Amaju Pinnick… And rumour of impeachment
The maxim that there is no smoke without fire may be playing out at the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Glass House in Abuja.
After the scandalous handling of the botched hiring of Frenchman, Paul Le Guen, as Technical Adviser for the Super Eagles, many Nigerian football fans called for the resignation of members of the Technical and Development Committee, headed by Chris Green. To them, the rejection of the job by Le Guen barely 24 hours after the NFF pronounced him as Eagles’ Technical Adviser was a huge embarrassment to the entire country.
The NFF, in its usual character of shifting blames to the sporting press after failing to carry out its responsibility, has since cleared the air on circumstances that led to the breakdown of talks with Le Guen regarding the job.
As some other Nigerians, a former director of the defunct National Sports Commission (NSC), Mallam Abba Yola, was furious over the handling of the issue, wondering why the NFF would announce the appointment of Le Guen as technical adviser when the football house had not concluded on terms with him.
Abba Yola, who contested against Amaju Pinnick during the last NFF board election in Warri, Delta State, was, however, of the opinion that the board executive should not be blamed for the poor handling of the Le Guen issue, but called on Chris Green, Victor Ikpeba, Christian Chukwu, Paul Bassey and other members of the Technical and Development Committee to resign honourably or be disbanded without further delay.
However, as Chris Green and his ‘misfiring’ Technical and Development Committee members continue to enjoy the ‘protection’ of the NFF, reports filtered out from the Glass House on Thursday night that the president, Amaju Pinnick, narrowly escaped being impeached by his fellow executive committee members following the scandalous handling of the botched appointment of Le Guen.
The report stated that Wednesday’s executive committee meeting in Abuja was so stormy that at the height of the disagreement, board members threatened to impeach Pinnick after they demanded to know the full details of the sponsorship deal he secured to cover the contract of a foreign coach for the Super Eagles.
According to AfricanFootball.com: “Pinnick cut a very, very pathetic picture when he was faced with impeachment as board members told him in clear terms they wanted to have all the details of the financials regarding the foreign coach the NFF plan to hire.
“He was humiliated, thoroughly humiliated. You wouldn’t believe it that he had to beg and beg they should not disgrace him and it was only after he promised to divulge all the details of the sponsorship that he was let off the hook.”
The NFF has, however, described as no more than tales by moonlight the report by the website that Pinnick came close to being impeached at the board’s meeting on Wednesday.
Chairman of the NFF Media and Publicity Committee, Hon. Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande said yesterday: “The NFF has never taken up issues with anyone or any organization for criticizing its work or disagreeing with its policies and decisions. However, outright fabrication of what someone expected or assumed to have transpired at a meeting or forum is unprofessional and condemnable.
“At no time during the meeting did any member mention the word ‘impeachment.’
“At all times, we welcome criticisms, because we don’t know it all and we have never pretended to do so.
The communiqué was clear on what matters were deliberated upon at the meeting. We had earlier explained what transpired with regards to the Paul Le Guen issue. He was recommended but we failed to agree terms; it happens every now and again all over the world. You want to employ someone but you fail to reach agreement on terms and conditions of service and the deal is off.”
Yahaya-Kwande appealed to football–loving Nigerians to exercise a little more patience for the board to hire a technical adviser for the Super Eagles.
“The Board has given the Technical and Development Committee a few more days to recommend another person who is highly–qualified and ready to live in Nigeria, and who is ready to work with our indigenous coaches to qualify the Super Eagles for the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
“On the NFF board, we take decisions together. President Pinnick is not a lone ranger. The board remains united than ever.”
The rejection of Super Eagles job by Paul Le Guen on Tuesday was not the first time Nigerian football would suffer such international embarrassment in the hands of expatriate coaches.
After Brazilian coach, Jorge Pena guided the then Green Eagles to win gold medal at the Second All African Games in 1973, Nigeria suffered two humiliating defeats against Ghana and Zambia. Against the Chipolopolo of Zambia, the Eagles lost 1-5 in Lusaka, but won 3-2 in at home.
With Pena off the way, a German coach, Othman Calder was employed late in 1973 to ‘salvage’ Nigerian football. According to a book on Nigerian Football (1960-1990) written by Segun Odegbami, the German coach, Othman, screened 93 invited players and settled for 33.
But that was when he decided to demand a house, a car and N1,700 monthly salary. As the National Sports Commission (NSC), under the leadership of Isaac Akioye, was still ‘foot-dragging,’ Othman did not wait for reaction from Nigeria.
Unlike Le Guen, who did not bother to show up for the job, Othman actually came, but a few days later, he quietly disappeared from the country and never returned.