NFF: Limits Of Executive Recklessness | Independent Newspapers Limited
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NFF: Limits Of Executive Recklessness

Bola Bolawole
Posted: Mar 6, 2016 at 6:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

Bola Bolawole

Not long ago, the United States’ President, Barak Obama, counselled that Nigerians should build strong institutions and not strong men. Because First World Leaders are always duplicitous on issues concerning Africa, it is natural to suspect their panaceas to our multifarious problems, especially when past prescriptions by them have exacerbated rather than ameliorated our circumstance. In a sense, strong personalities acting in the right direction are needed to tackle the gargantuan problems that confront us. Time and again, we have seen the adverse effects of weak leadership on governance. Weak leaders are often ineffective and unable to assert themselves even where they seemingly have good intentions; thereby giving rein to impunity and all manner of corrupt tendencies. The caveat, however, is that strong leaders may not necessarily translate into good leaders; we have had strong personalities who have been ruinous and banal. Strong leaders operating within weak institutions are sure recipe for disaster as they ride rough-shod over everyone and impose their whims and caprices.

Therefore, it is safer to have strong leaders and strong institutions going hand-in-hand. Our bane has been that institutions, here, have perpetually been weak – whether we have weak or strong leaders. Therefore, where we have had assertive but cantankerous leaders, they have imposed their fancies. Weak institutions are never able to restrain strong but bad leaders. Where, on the other hand, leaders are weak, weak institutions are unable to step in to fill the void. In Nigeria, executive power is the next thing to recklessness. Little wonder, then, that governors love to be addressed as “Executive Governor”. It is a warning to anyone who cares to listen that the person so addressed has “full powers” to do and undo. I dare to say that this is at the roots of the monumental corruption that threatens to torpedo the country.

Take, for instance, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), whose executive (!) President, Amaju Pinnick, was said, recently, would never again appoint an indigenous coach for the senior national team, the Super Eagles. And should Pinnick have executive powers, then that decision is final; except, of course, someone else with bigger executive power than Pinnick’s countermands the NFF boss. There is no system in place. No organisational goals and procedures. No institutional processes. No traditions and no cultures. All there is to it are the whims and idiosyncrasies of the Chief Executive. His voice is that of God. But the moment he leaves, the new man who steps in can, in just one day, reverse everything that had been done. He, too, begins to ride rough-shod as he deems fit. Is that not why we have policy summersaults; abandoned projects all over the place; moving backward and forward and wasting valuable time and scarce resources? Pinnick overshot himself, however, when he spoke with an air of finality on the suitability or otherwise of indigenous coaches for our national teams. Will he always be there as chief executive?

Assuming even that the Pinnick outburst approximates the considered opinion of the NFF, so many points stand against it. One: Times like these when the country is going through financial crisis in not opportune to engage in the money-miss-road jamboree of wasting scarce foreign exchange on foreign coaches. Two: Unemployment figures are not only staggering already, they are also climbing at an alarming rate; giving jobs Nigerians can do to foreigners is a most insensitive thing to do at this point in time. Three: Foreign coaches do not jump from the sky but are products of painstaking efforts of other countries. Going after the finished products rather than learning to produce the products confirms our mentality as insatiable consumers of imported goods as against being a producer-nation. From the importation of tooth pick, we now add the importation of football coaches! We prefer to go beg for fish to eat rather than learn to catch fish. This way, we shall never become self-sufficient in anything. Four: Oliseh was not a good pick from the word “go” and everyone familiar with the trajectory of the ex-Super Eagles captain knew where the amorous relationship between him and NFF would end right from the outset. So, the Oliseh case cannot be said to be representative of indigenous coaches. Five: Is there any indigenous coach that the NFA\NFF have not had problems with? Can we say in clear conscience that all the indigenous coaches have been bad while only the NFA\NFF have been the saints? Six: Foreign coaches that have come here have also had their own fair share of problems with NFA\NFF, with some of them even leaving in circumstances as sudden and embarrassing as Oliseh’s.

From Samson Siasia to Stephen Keshi to Sunday Oliseh and now the NFF has run cap-in-hand back to Siasia.  “But it has happened unto them according to the true proverb, “The dog is turned to his own vomit again; and the sow that was washed to her wallowing in the mire” (2 Peter 2: 22b). Time has come for NFF to engage in serious soul-searching and heed Cassius’s advice to Brutus in William Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, But in ourselves, that we are underlings”.  Need we say more?