On Turning 50
I give all glory to God Almighty. It is a milestone and one must look back and reflect on how the journey has been. I am very happy about my journey, which has been mainly about football and business. I am fulfilled with the tremendous success I have achieved in both, and I pray that God will continue to guide my path so that I can accomplish even greater things in all areas. There is nothing that I have achieved of my own power, strength, wisdom or intellect. Everything has been down to God Almighty.
On Journey So Far With NFF Exco
It has been illuminating and educative. In the past six years and three months, we have all worked at not only steering the ship, but doing things differently. We have looked at the strategies, methods and processes and we have tried to make positive changes that would make things easier for those coming into the organization in the years to come. We have planned, toiled, ploughed, planted and prayed, and we still earnestly pray that all will end in praise. Nigerian football has so much potential; we believe the work we have been doing will begin to manifest very soon.
Challenges and Obstacles
There have been quite a number of challenges, odds, hurdles and obstacles. The important thing is we have remained indivisible, united and committed to the larger cause of the interest of the Nigeria game. Our focus has kept us all on the same page: Congress, the Executive Committee, Management and Staff. There have been tribulations and simulated slippery ground here and there, but we have managed to weather it all and stand tall. These trials have not been of our making, but the sincerity of our desire to improve the way things are done for the good of the game has never been in doubt.
At the beginning of November, our expectation was that by now, we would have the ticket to the AFCON 2022 stuck in our pocket. Unfortunately, it did not work out that way. Against Sierra Leone, we scored four goals in 30 minutes and everyone thought it was a done deal.
It was not, and I believe that after that match and then going to Freetown to play another draw with the Leone Stars, the Super Eagles have learnt a big lesson.
Every game deserves not only your best output, but your best output throughout and until the referee’s final whistle. We have had a few conversations with the players and technical crew since then and I am confident this kind of complacency will not rear its head again. Having said that, I believe that we still have the ticket in our hands. We are still top of the group and all we need do is go to Cotonou to pick up three points against the Squirrels in March.
FIFA World Cup 2022
The lessons we learnt against Sierra Leone came at the right time, and will stand us in good stead in the World Cup qualifying series. If we had thrashed the Leone Stars, there would have been the temptation to take Liberia, Cape Verde and Central Africa Republic for granted in the World Cup qualifiers. Now, we know we cannot do anything like that. Every game, from the first one, must be approached with the best legs, mind and best attitude. Each of the six qualifying matches will be war and the knock-out games will be greater war.
Below-par Outing Of Nigerian Clubs In The Continent
I am very disappointed. In as much as we can point to the fact that the League has not started, there is something called the ‘Nigeria spirit’ and we expect teams flying Nigeria’s colours to have that in them. I am at a loss as to how Kano Pillars could be playing away from home, and they led their hosts, only to collapse to a 3-1 defeat. Nigerian teams should be made of sterner stuff. I commend Enyimba FC that won away against their opponents in Ouqgadougou; that is the way to do it. My challenge to the other clubs is to turn things around in the return legs and qualify for the next rounds of the CAF Champions League and CAF Confederation Cup competitions.
Strengthening The Domestic League
This is something we talk about among ourselves everyday. I mean, myself and colleagues on the NFF Board talk and toil on this but hurdles always come up. I believe we are getting out of the morass and there is light at the end of the tunnel that we can even see. Our prayer is that everything holds firm and we get things going smoothly as planned. The importance of the league being virile and attractive is not lost on any of us.
Vision for the Nigeria Game
Our vision remains building a sustainable football culture for our dear country. It is non-negotiable. We also are determined to improve football infrastructure and facilities both at national and regional levels, as can be seen in our passionate drive for FIFA projects across the country. We are equally committed to training and re-training, and enabling greater mass participation in the game of football, which is the single biggest unifier of all our peoples across several mental and physical divides, and also serves as robust lure for boys and girls away from all manner of social vices, not to talk of the international image-building component. We are also extremely passionate about developing the game at the grassroots.
FIFA Council Aspiration
I have consulted wide and this is the route I feel comfortable to take for now. Membership of the FIFA Council also confers a lot of responsibility on one and you have the opportunity to make crucial contributions to the running of world football. Things may change in a couple of years, but for now, I am going for the FIFA Council based on the consultations I have had and the plan that is on ground. For the CAF Presidency, we are supporting the aspiration of Dr Patrice Motsepe of South Africa. We believe he has the clout, means and organizational savvy to take CAF from its present low level to a place of regard and respect among the six confederations of FIFA.
NFF Presidency Third Term?
No way! I made my decision even before earning the second mandate on 20th September 2018. I will not be running for the NFF Presidency again. I want to thank the Members of the Congress, my colleagues on the Executive Committee, Management and Staff, and stakeholders of the game for their support. I will be stepping off in 2022 to give another person the opportunity to lead Nigeria Football. That is the truth.
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