After refusing to appear before the Nigeria Football Federation's (NFF) disciplinary committee about "uncomplimentary remarks" credited to him regarding security in Kaduna during the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Chad, Super Eagles Goalkeeper and Captain, Vincent Enyeama stands to face a ban by the NFF in what I consider a classic case of using a sledge hammer to kill a fly.
Vincent Enyeama has been known to be a very level-headed and dedicated player for about 14 years now. Upon realizing the possible impact of his remarks, he immediately apologised to the Governor, the people of Kaduna and the NFF over his utterances, as advised. But despite this apology, the NFF went ahead to query him, most probably to uphold the infamous Code of Conduct it recently imposed on the players and officials.
In the course of playing outside the country, the players are exposed to better organization and so find it discomforting when they have to face substandard (and sometimes life and career-threatening) arrangements due to the insensibilities and ineptitude of the country's football bureaucracy. So as a family man and captain of the team, was Enyeama wrong to voice his concern about his safety and that of the players? Can any reasonable person blame Enyeama for making those comments when his fears were confirmed by the near-vandalization of the broadcast equipment at the end of the match, which took the efforts of Mobile Policemen to quell? When last did the football authorities who are asking for Enyeama’s neck, inquire after the welfare of the families the late Samuel Okwaraji and late Amir Angwe left behind?
So because the Kaduna state Governor expressed displeasure over Enyeama's comment, the NFF wants to offer Enyeama the sacrificial lamb for their constant politicizing match venues to the detriment of the team and sometimes results? What message is the NFF trying to pass on exactly; that these professional players and officials do not deserve favourable conditions of service to fatherland? That these professional players and officials cannot have a say as regards their own safety? That they have the right to risk the lives and legs of these players in its selfish bid to “save money” (that they will not return to government coffers)? Does the overbearing attitude of NFF towards players and official serve to motivate upcoming players?
It may have the official capacity to, but does the NFF have the moral standing to sanction players over such issues as these when it cannot answer daily queries from the millions of tax-paying Nigerians about its unaccountability and inefficiency? The mere tone of those canvassing for Enyeama to be “called to order” (like former international Garba Lawal) for such a trivial issue, smells of bad blood; meaning there is a lot more to this issue than the public is being told.
The reality is that irrespective of what punitive measures the NFF hands down to him, Vincent Enyeama has paid his dues for the country and clearly has nothing to lose! He is on the verge of retirement after an accomplished international career. He will go down in history as a national hero – as the best goalkeeper on the continent and the best this country has ever produced, and as the country’s most capped player (for another few decades, at the least).