Sport Minister/Chairman, National Sports Commission (NSC), Bolaji Abdullahi, says there is no going back on the decision to stop the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) from engaging the services of Belgian Tom Sainfiet, as technical director of Nigerian football because the issue bothers on national security.
Abdullahi, who revealed that he has told the NFF to look inwards for qualified Nigerians to fill the position, expressed belief that the country would be the better for it if any of the nation’s experienced coaches got the job.
Speaking with journalists over the weekend at the Metropolitan Hotel, Calabar, after the Super Eagles’ 2-0 defeat of Rwanda in an Africa Nations Cup qualifier, Abdullahi said: “I have discussed this matter with the NFF and they have seen why it is impossible to hand that job to a foreigner.
“This is an issue bordering on national security and I will be failing in my duty if I allow it. Sainfiet will be working on innocent Nigerian children and it is dangerous because these are kids that can be influenced negatively. I am not saying he would harm them, but we have to be careful here.”
Asked if his decision does not amount to interfering in the job of the NFF, which FIFA frowns at, Abdullahi said that, “anybody employed by the NFF will be paid by the Federal Government and it is ridiculous to say that the government should not know how the money it gives to the federation is spent.
“It is interference when the government sacks a duly elected board of the NFF or sacks a coach for non-performance. Sacking or hiring a coach is the job of the NFF. We should clarify things here.
“Saintfiet is not being hired as a technical adviser, which is a coaching job. Rather, he will be a technical director, which means that he will develop the game from the grassroots, using Nigerian children, who can be influenced positively or negatively.
“Some of you talk of FIFA grant, but that money is only used for the development of facilities and putting some things in place. The Federal Government appropriates money to the NFF for its programmes. As I said, the NFF has seen reason with me and the issue is closed.”