The House of Representatives’ Committee on Sports on Tuesday in Abuja kicked against the return of Stephen Keshi as the Super Eagles Head Coach.
Hon. Godfrey Gaiya, the committee’s Chairman, said their opposition to the development followed the perceived unfriendly relationship the coach has had with the Nigeria Football Federation in recent times.
This position has come about four days after the NFF Chairman, Amaju Pinnick, had assured Nigerians that Keshi would be handed a new contract before the end of March.
Gaiya, who spoke at the 2015 budget defence for sports, said the employment of Keshi at this moment might not augur well for the country “considering the soured employee-employer relationship.
“The body language of NFF does not seem to support the quest of Keshi to continue as the Eagles coach and we (the House Committee) don’t believe that bringing him can solve the problem of our national team.
“I have records of the utterances and condemnation of Keshi by the NFF chairman and he (Keshi) knows that when he is employed, the working relationship is going to continue to be sour.
“The average Nigerian on the street believes too that Keshi has done his best and that it’s high time for him to bow.
“You will agree with me that in the last 14 matches that Keshi was in charge as a coach, the result was that of dismal failure.
“We cannot sit here as a committee and watch the fortunes of our darling national team go down because somebody somewhere is not willing to do what is right.
“We want an NFF that is bold enough to tell Keshi to go in the interest of and for the progress of Nigeria, so as to enable the national team get another coach.”
Gaiya regretted that while many countries had sacked their coaches after failing at the 2014 World Cup and the 2015 AFCON, it was a mystery that NFF had “refused to do the needful.
“We want to give an ultimatum, because a national team is a national asset and nobody has a right to play with the interest of Nigerians, especially when it has to do with football.
“We need you (NFF) to be firm and decisive and, if you cannot do it, let us know so that we can summon all of you here and tell it to his (Keshi) face to go.
“So, if you think you are handicapped, tell me as the Chairman of the House Committee on Sports and I will summon him and tell him the decision of Nigerians: that his services are no longer required.
“If he doesn’t go, let us see how he will employ himself and how he will be paid.”
However, Seyi Akinwunmi, NFA’s First Vice-Chairman, told the Committee that the proposed contract for Keshi was to ensure that stability reigned in the Nigerian football sub-sector.
Akinwunmi said: “The issue of Keshi’s employment was part of the embroilment of the crisis in the NFF.
“So, we decided to offer him this contract, if we are not going to be deceiving ourselves.
“We considered a lot of things, which may not be for public consumption, in taking a decision to employ Keshi for Nigerian football.
“We took the decision of giving Keshi this job under certain circumstances, through the Technical Committee, after looking at several antecedents and technical issues.”
Akinwunmi noted that the contract details, which he said appeared to be what was obtainable elsewhere around the world, went through the association’s Legal Committee.