INTERVIEW: Why Jonathan has not hosted Falcons – House Committee Chair

The Chairman, House Committee on Sports, Godfrey Gaiya, has offered excuses for President Goodluck Jonathan, over his seemingly refusal to host the 2014 African Women’s Championship winner, the Super Falcons of Nigeria.

In an interview with PREMIUM TIMES, Mr. Gaiya said Nigerians should allow the president some time, because it is not too late to host the girls. He also criticised the Nigeria Football Federation for their indecision on the lingering crisis with the Stephen Keshi contract, amongst other things.

Read the Excerpts:

PT: Why is the House of Representatives quiet on President Goodluck Jonathan’s refusal to host the Super Falcons months after their victory in Namibia?

Gaiya: For me nothing is ever too late you know. In my own tradition “saying well-done to somebody can never be too late”, and then the Presidency has of recent been preoccupied with other things particularly campaigns and elections. It’s not as if Mr. President is not happy about that, Mr. President is the no 1 sports person in this country and he has always identified with sports successes even the female sports. I’m sure at the opportune time, he will give them a very large reception.

PT: At the budget defence, you asked the NFF to account for monies they got from private sector. Don’t you think it is not in your place to ask, shouldn’t your committee be focused on monies received from the government?

Gaiya: It is not interfering into private sponsorship. We are talking about the federation, and the world of football is not basically for the government alone, anywhere, it is a very big business. The government can only support what the private sector is doing. But because we are seeing the national teams as our own asset, government can’t take their hands off something that’s our national asset.

PT: Is that interference permitted in the Nigerian Law?

Gaiya: Apart from government funding, it is very important for football to generate funds for itself, because it has the capacity. I don’t see why Nigeria football can’t generate fund. The law of the land says wherever you are getting funds from, so far it is coming into the government sector, such amount must be made open for transparency and for the good governance of this country.

PT: Is the house not worried that Stephen Keshi is yet to be handed a new contract?

Gaiya: We made it very clear to the NFF, we have told them we are not comfortable. It is high time for them to be bold enough to call Keshi and tell him they don’t want to renew his contract. This foot-dragging is not to the best for this country’s football development. In other countries, shortly after the Nations Cup, they hired coaches and others have told those they want to stay, to stay. But we here are, dragging our feet simply because they don’t have the courage to tell Keshi they don’t want to renew his contract.

PT: What should then be the way forward on Keshi’s issue?

Gaiya: They should tell us as the parliamentarians to resolve the issue. They called us during the NFF presidential crisis and we settled the matter for them. We can also call the same NFF with Stephen Keshi and tell him we speak for the Nigerian people. As for me, I think it is time for Keshi to bow out and allow the Football Federation to get another Coach. If there are any outstanding regarding payments, they should clear that, they can now say we are not in a position to renew your contract. I don’t know why an NFF employee should start an NFF crises.

PT: The $9 million FIFA Grant given to the NFF seemed to be a major concern at the budget hearing, why?

Gaiya: We stepped down the budget component for the Government. I said we have not seen the component of grants from FIFA so that was why we asked them to give us how it was utilized, we have to see it and it is only when we see it in black and white then we give them update on what was submitted to the committee so far. The committee has given them up to two weeks to show us the receipt of the FIFA money and how it was spent.

PT: What are you observations and assessment of the current Chairman, Amaju Pinnick’s administration of the NFF?

Gaiya: They have just spent about six months and all of the six months, they have been trying to consolidate the seat and justify the elections. It will be rather too early to access and I think there are so many challenges.

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