Abuja, - A former House of Representatives member, Hon. Lumumba Adeh, says sustaining Nigeria’s upward movement in world football depended largely on how the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) manages recent successes.
He told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Abuja that NFA needed to be able to stand firm on issues particularly related to the Super Eagles.
Adeh listed the issues to include those of appointing a Technical Director as well as NFA’s relationship with Eagles’ head coach Stephen Keshi.
"Now, we can say that we are gradually getting there and that puts us in a good position to now aspire to out-do Egypt, Cameroon and Ghana and take our rightful place in African football.
"But the issue now is that we should be able to manage the present success, and fears will be whether our football managers can really sustain the pace,’’ he said.
Adeh noted that it was natural for fears to be entertained about whether the NFA could manage the success as the AFCON victory was not a result of its managerial acumen.
"I think it was through God’s intervention. Clearly, there was the hand of God in the entire arrangement. First, from the fixtures, and then down to the eventual progress of the team to the quarter-finals
"If one looks at our preparations and programmes, you will agree with me that it was not as a result of any deliberate planning or organisation that we got where we are now.
"I remember Keshi saying he needed time to take them where they are going,’’ the proprietor of JC Raiders of Jos said.
Adeh noted that, as an outcome of the AFCON 2013 victory, a lot of issues and controversies have arisen in relation to certain events or incidences during and after the tournament.
"If not properly managed, I am afraid, it is going to affect whatever gains Nigeria has made as a result of this victory.
"I was not in South Africa to know exactly what happened, but the steps the NFA were accused of having taken in the course of the competition, particularly in the preliminary round, may not have been right.
"It may for now be a normal way of making a coach sit up. But I want to take us back to the fact that this has been the style and character of the NFA and Nigerians have always been falling for it.
"We have always said it in times past that it is not at every outing that a national team or any club goes for that the coach gets sacked after a failure to win.
"But a coach that goes there and failed should be assessed to determine the kind of failure. If you allow him to remain in the system, it adds value to the system for subsequent benefits,’’ he said.
The former Vice-Chairman of the 2005 Interim Management Committee of the then Nigeria Football League (NFL) said the NFA was in the habit of diverting attention.
"The NFA has always been misleading football followers to believe that every failure is the fault of the coach and many people have never asked questions.
"After every tournament we lose or fail at, the coach gets sacked. But if in times past, you sack the coach for failure, it means credit will now go to the coach if he has victory.
"So, is it now out of place for the credit of AFCON 2013 to be given to Keshi and for the NFA to be ignored? This is because I have heard that the federation has not been happy that it has not been well recognised for this victory. But NFA caused it. If Keshi had failed, the blame would have been passed to Keshi. So, if they sack coaches when they fail, it means the entire responsibilities lie with the coach and success should also rest with him,’’ he said.
Adeh who was a former aide to former President Olusegun Obasanjo lamented the fact that there was already bad blood between NFA and Keshi over the AFCON 2013 aftermath.
"You can only pretend about it. But the question is, what will be the effects of this on the national team? One thing I can’t understand with the NFA is the lack of courage to take a position. Yes, he (Keshi) has won, but does that stop NFA if it has a programme of what it wants to be done. Does it stop the NFA from employing a foreign Technical Director? Keshi is just the coach of the Super Eagles and he can’t dictate to them how to organise their house. In fact, I feel very strongly, without any fear, that Nigeria deserves a very competent and sound Technical Director, whether a Nigerian or a foreigner. So, if the NFA had mooted the idea before and now it is now backtracking on it because Keshi has had a dialogue with the presidency, then there is a problem,’’ he said.
Adeh said NFA should be bold enough to come out and say it has an understanding of what it is doing, and desires to have a Technical Director and would go for the best.
"If there is a Nigerian that qualifies and fits into the position, that’s fine. If there is none, go and get a foreigner. The job of a Technical Director is completely different from that of a Super Eagles coach and of course, Keshi will be answerable to him. It is a structure, and Keshi is an employee of NFA and NFA is an institution,’’ he said.