By ADEGBENRO ADEBANJO
The war in Nigerian house of football is coming at the wrong time. At a time the only thing, possibly, going for the country is football, the managers of the game have chosen to engage in an internecine war that can only put the game into disrepute, cripple its growth and invite the wrath and hammer of the Federation of International Football Association, FIFA. Of course the warmongers in the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, know that they are toying with the future of the game and they have refused to listen to voices of reason just because they have a lot of personal gains to reap from the messy situation.
Of course there cannot be a fight over nothing and in this case something is at stake. However forget the different reasons being adduced for the needless war by both the anti- and pro-establishment members of the football house of commotion. This war is not about the propriety of the removal of Aminu Maigari or the ascension of Chris Giwa or the ambivalence of sports minister Tammy Danagogo. There is nothing altruistic in the war going on. This has nothing to do with the growth of the game.
The main reason behind the altercation in the glass house is filthy lucre. Don’t get me wrong. Ambition in itself is not wrong but when it is pursued at the detriment of the common good then it is to be condemned. The country’s most loved game that engenders cohesion in our fragmented land is bleeding and the men in the glass house are dancing on the precipice.
Football is no longer the past time of the very young or a game played just for the fun of it. It is big business and there is big money to be made. It has also become a means of empowerment that has thrown gifted players from backwater streets of the country to the pinnacle of fame. Some of them have become millionaires and people who are contributing to the growth of their society. Nwankwo Kanu, Austin J.J. Okocha, Mutiu Adepoju, Daniel Amokachi are good examples of young Nigerians who have used football to climb up the social ladder. Apparently some persons want to put the future of the game, the happiness of Nigerians and the good prospects it holds for a lot of youngsters in jeopardy, all for their selfish reasons.
A number of persons who by accident found themselves as administrators of the game without having contributed anything meaningful to its growth just feel that Maigari has had enough of the limelight and the perquisites of the office. But they are going about the coup in a crude manner. Because their intention is ignoble they have been careless and have been making too many mistakes. They did not study the script of those who removed Maigari’s predecessors. At least when Kodjo Williams was removed there was a lot of hue and cry but the plotters did their homework and we did not get into any mess.
While the war continues, the tolls are mounting and already we can count some casualties. The national league is in coma and worst still preparations for key competitions will also be affected and the hammer of FIFA may yet again come down heavily on Nigeria. Indeed but for a stroke of luck and some last minute permutations Nigeria would have missed out of the recently concluded Under-20 Women World Cup in Canada where the Falconets shone brilliantly losing by a single goal in the pulsating final against Germany. That competition threw up Asisat Oshoala who won the Golden Boot as well as the Most Valuable Player title. Just imagine for a moment that FIFA did not reverse the ban on the country and the Falconets did not participate in the competition. The country would have been denied the opportunity of having something positive to talk about and celebrate in this season of gloom when all the news from Nigeria relates to the murderous and barbaric brigandage of Boko Haram.
More importantly Oshoala would not have been given the opportunity to play herself into the big league. Who knows she may be the best thing to happen to female football in the coming years. What is certain is that wherever the story of the 2014 edition of Under-20 Female World Cup is told, Oshoala’s exploits would loom large and the name of Nigeria will be associated with her success.
Therefore, if the warmongers do not sheathe their swords, the country may not get the opportunity to showcase its abundant talents at the world stage. Nigerians who see in the game a unifying force and a soothing balm would have nothing to cheer. Now is the time for the Pro-Maigari and Pro-Giwa groups to halt this descent into the abyss if truly they are interested in the growth and good of the game. And for Danagogo, it is time for him to assume the role of the unbiased umpire by playing the role of a statesman in his interventions in the crisis. He should not align with any of the parties; he should stay above the fray and ensure that this needless war is halted forthwith.
This game that is followed with passion in Nigeria needs a breath of fresh air.
Adebanjo, former sports editor of TELL magazine, sent this piece via [email protected]Follow Us on Social Media