The email from the NFF communications department to sports journalists on Friday, 20th December 2019 titled “Ex Internationals berate Taribo over ‘sinking’ comments “, plumbed the depths.
It was cowardly, infantile and downright ridiculous.
In the mail, NFF official spokesman, Demola Olajire, claimed two former Nigeria internationals, Patrick Pascal and Chikelue Iloenyosi, in response to uncomplimentary comments about the current state of Nigerian football credited to another ex-international Taribo West, disagreed with their former colleague in rather strong and derogatory terms.
It so happens that both former players hold official positions in the current NFF set up – Pascal is the Super Eagles team coordinator, while Iloenyosi is a Special Assistant to President Amaju Pinnick.
Rather curious and convenient.
Iloenyosi has reportedly come out to deny the story which to me is not surprising. Even if the story is true in its entirety and both men indeed said what was written, the NFF still needed to be a bit more tacit and restrained in their response.
The sort of base, gutter language that spews out of the official communication channel of the NFF, mostly in reaction to criticisms, is unfortunate and quite frankly irresponsible.
The often scathing and abusive response to individuals who give their honest opinion on issues relating to Nigerian football is totally unprofessional and unnecessary.
Taribo West gave his opinion on the state of the game in the country. You may agree or disagree with him, but that is the way he sees it. As an ex international, he has acquired the status and earned the right to speak his mind
Response to criticisms should be measured, detailed and address real issues by coming up with a superior argument to debunk any negative claims without resort to insults.
When you get unduly sensitive and defensive, it is most likely the critic has hit a raw nerve.
There was also no need for the NFF to hide behind the comments of Pascal and Iloenyosi to hit back at Taribo. It was cowardly.
Address the issues raised pointedly and head on and accept the fact that there will ALWAYS be critics.
Some fair, some unfair. But it comes with the territory. Like the saying goes, ‘If you can’t take the heat, stay away from the kitchen’!
It is rather unfortunate that in these climes, criticisms are often viewed as a declaration of war and critics become enemies of the establishment.
For any organisation to grow, negative comments are taken on board, assessed on their merit and dealt with accordingly. There are usually two outcomes. Dismiss the frivolous criticisms and deal with the salient ones.
Far too often what we have here are officials who act like they can do no wrong, never own up to errors or mistakes and are always justifying their actions or poor performances even when all indices point to the contrary.
They always tell us everything is picture perfect and all naysayers are haters who are jealous of them, or their perceived achievements.
In all of these, the sad aspect for me are colleagues in the media who have shamelessly dropped all nuances of journalistic objectivity, openly and vigorously defending the indefensible with all guns blazing and without a shred of restraint all for crumbs from the table.
The watchdogs have become the attack dogs. Unfortunately.
Instead of burying their heads in the sand and pretend that all is well, the NFF need to have a honest introspection about the direction Nigerian football is heading.
I have always been of the opinion that there is a lopsided concentration of efforts and resources towards the success of the Super Eagles to the detriment of other national teams.
If the body disagrees with that assertion, they should marshall their argument with facts and figures. Not a banal and immature resort to abuse and insults.
Taribo West said Nigerian football is sinking. That is what angered the NFF leading to their ill-advised response.
Truth is bitter but it remains the truth.
Please look beyond the Super Eagles and tell me what you see…
Is Taribo right or wrong?
By Deji Omotoyinbo