Retired Nigerian referee, Barrister Jude-Benjamin Chukwudi Obikwelu (JBC) has opposed the clamour for ex-Super Eagles players to be elected to run the NFF Presidency.
Obikwelu, also a two-time former Vice Chairman of Anambra State Football Association under Chief Mike Umeh and Senator Ifeanyi Ubah, told Completesports.com in an exclusive interview that being a good footballer in one’s playing career does not always translate to being a sound football administrator.
Obikwelu posits former Super Eagles players should be considered for the national teams coaching jobs where they have better flair, insisting that it takes a lot more to run the NFF.
“There’s a world of gap between playing football and administering football”, Obikwelu told Completesports.com in Awka.
“Playing football and administering football are completely two different things. You can be a fantastic player in your playing days, but turns out to be a bad coach.
“Most global top class coaches may not have been Star players in their playing days.
“Most of them (good coaches) even stopped playing at intermediate level.
“It’s just like lecturers. Most First Class students don’t make First Class Lecturers.
“Managing Nigerian Football in the capacity of NFF President requires much because you are going to interface with FIFA, CAF and other global, continental and sub continental bodies.
“You’re also going to interface with government, sponsors and the like.
“Don’t forget that as NFF President, you are saddled with the responsibility of administering all the national teams; Super Eagles, U23 Eagles, Flying Eagles, U17 Golden Eaglets, Super Falcons, Flamingoes, as well as all the Nigerian leagues; NPFL, NWFL, etc.
So, it requires lots of integrity, capacity, capability and administrative acumen.
“But if it is managing (coaching) the national team, you can say, yes, the ex players can come in but then, like I said earlier, it’s not cast in stone”.
The NFF Elective Congress is expected to hold in September, moreso with the court injunction set to be vacated by the aggrieved stakeholders.
The likes of Amanze Uchegbulem, Chief Fan (Ezinwa Mbaise) Ndubuoke, Christian Emeruwa, Ben Akwuegbu, Jonathan Akpoborie and Idah Peterside have expressed interet in the race to succeed Amaju Melvin-Pinnick as NFF President.
Obikwelu says he has personally paid his dues in the game and now wants serve in the capacity of the NFF Board member.
He believes that Amanze Uchegbulem is the right man for the NFF top job.
“Amanze Uchegbulem is a good and sound football administrator. He’s highly experienced, as former Vice President of the NFF and I believe he has the capacity and acumen to take Nigeria to the next level,” Obikwelu remarked.
“As for me, yes, I’m interested in the NFF elections, but as a Board member.
“There’s time for everything. I was the Anambra State FA Vice Chairman during Mike Umeh’s regime.
“I was also Vice Chairman during the Senator Ifeanyi Ubah’s tenure as Anambra FA Chairman.
“During those periods, especially during Senator Ifeanyi Ubah’s tenure, I was more like a ‘defacto chairman’ because I acted as chairman in most cases because the chairman was not always around.
“So, I’ve paid my dues and believe I need to make a step up with NFF Board membership”, JBC posited.
Obikwelu also reflects on the fact that Anambra State Football Association is without a substantive chairman and posits that the board led by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah would soon be reinstated by FIFA.
“You’re aware that the last NFF election was inconclusive. The FA has been without a substantive chairman.
“And I’m optimistic that our board [led by Senator Ifeanyi Ubah] will come back.
“We are waiting on FIFA to deliver their ruling on the matter because we petitioned them (FIFA)”, he said.
Obikwelu regrets the reality that Nigeria would be missing when the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup finals gets underway in November, and blames the NFF for that.
“It’s unfortunate, sad and painful that Nigeria would not be part of the Qatar 2022 World Cup finals adjudged by many as one of the best in recent times”, Obikwelu lamented..
“It’s even pathetic and worrisome given the fact that we lost the ticket right here on our own soil.
“What justifiable reason does the NFF have to relieved Gernot Rohr of his Super Eagles job at that time.
“Rohr had been with the team and just a single but crucial game to seal a World Cup ticket, he was asked to leave.
“After his exit, we expected a better coach but what did wee see, a certain indigenous coach and at the end of the day, Super Eagles lost the opportunity of featuring in the 2022 FIFA World Cup finals in Qatar”.