The sports minister addressed a press conference in Abuja on Tuesday where he spoke about the problems inherent in Nigerian football and administration
The Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung, has threatened to send packing the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation over the arbitrary sacking of national team coaches for failing to win championships.
At a press conference in his office in Abuja on Tuesday, Dalung explained why he intervened to save the job of Super Eagles coach Sunday Oliseh and settled the rift over the choice of Kaduna for next month’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Egypt.
Aside his quest to end nepotism in future elections into various sports federations, he argued the authenticity of Oliseh’s rant in the YouTube Video, sadly opining that the video was manipulated when the coach has publicly apologised.
“The decision to fix matches is the direct responsibility of the NFF not on the rectangular size of my table,” Dalung told media.
“I can tell you that they have already had problems with the Kaduna venue because the coach wants Port Harcourt, while the federation was insisting on Kaduna.
“When I waded into it appealing to them, the coach told me that the team is playing against many negative things but when I asked the leadership of the federation, they started the whole story about the crisis with the coach.
“But I told them they were drifting too far into the issue of sacking the coach since I was not interested in listening to their stories.
“We should be able to build a country where we should celebrate somebody that did well and sympathize with him if he fails, encouraging him to do better. I told the federation that overconfidence ruined the team.
“I told the federation that they don’t need to sack the coach because he lost a game. They brought the issue of YouTube complaining that the man embarrassed Nigerians and must apologise.
“But I told them that they should not judge him based on the YouTube because technology is now so sophisticated that a man can be manipulated having an affair with a woman when it is not true.
“Yes, I agree that I am a novice as they claimed but I looked at that video and the way it was fluctuating convinced that there was an act of manipulation. This is my own judgment and I am free to hold this opinion.
“I told them if they have not heard from Oliseh directly concerning those things on YouTube, they have to hold on until I speak to Oliseh. When I spoke to him, he did not indicate any bitterness throughout the 16 minutes the discussion lasted. He rather pointed at issues we have to address.
“I know very well the circumstances with which he trained the players and even NFF know. I told the federation that based on the discussion, we have to look at how we can make progress out of it instead of sacking Oliseh now and bringing another person we will sack again when he loses against Egypt.
“After sacking another, we will then look at how we can sack the NFF because if we sack the coaches, we will face the people that employed them since they have also failed too. It is going to be a sack game which is what we should avoid. I told them it is natural to discipline coaches but not to sack them.”
“If I will still be here when the elections into the board of the federations will be done, I am assuring Nigerians that nobody will pick his in-law or farmers’ association chairman as a member of a board.
“Those who are contesting must show their commitment, they must show how they will guide their federation to success.
“Most of all the problems we are having in the federations are linked to this. We have federations that are existing and cannot do anything except the ministry gives them money.
“The ministry even funds the ticket for a president [of a federation] to come for meetings. At the end of the day, you will discover that the federations have been reduced to a battle ground; nothing but fighting over relevance and resources.
“A man who was a leader of a farming group in the village will now be appointed a board member in a football federation.
“Immediately he arrives on the board, he considers himself as having been appointed into a big political office where he must be paid allowances and he must be given money, he has nothing to contribute but much is going to be spent on him.
“This is the cancer, this is the zika virus that is eating into all the federations and is responsible for all these problems. We must build a sport architecture that only those who have interest can come on as board members,” he concluded.
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