BY GODWIN AIKIGBE
The nation on Friday awoke to news of Sunday Oliseh resigning his position as Chief Coach of the Super Eagles, having send a letter to that effect to Secretary-General of the Nigeria Football Federation at about 11:30 pm on Thursday, after only seven months on the job.
This may have come as a rude shock to many, but to some others, who value integrity; it was the most honourable thing to do, due to the no- love-lost relationship that existed between him and the Chris Green-led Technical Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation.
Africans, especially Nigerians are known to hang on to positions irrespective of the level of indictment and unpopularity; the more reasons many could not see Oliseh’s resignation coming. To them, one has to be insane to walk away from a five-million-naira-per-month job.
Oliseh has shown that what obtains in other spheres can happen in Africa and I hope persons with no value to add to our sports, particularly football, toe same line, knowing no particular offices are meant for particular persons.
His action also proves timely as he would have been sacked sooner than later, with speculation rife that the NFF was already negotiating with AFCON-winning coach Havre Rennard at the time he resigned.
I was one of a few persons that expressed reservations about Oliseh being handed the reins because I didn’t see his romance with NFF heading nowhere, knowing his belief on things being done ideally with no strings attached while the football body has proved only capable of working with ‘Yes men’ they can easily hoodwink.
The constitution of the technical committee is major reason Oliseh took a walk. Things came to ahead when the amiable and proactive Felix Agwu Ayansi was replaced by Barrister Chris Green as head of the subcommittee.
Whilst Oliseh saw most members of the committee as lacking the pedigree and technically inept, the committee ostensibly upturned the apple cart by forcing its decisions down the throat of the coach, even though irrelevant to his job.
Aside from referring to certain persons insane on YouTube, another reason Oliseh fell out of favour with some Nigerians was operating from Belgium, losing sight of the fact that none of his foreign-based predecessors stayed in the country when not on assignments.
He also talked himself into the black book of the sporting press by slating a particular website that asked for monetary reward for positive publicity. He had been heavily castigated for this by almost the entire sporting media now subliminally at NFF’s beck and call.
These wildfire reactions by the media left me at sea, and still do, as none has been prosecuted for stereotypic assumptions; judges take bribes and subvert justice, Police do same, doctors carry out abortions, Students are cultists, politicians are liars and looters etc.
I am bold to say that not all sports journalists trade their integrity like the Abuja-based website. Only the guilty is afraid of accusation. It is unfortunate the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria issued the coach an ultimatum instead of condemning the website’s misdemeanor.
As always, the sporting press was once again used by some persons to unsettle Oliseh as had been done to his former Super Eagles teammates and predecessors, Samson Siasia and Stephen Keshi.
The question is when will the Nigerian sporting press learn to set agenda purposed at meaningful development of the sports sector without regard to selfish interests of sports administrators and practitioners?
Perhaps the NFF thought that Oliseh must have discarded his no-nosense approach to issues on his transition from the pitch to the bench, little do they know that the leopard never changes its spots.
A few months into the job, some officials of the football body soon realized they had steered the hornet’s nest by hiring Oliseh, whose European mentality they not only found alien, but also perturbing and suffocating. After several years of playing and attending coaching courses across Europe, Oliseh apparently forgot that it is traditional not to do things right in Nigeria.
The relationship between NFF and Oliseh had been heavily strained heading into the 2016 African Nations Championship in Rwanda and snapped over Super Eagles’ failure to progress beyond the group phase.
Apart from repeatedly using the word ‘insane’, I feel nothing else wrong with Oliseh taking to YouTube to express his disgust over the toxic critiques by some persons, who obviously were waiting to captilise on his slip.
Of a truth, CHAN is the least of tournaments organized by CAF, and I don’t see why some persons wouldn’t stop maligning Oliseh for stating the obvious. If the heavens fall because Nigeria finished as 16th best team in Rwanda, then countries that didn’t make it to the finals must be obliterated by now.
Again, that some age-grade national teams had recorded victories without allowances and salaries doesn’t make the situation ideal or engendering. Every employer of labour knows money is major motivation to employees, who cannot perform optimally in absence of it.
Oliseh had hinged Super Eagles’ failure on lack of payment of allowances and salaries and claimed to have fed his players with four thousand dollars at their Pretoria camp site. This had been corroborated by South Africa-based former Super Eagles goalkeeper Peterside Idah.
According to William Shakespeare, ‘what is done can never be undone’. Oliseh may have made some mistakes, which I hope he learns from, but that he spoke the truth and acted honourably where many would tuck their tails between their legs like a frightened dog will outlive is plausible and will outlive generations.
Oliseh has termed been callous for walking out on the team with the 2017 African Cup of Nations qualifying tie against Egypt less than a month away. In my opinion, he acted rightly, giving prevalent turbulent scenario, which provides no room for proper planning and execution of the double header.
He walks away with an impressive resume, having lost only twice in 11 matches in charge, with the team on course for both 2017 AFCON and 2018 World Cup finals. He maintained the hoopla that trailed Super Eagles’ exit from CHAN was uncalled for because he didn’t fail. Did he? No, he didn’t.
Nigerian football is the greatest beneficiary in all said and done. Oliseh’s words and actions will continue to impact positively on it for many years.