Buhari, NFF must not joke with Nigeria’s 2018 World Cup ticket — Oduah

By Daily Sports on January 23, 2017

Prince Isidore Oduah is a veteran sports administrator of high repute. In short, he is a living legend who has the single honour of being on the board of many sports federations over time.

He was one of NFA board members that pioneered Nigeria’s first ever football laurel at the African level in 1980 when the Green Eagles won the AFCON as host in Lagos with an emphatic 3-0 against Algeria. He was on the board of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria when the country wept through at the Canada 1995 Commonwealth Games and so forth.

He is the first non-South Westerner to serve in the board of the Lagos State Divisional Football Association when late AIG Ali Idowu was its chairman. He is knowledgeable and so at home while responding to questions on the round leather game.

He, as usual, did not disappoint. Oduah was at his best from his country home in Ogbaru, Anambra State when this depth, revealing and frank interview was conducted via telephone conversation. Our Managing Editor, VICTOR ENYINNAYA recorded the proceedings:


Daily Sports: How and what level do you expect our football to be this 2017?

PRINCE ODUAH: Let me use this forum to say Happy New Year to all lovers of the round leather game and numerous readers of this newspaper. Yes, this is rule to measure question. With every sense of responsibility, football this 2017 should be reborn. As such be likened to and also seen as a newly born child generally associated with his neatness nature as cleansed by his mother with great future radiating all over him.

As we are all aware, new born child is jealously guided by the mother, covered, fed, nurtured and ensure all other necessary steps are taken for the love of the child. Why is it that a new born child and mother are used for illustration here? It is to vividly capture the affinity between them from the cradle to adulthood. That is how football should be this year and beyond.

It is obvious that the parents ably prepared and stood by the child at every given time to ensure their child would be given much deserved assistance and moral teachings to grow well in line with all the tenets of life and then face the future squarely, victory comes via hard work, the victory of a child is full honour to his parents. Therefore, this is a message from me to football administrators, bottom line is they must get it right now, wake up from their deep heavy snoring slumber and reflect soberly on the steady decline and then be alive to their primary responsibilities to give Nigerian football and her teeming fans what is expected. The game needs to bounce resoundingly, take her rightful position without any hindrance.

Sadly, present day administrators are far from the above. They lost the sense of responsibility, patriotism, accountability and transparency hence football cum other sports are in comma today in the country.

The syndrome of what the stomach would eat and no probity from government contributed immensely to make nonsense of the whole thing and gave the country out to international community as a bunch of corrupt people without heart and soul, no acumen to manage her huge natural, human and financial resources.

At this juncture, what it implies is the government of the day must bring all wrong doings highlighted by FIFA and sundry to public scrutiny if only to restore confidence of would be investors, fans and sundry in the sector because NFF leadership recently came up in defence of her spending spree, instantly, FIFA put a lie to it and even announced the withholding of $1.5million annual grant accrue to it. There must be sincerity in planning, prudent spending and execution otherwise football would continue to be in this vicious circle. Impunity must stop, period.

We have heard of this kind of holistic and harmless suggestions before, yet, administrators kept adamant. Why?

Yes, we will keep saying. Let them continue to be adamant to warnings. Time is fast running out because Nigerians have come to know their fraudulent ways of spending government and FIFA funds meant for upgrading of stadia and infrastructure, development of the game, players, training and retraining of technical and backroom staff to make them fully compliant with the modern dictates of the game. I foresee a situation where fans would demand these things by themselves if the government continues being an on looker.

It is common knowledge that dishonesty became the lot of the administrators, thereby killing the sport installmentally often bringing the game to disrepute. It is common during NFF election; multi millions are used to bribe congress delegates. This new corruption trend which crept into the game made it possible for square pegs to assume sensitive positions in the FA without caring a hoot what it takes to administer the game. It is the beginning of the rot in the body today. They resort to trial and error which is a crude method of administration that kept football on the snail speed today in the country.

We all knew how Amaju Pinnick came. We knew he has no track record of administering the sport than the media hype of ‘marvelous’ performance in Delta State, which has proved to be a pure fluke. Sports have totally collapsed in that state because he lived the life of a pretender building on sandy soil. He deliberately handed over a very sick FA to Austin Okocha and the spillover of his amateurish tendencies have almost snuffed life off football at the national level, crisis upon crisis among the national teams, sponsors staying away from the FA due to unprecedented massive corrupt practices and uncoordinated decision not conducive for peaceful atmosphere for investment.

The only way forward is reorientation among genuine stakeholders to fashion out lasting solution to stop the obvious dishonest persons from either heading or becoming executive committee members, we are witnesses to what is going on today in our football. Once beaten, twice shy. The game is crippled, make no mistake about it. FA which solely depends on individuals to foot the bill of Super Eagles technical adviser, no doubt is technically nonexistence. Amaju and his executive board are living in falsehood and deceiving Nigerians. The worst FA ever bent on killing the game rather up in arms instituting and watering corruption whose indices are all time high.

FIFA has caught the Amaju Pinnick led NFF red handed on the act severally. One is at loss why the FG maintained deaf and dumb on corruption issues in NFF that continues to earn the country much international embarrassment. The FIFA grants are for stadia development and sundry but Nigeria’s share is in private pockets and nothing is geared towards nipping it in the bud for a full stop.

What’s your take on the ongoing AFCON without Nigeria?

There is nothing more to add than the disappointment Nigerians have expressed. Nations Cup ought to be like our birth right if those in charge knew why they are there in the first place. I won’t waste my energy, your time, ink and paper deliberating over spilled milk, everything is fundamentally wrong with our football administration today.

On Russia 2018 WCQ resuming August, what is to be done to sustain our lead?

O! It is the wish of every Nigerian we qualify for the next World Cup in Russia. On my part, I hope big and believe we will be there if the NFF leadership will be on top of this present top priority to prevent what stopped us being in Gabon AFCON 2017, so that we will not have ourselves to blame again. This is the hour that calls for working round the clock and closely too with the technical committee, the team’s crew and all that are key to our Russia dream. This is a time to be proactive and plan well for consolidation. Our group opponents are in Gabon 2017 competing and tinkering how to uproot our 2018 group leadership chart. I will advise that despite being on top of the group, NFF, technical crew and technical committee have to go back to the drawing board to solidify our grip technically and tactically before the resumption, lining up quality friendly matches that would inspire confidence not the type that will demoralise the players.

Foremost, NFF must take the Sports Minister; Solomon Dalung into full confidence right from the onset for the smooth execution of the critical remaining qualifiers, we have two deadly away games against Cameroon and Algeria, which calls that there must be no quarrel at all. The Minister should be told in clearer language to stop his often chasing of shadows too. As father of all sports, he should not be seen as talking on drop of hat. The earlier the gladiators realise that players are the actors of the game and admirers called fans, have different roles to play for the smooth running of the game. The problem of short changing and relegating their efforts to the background would be half solved and we can take it from there.

I’m speaking from vantage background as a veteran administrator. I served on the board of the NFA led by late Sunday Dankaro (May his dutiful soul rest in peace) his board is adjudged all-time best ever in the country, which was the body that midwifed Nigeria’s first AFCON win in 1980, the concern of the chairman and his board centred on ensuring there was suspicion free synergy between late J.K Tandor’s led technical committee and the Eagles coaching crew, which enabled them watch all the training sessions of the team and prior to the game the technical committee held close session with the players to know their feelings on game at hand and also their wants which would motivate and inspire them to clinch victory. Two weeks to the game, the chairman will bring the key parties together for a down to earth assessment and chat aimed at fine tuning all rough edges and one important information the board would always want from the players and technical adviser would be on the state of their readiness for the battle ahead. Their winning formula would be clearly shown to the board, the technical adviser’s level of preparations for the crucial match. It worked well for us hence the board was peopled with the likes of late Sunday Dankaro, Chief Nathaniel Idowu, POC Achebe, JK Tandor, Prince Isidore Oduah, among other achievers.

Now what’s your own way forward?

Foremost, the players must be made happy by way of ensuring they are well motivated, always in great mood and once the atmosphere in camp is conducive, their spirit will be all time high. No doubt, they will give their optimum output in the given match.

I’ll continue to advocate that instead of divide and rule method that has become a norm, NFF leadership must devise most suitable and harmonious ways to engage the players constructively to harness their full potentials for Russia 2018 World Cup summit.

It won’t be out of place to suggest that increased bonuses and camp allowances in this critical stage of the qualifiers will triple their performance. The lads knew what is at stake and will go all out to consolidate their grip on the group. The ball is on NFF’s court and he who has ears must listen to wise counsel. The football body must show lots of remorse and lead by example in this last lap of their tenure by telling the boys truth and march it with action for the first time ever. NFF must be solidly and sincerely behind them and leave the rest for them to deliver.

President Muhammadu Buhari must know that this country is at the lowest ebb. Many countries even in Africa do not know Nigeria exists. The only way people in the world know we exist is through sports, especially the beautiful game, football. The belief is that Nigeria is no more. Super Eagles players are doing what the Foreign Affairs Ministry have failed to do, shoring up the nation’s image. It’s against this background that Buhari and his Ministers, must ensure that the boys are not owed their dues after each game and the backlogs must also be quickly cleared too, we must not afford another huge international embarrassment like the other time.

What’s your view on the Technical Adviser?

The Franco-German has shown some deep measure of capacity. He has fairly good idea of what it takes to handle very flamboyant and complex Nigeria team and so far, so nice. He knows where the bucket is leaking and by the time he resumes after AFCON, I believe he will block the loopholes in the teething areas.

He has spoken of discovering some fantastic players who have also agreed to lace their boots for Nigeria. It is a spirit-lifting news. He informed he has penciled them down and even quoted to have added that the team’s list for the series of international friendlies lined up for the Eagles prior to August cracker against Cameroon would be ready in February. One good thing about Rohr is his composure. He also has a good sense of judgment of his opponents, the game and responsibility. If the FA did not rock the Russia 2018 boat, the technical hand and the players are ready to deliver on promise. I must also point to his confidence level as being superb. He should endeavour to work closely with the technical committee. He has to tap from them, once he maintains his present maturity, things won’t turn against him and his team. As he is working hard to fortify the team so also, his opponents are doing, however, he has some edge and that is, there’s no game he would be prosecuting under any form of pressure. Nigerians are solidly behind him and their idol team, the Super Eagles.

Thanks for your time, Sir.

You are always welcome. Daily Sports has authoritatively developed its self steadily into the frontline bracket in the new media. Keep the good work up!

•Prince Isidore Oduah.

Source Daily Sports

Posted January 23, 2017


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