by Dare Lawal
Super Eagles coach Stephen Keshi has been sacked by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) following some unconvincing displays by the national male football team. The coach led Nigeria to victory yesterday against Sudan in Abuja but after last week’s loss away to the same team, it was obvious that it was only a matter of time before he gets the boot.
Keshi has taken the fall for the string of poor displays by the African champions but Gov Babatunde Fashola did not see it that way on Tuesday when he spoke at the Leadership newspaper annual conference and award event in Abuja.
To Fashola, who is a football fan, the problem began when Pres. Goodluck Jonathan sacked Bolaji Abdullahi, the former sports minister during whose tenure the Super Eagles won the Nations Cup.
You can read the entire Fashola speech here, but we have reproduced excerpts of the few paragraphs where he took a swipe at the Transformation Ambassadors of Nigeria (TAN) and linked the Super Eagles poor form to the president’s action.
“… yet some Nigerians, who claim they are more patriotic than us, say that they are Ambassadors of this transformation and that we are wrong because all is well.
Really is all well? When last did Sudan, a nation that has been caught in civil strife, go to the Nations Cup, not to talk of defeating Nigeria?
I know that they won the Nations Cup in 1970 when they hosted it. But I cannot remember when last Nigeria lost a match to Sudan. But it happened on Saturday.
In our group with Congo and South Africa, we are the only nation that has not defeated Sudan. They lost by 3-0 to South Africa, and by 2-0 to Congo. FIFA has threatened to ban us, given us ultimata more times in a year.
This is happening when we are defending champions.
But how did we consolidate our success as African champions? We removed a young minister who was rebuilding our sports and connecting with his generation. His offence? He did not attend a political rally.
How consistent is this action with the transformational agenda to empower the young people of this country?
Again you will see inconsistency; words leading in the opposite direction of action.
Bolaji Abdullahi, the former minister of sports, who Fashola referred to in the speech was sacked by the president in March 2014. Abdullahi seemed to be too loyal to former Kwara governor, Bukola Saraki, who nominated him for the position in the first place, but who had at the time decamped to the opposition APC. Abdullahi has now moved to the APC as well.
So what do you think about Fashola’s claim?