The rapid response from FIFA
to the policy recommendation by the Federal
Ministry of Sports, Nigeria that the Nation’s
football team, the Super Eagles be banned has
exposed the policy decision to develop
Controversy often opens the floodgate to spikes
and arrows. With time, it all boils down to
disputations of unsavoury nature, which weakens
The faux pas clearly shows that our Sports
Minister did not, and has not acquainted himself
with the Statute governing FIFA’s intolerance of
State-member’s political interference in World
Cup competitions since 1950.
It is shocking to think that the task force
misadvised the President. The advice was not
well thought through. The caffeinated statement
to the effect that “Nigeria withdraws from
international competition for two years to
enable the country put its house in order” is
convicted of error. This raises questions of
sound judgment, logical reasoning and knowledge
of FIFA rules. It also raises doubt about 2011
and beyond, even after good elections.
In other states, the principle of Ministerial
responsibility would require that the Minister
of Sports should resign his office. He and not
the players should take responsibility for the
dismal performance of the national team. This is
why he is minister!
For a nation that will preside over the affairs
of the Security Council of the United Nations in
July 2010, this whole discussion is not very
Our President may be invited to participate in
more complex international legal problems
emanating for the application of the Charter of
the United Nations Organization and a myriad of
International Treaties and International
Conventions as President Barrack Obama had to
grapple with, when the United States of America
occupied that seat.
The International Community has their
representatives here and are meticulously
following our actions and governance style.
This is a State that remained without a
President for over ninety days, allowing its
affairs to be dribbled by a bunch of
unintelligent but greedy officials and their
This is a state that is yet to shed ceremonials,
state visits and gaieties and social festivities
to present a blue print for post 2011
governance. This is a state in which birthday
achievers have taken over newspaper pages to
extol non-existent virtues; this is a state that
plans to spend colossal money to celebrate
failures in governance since after independence.
In 1949, the Chinese got their independence. In
1960, Nigeria became independent. While we have
been beating about the bush, the Chinese now
manufacture from pin to aeroplanes and are now
able to lend the United States of America
billions of dollars. Chinese feed over one
billion three hundred citizens with a lot of
left-overs in restaurants.
In Nigeria, how many of our citizens can afford
to regularly eat in restaurants? Look at the
texture of the skin of South Africans and that
of Nigerians. We cannot all be in government to
be financially buoyant.
I applaud Professor Tam David West, Chinua
Achebe and other self-respecting Nigerian
citizens, who regularly reject cheap national”
honours”, rejecting the thing and going on with
This is a country, where lazy folks, with poor
academic backgrounds are shamelessly awarded
Doctors of Every Discipline Honorius causa
degrees at every convocation by the mushroom
universities, now being run as business
In spite of the regulatory efforts of the
National Universities Commission, THE NIGERIAN
BIG MAN MENTALITY is a formidable factor to
Some Doctor hc recipients, fraudulently remove
the hc, not knowing that the EFCC of ICPC may
jail them for seven years for impersonation. The
movement will soon be put in motion. Dull-heads
also want to answer DOCTOR. This is Nigeria.
In any football competition, one side must win.
Simple commonsense should recognize that all
cannot win. Football is a game, played with
intelligence, great energy and at times luck
plays itself out.
A great team can lose as a result of mistakes,
inadvertences and inaccuracies, which are bound
to occur, even after two years of suspension.
Winning a football match could be a matter of
luck. The first goal in the 2010 FIFA World Cup
by the South African outside left was assisted
by the ball bouncing favourably for an instep
I do not know whether our Sports Minister was
ever a footballer. Well, I was the captain of
Christ the King School at Aba, 1954-55 and
captain of the Holy Family College team in
1959.In 1961-1962, I was in the Port-harcourt
Ports Authority team, with Mr. H.A.P Nwanna as
coach. In our team were the master dribbler
Onyeanwuna, Onyeador and others, who later
played for Nigeria in the 1960’s and 70’s. In
1969, as a doctoral candidate at the University
of Cologne, West Germany, Mr. Akin Fatoyinbo and
myself organized an African team that defeated a
Cologne team by 3-o.
Some of our African team-mates were thereafter
absorbed by Hertha Berlin, Fortuna Dusseldorf,
Hamburg and other European teams.
Later, it became fashionable to employ African
players in many European Clubs. As can seen from
the above facts, I am in a position to lecture
the Minister of Sport on football, its
uncertainties, probalities and possibilities.
The Minister failed to ensure that a competent
coach was in place early enough. He failed to
facilitate the use of our world class national
stadium, built with billions of Naira, thereby
wasting the nation’s funds. He should have asked
all the Sports Clubs to hold football matches
and from the experience, select promising young
footballers to contest for selection into the
The Minister failed to adequately respond to
complaints by the players, patriotic officials
and administrators. The audit of funds will be
very revealing! As an elementary show of
concern, the Minister should have shown concern
for the players. Some were kept in unbefitting
hotels in Abuja. The Minister should have sent
the foreign coach to go round the country in
search for talents. This, the coach could not do
in two months!
Yet, he was expected to perform magic! There
were no regular briefings on the Super Eagles
preparedness. There was a belated promise to
make money available to them. Such promises were
never kept in the past and the players know
Some issues have militated against the morale of
the national team. They have been saddled with
foreign coaches, who did not understand
Nigerians’ mentality, ethos and frame of mind.
The “presidential hand-shake only” Obasanjo
style, could not buy return tickets for the
players to get back to their European bases, nor
put food in the mouth of their wards, parents
and the extended families.
It was reported that the then Minister of
Sports, Mr. Jim Nwobodo had refused to use the
same plane that was to bring back the Super
Eagles after an overseas football match. Mr.
Daniel Omokachie told Nwobodo off.
Can anyone understand this Republic, where
nobodies, who became some bodies through, at
times, chance happenings, favouritism,
as-man-know- man, turn themselves into people,
who now pontificate inanities of inconsequential
and damaging import?
No matter how high the office people occupy, if
they are misfits their ignorance or arrogance
will bring them out. It has always been said
that when a small man is given a big job, he
will bend the job to suit his ability.
Unfortunately, there are certain jobs that
should not be left to untutored ability.
Those, who hurt their nations, are not those,
who comment objectively about their wrong
policies. It is those, who knowing that some
policies are wrong, use polemics to cover
illogicalities, which are hard to reconcile.
Other nations often use those in power, as a
yard stick to gauge the national intelligence.
A nation which regularly applies for aid from
international institutions and receives
financial support for projects, is not on solid
grounds to announce to the world that it
proposes to spend ten billion Naira on
A mathematician friend of mine told me that with
that kind of money, the killing-roads, could be
fixed, many schools and colleges, would have
been put in place.
Experience shows that such expenses are never
accounted for, are often the victims of
contract-fixing, fire brigade purchases,
concealed deals etc. The announcement points to
the fact that we have learnt nothing and
In his dismal interview with the CNN, our Sports
minister claimed falsely that “all Nigerians
want the suspension of the Super Eagles” There
was neither a referendum nor an opinion poll
assessment. So, where did the minister get his
mandate from? I am a Nigerian. I was never
consulted nor asked. I do not support the
suspension idea. It is retrogressive,
ill-conceived and cannot improve the standards
of football in Nigeria even, after two years. In
fact, things will become worse, because the
minister is not sure he will be minister after
the 2011 elections.
So, it is a speculative proposal, based on
emotions of frustration and understandable
Let us appoint a Nigerian coach, open our stadia
for us to choose football talents, look after
the Nigerian players, who play abroad and not
summon them to return a few weeks to important
This Republic deserves more and ought to be more
worthy of excellence. Our Republic needs re-organisation.
Systems of governance should be put in place,
which would regulate the political parties to
serve as constructive opposition, preparatory to
forming the government by winning credible
elections and presenting a workable agenda for
Our political, economic and legal establishments
and institutions must function under strict and
The Chinese have done very well. We visited
Shanghai and saw wonders, even Angola, which
suffered terrible interference from foreign
powers after minerals, has, under Dos Santos
used its oil wealth well.
I applaud the current drive towards
accountability and the cooperation between
Interpol and Transparency International, which
now look into money transfers that cannot be
We shall be grateful, if after the
investigations about 2010 FIFA WORLD CUP
preparations, the nation will be fully briefed.
We must exorcise the resident demons confusing
Nigerians and their leaders. JEHOVAH ADONAI will
continue to overturn, overturn and overturn.
Professor Dr. Emmanuel Omoh Esiemokhai is the
President of the proposed AFEMAI UNIVERSITY,
FUGAR, Edo State, Nigeria.