THE dust is yet to settle over the controversy generated by the recent appointment of Tom Saintfiet as the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) technical director, with the United States (U.S.)-based ex-internationals in the Diaspora faulting the action.
In separate statements made available to The Guardian and signed by Christian Nwokocha and Andrew Atuegbu on behalf of the body, the former footballers described NFF’s action as being against the wish of most Nigerians.
Nwokocha said: “I am very concerned about the serious possibility that the Nigerian Football Federation has not followed the permissible provisions of the NFF in hiring a foreigner for the most sensitive position in Nigerian football administration.
“Where in the world would you see the technical department of any nation’s football association being administered by a non-citizen of that nation? In U.S., Germany, Brazil, England and Belgium, technical departments are all managed by their blood citizens.
“Nigeria is a sovereign state, therefore, a Nigerian would be most appropriate to hold the position of technical director and not a non-citizen. I am totally in support of Adokie Amiesimaka’s report on this matter because of the national security implication.”
Nwokocha urged the National Sports Commission (NSC), NFF and the Federal Republic of Nigeria to obey the law of the land by safeguarding the sovereignty of the country, since allowing the “anomaly” means that a foreigner could “run for the office of Nigerian President.”
He added: “Our objective is to protect the sovereignty of Nigeria by ensuring that a Nigerian is picked to head the department as opposed to a foreigner representing Nigeria abroad.”
For Atuegbu, the appointment of Saintfiet would on the long run be counter-productive. He said: “First and foremost, Saintfiet is not a known technocrat, his country did not qualify for the upcoming European Cup of Nations, also, Belgium has never been rated as one of the top countries in world football.
“I commend Amiesimaka for speaking up about the error of judgment by the chairman of NFF Technical Committee. The technical director’s position should have been given to a Nigerian ex-international player as a reward for representing the country in football.
“Brazil, Spain, England, Holland, Germany, to name just a few, have their former internationals running football, and as such their football programme is producing great results. There are ex-internationals in Diaspora that are qualified for the position. Hiring Saintfiet is a waste and an affront to Nigerian former international players.”
Other members of the association as listed in the petition include Nathaniel Ogedegbe, Paul Okoku, Francis Moniedafe, Emeka James, Fatai Atere, Femi Olukanni, Segun Olukanni, Amaechi Nwogu, Taju Disu and Dehinde Akinlotan.
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