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NFF’s sins against Nigeria

I grew up to hear of the adage, ‘Procrastination is the thief of time’. It was later I got to know it was coined by an English writer, Edward Young.

Some wise men see procrastination as ‘a sin against life itself’. Even the Holy Bible tells us in James 4:17 that “if anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them’.

That is my conclusion today about the present board of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF led by Amaju Melvin Pinnick which is expected to bow out on September 30, 2022 after two consecutive terms of eight years, the first in the history of the football house.

Why am I saying this? Just hours after the death of the Queen of England, Elizabeth II, when one was ruminating over the life and times of the longest serving monarch in British history, came the rude distraction from former Chief Coach of the Super Eagles, Gernot Rohr.

He talked about his sack, insinuating that it came at the wrong time when he had great plans for the senior men’s national football team, the Super Eagles. Really?

Just read an excerpt from his thoughts: “We were still celebrating when the news came that I have been sacked as coach. They claimed that it was an order from the top. I was in shock. This came at a time when I feel we are almost getting close to making our project for the team work”.

“The aim was winning the AFCON and we had plans for a team that would have won it and also qualified for the World Cup”.

Do you blame Rohr? Of course not. If only the NFF had acted on time, he wouldn’t be claiming that he could have taken the Super Eagles to great heights.

Rohr forgot that he was in the saddle for almost six years, the longest stint by any coach, local or foreign, to have handled the Super Eagles. He forgot that he couldn’t go beyond the semi final of the 2019 AFCON in Egypt where he lost to Algeria. He equally forgot that he lost to Argentina in the second round of the 2018 World Cup in Russia as a result of both technical deficiency and tactical blunder on his part. A match that was within his grasp to wrap up.

After the 2018 World Cup fiasco, rather than ask him to go, the NFF, for reasons known to it alone, procrastinated, not knowing whether to sack him or keep him? At the end, they extended his stay, hoping that he would correct his mistakes. Rather he committed more tactical blunders, causing Nigerians pains whenever his team played.

The first sign that Rohr was digging more holes for the team showed when the Super Eagles lost grip of a match they were leading 4-0 in Benin City and almost lost it against a fledgling Leone Stars of Sierra Leone.

The last straw however, was when the Central Africa Republic team beat the Super Eagles 2-0 at the Teslim Balogun stadium in Lagos, a pill that was too bitter for Nigerian fans to swallow.

The NFF members became jittery at this stage. What they failed to do in 2018 when they still had reasonable time to hire a good hand and allow him settle down, they hurriedly did with a couple of months left to the AFCON in Cameroon.

In the process, they forgot they signed a ‘slave’ contract with Rohr without a clause of escape for them in case they were no longer comfortable with his services.

Two grave sins the NFF board committed which they are passing to Nigerians are, first, their procrastination over Rohr left the team without a solid technical crew, resulting in the crash at the 2021 AFCON held early this year and the non qualification for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

The second sin is the humongous amount they are to pay for breaching the contract they had with him. Months after the verdict by FIFA that they should pay him, the NFF has kept mum on the issue. Ostensibly, the outgoing board want to pass the burden to the incoming administration.

If Rohr had been disengaged in 2018 after his contract expired, the contract breach they are made to pay for now would have been avoided. Again if they had left him to finish his job and not hastily sacked him very late when they did, he won’t be boasting today that he could have won the 2021 AFCON and qualified Nigeria for the 2022 World Cup.

Rohr’s case could have turned out exactly the same way President Muhammadu Buhari’s case is today.

In years to come, nobody, not even Buhari himself, will stand up to say that he could have turned Nigeria into the leading economy of the world if he was allowed to rule. He got the nod and didn’t do much from what all his predecessors did.

So it is clear that if the NFF had been alive to their duties and sacked Rohr at the right time, football could have been saved the stress it is passing through today.

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