It is not clear if Keshi is still with Nigerian Football Federation or not. Some reports have it that he has resigned. Another says he has denied resigning. Whatever is the truth we need to examine the reason he is alleged to have given for resigning. Here is what I have read as his gripes:
- He has inadequate facilities for practicing. The National Stadium is full of sand and dangerous to players.
- He cannot select his assistants. He is constantly being told who to hire. He does not have a free hand in personnel matters.
- He and his staff are not paid on time. And he had had to borrow to live.
- He does not have his own quarters or a car. He has lived in a hotel for two years.
- He had only three friendly games before the WC and that was not enough.
There are other “small matters” but the four above are sufficient.
Let us examine each of the four points a little more closely.
- Inadequate facility. This can be easily verified. If you want to play in the world cup you must have a replica of world cup stadiums to practice or you will be overwhelmed by a higher level surface when you compete. If this is true, Nigeria should remedy this pronto. There should be no reason to expect world class performance from a mediocre facility.
- Free hands on personnel matters. If one is to be held accountable for the results, one should be allowed to hire the best people he could work with subject to employment guidelines. It is the best practices around the world. Football is a team sport and it is true from the team to the staff. The boss can only work with people who understand his style. Most senior managers have their team and when you hire him/her the manager brings his team. It does not matter whether it is corporation, the presidency or a football team. Keshi ought to be given this freedom.
- Not paid on time. This is a shame. Sometimes Nigeria forces her people to be corrupt. Is it had to imagine how easy it is for a hungry man to accept a handout that would compromise his dignity? Most of the corruptions we have in Nigeria stem from inadequate compensation or delayed salary. This should be avoided at all costs.
- Provision of quarters. Habaa. The cost of housing him in a hotel for two years must exceed the cost of the best mansion in Abuja. At the average rate of $300/day (three rooms to accommodate him and his family). It is about $108,000 a year rent. Only in Nigeria would such an expense be authorized.
- Only 3 friendly games. Keshi allowed that part of the problem had to do with Euro Football League schedule. Nigeria/Keshi should review how this works elsewhere.
These problems will not go away no matter who the new coach turns out to be. They are very, very fundamental and must be addressed. The total cost of all the governors’ entourage, the ministerial delegations, the legislative delegations, the political hangers on to Brazil would be enough to remedy ALL of Keshi’s gripes.
One must say these things whether it is heard or not.
Benjamin Obiajulu Aduba