expense of the beloved masses of Nigeria.
The media has been awash with news that the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) is planning to force a foreign technical assistant on Super Eagles tactician, Stephen Keshi, even though Coach Keshi has insisted that he is okay with his present back room staff. According to some media reports, the NFF members have expressed strong worries on the ability of the former Eagles captain to lead the team creditably at the 2014 World Cup, although the coach insists that he can operate at the highest level without any such fresh staff whether foreign or local.
The call became more vocal after the conclusion of the CHAN 2014, where these officials claimed that the Nigerian team lacked technical support, as shown in our performance in the semi-finals against 10-man Ghana and Zimbabwe in the third-place match. They allude that the inability of the Nigerian team to make its numbers count in those two matches were largely due to dearth of tactical inputs that would have led the team to resounding victory on those two occasions.
There were other allegations bordering on Keshi’s team selection and other sundry actions and inactions taken by the technical crew, including the team’s performance during the Confederations Cup in Brazil, last year.
Why is it that foreign assistants are only needed in the coaching front and not in the administrative sphere? Is the NFF claiming that they are performing their duties in the best possible way and moving Nigerian sports forward? The evidence in the public domain, as well as the views of concerned Nigerians is that sports administrators are not doing enough to move our sports to greater heights.
If one is to chronicle the numerous shortcomings of sports administrators in Nigeria, this write-up will be hugely inadequate. It should be noted that some of the actions of these acclaimed all-knowing eggheads of sports in Nigeria, clearly expose them as extremely inefficient, bereft of progressive ideas, highly unappreciative of Nigerian talent, extremely shortsighted and downright selfish.
The NFF has been always finding ways to put the proverbial spanner in the works of the current coach. This was clearly shown during the 2013 African Cup of Nations. These self-professed administrators of our football should try, through their actions, to clear the impression by Nigerians, who view them to be working more often than not, at cross purposes with the development ideals that would catapult the game to dizzying heights.
While not saying that these administrators should not make constructive criticisms, they should be careful, lest our treasure be snatched by those who value it more than we do.
That Keshi is a shrewd tactician is beyond perhaps, the earlier our football administrators give him his due regards, the better for us all. His performance at CAN 2013, where he showed tactical savvy to take Ivory Coast, with their coterie of global stars, and Mali to the cleaners, and won the competition should be brought to the fore. Even his performance during CHAN 2014 after the opening loss to Mali is also commendable.
The uncommon spirit and determination instilled in his wards at half time when they were being pummeled by the Moroccans is also worthy of mention.
It is an insult to insist that Africa’s current best tactician does not know his onions when he said he has no need of a foreign assistant.
When Keshi was owed his dues for upwards of seven months, did Nigerians request for a foreign administrator to take their jobs from them, even when it was obvious they have been found wanting in the discharge of their duties?
It is the height of extreme myopia for our football administrators to tie Keshi’s stay in the national team to Brazil 2014. We should be able to look beyond that. Such quick fire quest for results in the absence of a robust groundwork has done us greater harm than good. What prevents us from copying the model of Manchester United, who kept faith with their Manager for close to three decades and reaped bountifully? We should emulate such model of stability.
Come what may, if our football administrators make the mistake of sacking Keshi at the conclusion of the World Cup, methinks he will have more willing suitors even within a short time. As the Good Book says: A man’s gift makes room for him and brings him before great men.
We should respect the decisions of our coach and stop interfering unnecessarily.
Nehemiah Ikoba, University of Ilorin, Ilorin. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of SaharaReporters