Senate President, David Mark
*Senate hails Eagles, passes vote of confidence on Keshi
By Omololu Ogunmade
Senate President, David Mark, has attributed unnecessary interference in the job of the head coach of the Super Eagles as the reason why Stephen Keshi resigned from the post on Monday, 24 hours after leading Nigeria to win her third Africa Cup of Nations title.
Mark who spoke with Keshi on the telephone admitted that the Eagles coach told him that he was being compelled by the football authorities to accept the coming of a foreign technical adviser into the team's management.
The senate president who made this disclosure during the plenary session of the Senate, said the coming of technical advisers would not be necessary since Nigerians were happy working with the ex-international.
While advising the Ministry of Sport and the Nigeria Football Federation to give Keshi a free hand to do his job, said that Keshi would retain his job provided no foreign technical adviser would be foisted on him.
“There was a lot of pressure on him that he must accept a foreign technical adviser but Keshi was opposed to the idea because he believes that there are Nigerians who can effectively work with him to get the desired results.
"He however said he was sorry that he had to put in his resignation but I think he is prepared to rescind it provided we don’t force foreign Technical Adviser on him and I think once we give him the team to manage, we should give him a free hand to do his job.
"Whatever way he goes to get the result should not be our problems because once we begin to meddle in the way he is going to run and manage the team, it will send a wrong signal. So, the Sport Ministry should allow him to bring results without interference," Mark said.
The Senate President who led Nigeria’s delegation to the final game in Johannesburg on behalf of President Goodluck Jonathan who was unavoidably absent, said he was shocked to see that the disposition of many other countries to Nigeria during the match on Sunday was negative.
He added that apart from Nigerians who were supporting the Eagles, nearly all the foreigners at the Soccer City wanted Burkina Faso to defeat Nigeria.
He tasked Nigerians to learn to believe in themselves adding that if Nigeria is the giant of Africa, it should reflect in development and every sphere of life.
Mark also hailed the victory of Super Eagles at the 2013 AFCON tournament and called on the Federal Government to adequately reward the team for doing the nation proud.
After the motion which was moved by Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu, and supported by 107 other, the senators gave a standing ovation to the Eagles and passed a vote of confidence on Keshi and his technical crew.
They also congratulated President Jonathan on the achievement and urged Keshi to rescind his resignation.
In his contributions to the debate, Senator Ganiyu Solomon (Lagos Central), said Nigerians should re-intensify the commitment to sport and not leave it only to government.
He called for a return to the grassroots to get fresh talents.
Also speaking, Senator Abdul Ningi (Bauchi Central), said as a Nigerian, he had never felt so proud as he did on the victory last Sunday.
He commended the high spirit of patriotism among the players, saying it is an opportunity to tell the government that issues of religion and ethnicity were secondary to Nigerians.
In the same vein, the Leader of the Senate, Senator Ndoma-Egba, said: “The lesson is that with determination, we can rise again. It is also a lesson that with the Nigerian spirit, these same Eagles were four goals down in a match and came back to equalise in Damman, Saudi Arabia in 1989 to win the match. The lesson here is that there might be merit in local content. It is a lesson that we Nigerians can do it and do it very well. That is the least that we can do for our local talents. We must seize the moment and translate this victory to other aspects of our nation. It must ginger us to find victory over poverty. Victor Moses has become a metaphor for patriotism. The story of Victor is a lesson to us the politicians,” he said.
Keshi who shook the nation with the news of his resignation on Monday rescinded his decision to quit as Nigeria coach Tuesday before leaving Johannesburg for Abuja.
In a statement signed by the coach and made available to sports writers early hours of Tuesday by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Keshi said he will continue as Eagles coach after an intervention by Sports Minister, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi.
“I have had cause to express my displeasure over some issues that happened in the course of our participation in the AFCON 2013, which my team won by the grace of God, especially concerning my relationship with the Nigerian Football Federation, I have since had opportunity to discuss the various issues with all concerned. I am therefore pleased to say that I have reconsidered my position and have decided to continue with my job,” according to the statement signed by Keshi.
“I want to thank the Honourable Minister of Sports, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, for his swift and kind intervention.”
The 51-year-old Keshi, who took over as Nigeria coach in November 2011, has a four-year contract.