NFF Is A Risk To My Life


Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, former coach of the Super Eagles told Francis Achi why he opted out of the technical committee of Nigeria Football Federation NFF

Nigerians will like to know the reason behind your sudden resignation from the Technical Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF.

Yes I have resigned from the Technical Committee of the NFF. I cannot remain in a place where my inputs, advice and knowledge are seen as not relevant to whatever decisions the people in the committee are making. I cannot continue to waste my money, energy, time and even risk my life, travelling to Abuja to meet people who do not regard my contributions. I believe my wealth of experience is of no value to the current board of the NFF.

When I gave them solution to a technical problem in our football, what they always do is the opposite. If they cannot listen to me, what is the need remaining with them? The fortunes of our football continue to decline due to the mediocrity of those administering the game.

Are you not aware of how football has gone down in Nigeria? How many Nigerians are happy with the NFF? Yet they carry on as if nothing is wrong. It is not that God does not give Nigeria good players, but the NFF does not care about programmes that will change the game for good. The NFF is wasting the God–given talents of so many footballers in Nigeria and it is very painful. If people see me on the streets, they will say Onigbinde is one of them and truly I am one of them, not knowing that I used to advise them, but they will not listen.

But you are still a member of the football family in Nigeria and Nigerians will want you to remain in the Technical Committee due to your wealth of experience in the game?

Nobody can remove me from the football family in Nigeria. I will be there till I die, but I don’t want to be a part of a corrupt system that is bent on destroying the fortunes of football in Nigeria. I cannot resign from football. If the NFF wants me to do something for them, I will gladly do it and if they feel I am not needed, so be it. I will always be a part of Nigerian football family, contributing to the development of the game in my own capacity.

How will Nigerians benefit from your knowledge after you have left the engine room of Nigerian football, which is the Technical Committee?

I’m happy that the committee is the engine room, a very sensitive part of our football. That is what I keep telling them but they will not listen. If the NFF continues to neglect the technical committee, then Nigerians should expect more misfortune in our football. I am not talking about the performance of the Nigerian teams in competitions, but strong foundation for the development of our football, which should translate into good results in tournaments.

The NFF will be employing a foreign Technical Director soon and it is expected that your inputs will be needed to put whoever is employed through Nigerian football.

A lot of Nigerians don’t know what the NFF wants to do, concerning the Technical Director. The truth is that they want me to serve under the director because they know I will not allow them to do what they intend to do.

Like what do they want you to do?

I don’t know. But I know there are hidden motives behind the the employment of foreign Technical Director.

Do you have an idea of who the NFF wants to employ.

I’m supposed to know, but to my surprise I don’t know anything about who they want to employ. How can I say to people outside that I am one of them at the committee? I will not be surprised if NFF’s choice might have studied under me or we might have shared some ideas before within FIFA. Because the people in the NFF have no regard for me, they want me to serve under such a person. It is possible that the person NFF wants to employ may be my former student.

The Super Eagles of Nigeria failed to beat Rwanda in Kigali, they played a goalless draw. What do you think?.

Is that not part of the problem someone like me wants to fix in our football? It is sad that Super Eagles played a draw. They were supposed to win the match. It is sad, because Nigeria is blessed with so many talented players all over the country. Go to the the villages, you will see raw talents playing street football. When you look at the size of Nigeria, it is shocking that this country still struggles against a team like Rwanda.

I heard the people in the NFF saying we should appreciate the draw. This shows the level of mediocrity in the administration of the game. It is high time we used players who are hungry and eager to play for Nigeria. Most of the foreign-based professionals are no longer eager to play for Nigeria. The NFF and the Eagles’ coach should do away with this set of players and concentrate only on players, whether foreign or local based, who are committed to wearing the colours of Nigeria.

I still believe that the local players can perform very well. I took an entire home-based team to the 1984 Africa Cup of Nations and Nigeria played at the final losing to Cameroon. In 2002, I took a relatively unknown players to the Korea/ Japan World Cup and we were not disgraced at the tournament. The team got a draw against England. The tournament discovered Vincent Enyeama. How old was Joseph Yobo then, who did very well at the tournament, not forgetting Femi Opabunmi.

Even Peter Odemwingie, was discovered as a local player during the preparation for the World Cup. So, the truth is that, Nigeria is blessed with talented players but lack of dynamic football administrators that will complement the talent of these players is our problem. At my age, I cannot continue to waste my energy, time and money, doing things that will not make me happy. At 74, I should be doing things that will make me happy and not to get involved in things that will get me thinking until I drop dead.

If the Technical Committee members appeal to you to continue as a member of the committee?

Let me clear this, I am not saying people should beg me to serve my country. When they wanted to employ a Technical Director, the NFF said the post would be advertised. I told them that if they even advertised the job in my room that I will not apply. I have vowed that I will never beg to apply for any football job again.

Has anybody from the NFF called the people to settle these differences amicably?

Some people said the NFF is waiting for my letter of resignation. About three or four months ago, when some papers reported that I wanted to resign, the chairman of the Technical Committee said he is expecting my letter. Is that the right statement to make on the issue? May be their plan is to frustrate me out of the NFF. I can decide not to write any resignation letter, or am I a staff of the NFF?

Many Nigerians are not happy with this development as they want peace and harmony within the football family in Nigeria.

Yes I know that many Nigerians are not happy and I also know that many of them still respect me. You heard what the Senate said about our football, that it is a place of corruption even in the selection of players. I don’t want to be associated with such negative description. This present NFF is a risk to my life, to the reputation and dignity that I have built over the years.

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