A former House of Representatives member, Honorable Godfrey Ali Gaiya, has identified poor organization, poor management and lack of motivation on the part of the players as the bane of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).
Gaiya, who was the former chairman House Committee on Sports during the 7th and 8th National Assembly, said a league cannot be referred to as being professional when it is poorly organized, poorly managed, the take home pay for the player is poor and the professionalism to drive such a league is zero.
According to the former federal lawmaker, running a ‘professional’ league in Nigeria is just to fulfil all righteousness because nothing is professional about the league. Our league is nothing to write home about when compared to what obtains in other climes. It’s just like fulfilling all righteousness. Like other countries, we must have a professional league and that is where it ends. Because if you look at how other countries are running their leagues, you will agree with me that we are nowhere yet. Our neighbour, Ghana, are far ahead of us not to mention South Africa, Egypt, Tunisia, Morocco and others,” Gaiya said in an exclusive interview with Global Upfront Newspapers (GUN).
Gaiya queried the sincerity of the League Management Company (LMC), the body responsible for the running of the NPFL which cannot attract a single sponsor for the league.
He said LMC has failed to give Nigeria a league what it deserves because it lacks football ideas and marketing acumen.
According to him, “the LMC as we have it now do not understand how football in Nigeria should be run professionally and the manifestations are just too obvious. Sponsors are declining to put their money in your league and investors are also foot-dragging. It is a clear signal that your league is performing below expectations and being poorly run. Every private investor believes he should put his money where value will be added. Rather, they are pulling out and the question is, why are they pulling out?
“The management does not exist, the clubs are not professional in outlook and there is interference from the government too. Unless we allow our football to be run by those that matters and who have the interest of the game at heart, we’ll continue to run in a circle. For example, in the CAF-organized competitions, our clubs have failed woefully and hardly pass through the first round, let alone qualify for the group stage. Enyimba remains the only Nigerian club to win the CAF Champions League and that was in 2003 and 2004.”
Gaiya also said that the recycling of over-aged players who have been around for too long has taken the glamour away from the league.
He equally berates the coaches who he said refused to update their knowledge of modern-day football technicalities to improve the league.
“Our league is also bedevilled by aged players who have overstayed their welcome. They have been recurring decimal in the league; moving from Enyimba to Heartland of Owerri today and tomorrow to Enugu Rangers. The same with the coaches who do not update their knowledge of the game in the past years. They don’t possess the requisite skills to coach any of our teams or clubs, they are just living on past glory. The same name we have heard in the last 20 years are still in the league and until a coach drops dead, he is a coach forever here,” he concluded.