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Sports Minister, NFF and Saintfeit

05 May 2012

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 Tom Saintfeit

By Tunde Sulaiman

A few days ago the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) did what they should have done initially – they officially notified the Sports Ministry of their decision to employ Tom Saintfeit as the Technical Director of Nigeria football.

This move only came after Sports Minister, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, raised eyebrows over the move by the Glass House to employ the Belgium without his knowledge.

Once again the action of the Glass House shows how little Nigerian officials learn from the lessons of history and consequently end up making what should be a very easy matter, become a big issue.

Yes we all know that FIFA frowns at government interference in the running of the beautiful game, but we all equally know that “he who pays the piper dictates the tune!”

Had it been that the NFF would have no cause to ask the Sports Ministry to fund the $20, 000 (about N3.1million) per month contract of the Belgium, then the Minister would not have had any need to raise eyebrows – after all wouldn’t have been his money.

But when you are not in a position to go ‘solo’ and still need to go and to meet him for money to execute a project then it is only logical for the person you are going to ask money from to be put in the know (even if it is for his information only).

Ironically this is not the first time such a thing will happen with the Glass House putting the cart before the horse. A number of former Sports Ministers have equally been miffed over the antics of the football body in deciding on monetary expenditure before presenting it to the supervisory ministry as a fait acompli.

The options are very clear – if you want to take actions independent of the Ministry then the NFF should be self funding. Once they are not, it will be impossible to severe the ‘umbilical cord’ tying them to the National Sports Commission.

However, I must hail the Glass House for recognising their error and trying to make amends, one only hopes it was a genuine oversight and will not become a festering wound.

Tags: Sports, Nigeria, NFF, Featured, Tom Saintfeit

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