Nigeria’s Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi has frowned at the decision of National Team Coach, Stephen Keshi to keep the issues of his unpaid salaries from him only to reveal it in the media.
He expressed this feeling while appearing on Channels Television’s breakfast programme, ‘Sunrise’ on Thursday.
He admitted, “The issue of the coach not being paid is wrong. It is still the same issue of managing resources efficiently.”
“I have said it on different occasions that the Nigeria Football Federation after the African Cup of Nations, AFCON became really seriously financially challenged. They had difficulties, but that did not explain their not paying the coach for 6 to 7 months.”
He however said that the media buzz around the issue did not have to be so. He wondered why the situation would remain for such a long time and the appropriate authority was not aware.
“I as a minister, I got to know about coaches not being paid on the pages of the newspapers. It was only after it was reported in the papers that I called the federation, what is going on here and of course I immediately issued them a query to explain why that happened.”
He said that this was when the NFF mentioned their financial challenges as the reason behind their owing the coaches. He assured that he has since intervened and the matter is being sorted with the help of the “higher authority” since he did not have a provision for it in the budget of the National Sports Commission.
He frowned at the decision of Coach Stephen Keshi to keep quiet until the situation reached 6 months. “People are making reference to (the fact that) if he was a white man, would he have been owed 7 months? A white man will not work for 6 months without being paid; he will see it as a breach of contract and he will complain.”
“Immediately I called the coach; you’ve not been paid? And you have my number? And you didn’t tell me?”
On the suggestion that the need to avoid a national embarrassment may be the reason behind Coach Keshi’s decision not to tell the higher authorities, Abdullahi said “in the end what did we achieve? National embarrassment or not, what I’m saying is that by the time you’re not paid month 1, month 2, you have the minister’s number, there are other people, the directors of federations are there, you could call them and say look, there is a problem.”