I am overcome with emotion seeing a Nigerian official take responsibility for a cock up rather than looking for who to point fingers at. Amaju Pinnick, whom in the past I have abused (me being an emotional football fan and all), has won a place in my heart. There is no guarantee that I won’t abuse him again in future, after all it’s footie, but let it be on record that Chxta thinks that the man sabi im work.
Full text of his apology below:
Good morning. I’ll start by tendering my wholehearted apology to Nigeria and Nigerians for the Shehu Abdullahi error. It is unforgivable and could have undone months of hard work. As head of the Federation, I take responsibility for this. It happened on my watch.
While accepting the Federation’s fault here, let me quickly explain how this went by unnoticed. It doesn’t change the fact that we didn’t keep our eyes on the ball and will help us in our planned restructuring of the Technical & Competitions Department.
Shehu Abdullahi got his first yellow card in our very first preliminary match against Swaziland away. When the draws for the Group Stages were made, the Technical staff made a grave error; assumption. They assumed the cards gotten prior would not count. To be fair to them, throughout the qualifying series, official match documents didn’t even show that Shehu Abdullahi was on a yellow card. For instance, when we played Cameroon, Mikel, Moses and Balogun were put on notice that they had yellow cards. Team meetings were even held about how to handle their cards so they wouldn’t miss crucial games. Shehu Abdullahi was never in the mix. Shehu then received a yellow against Zambia in our penultimate game, two years after the Swaziland match.
Another grave mistake then occurred. Fifa sent an email to the technical officer in charge, that Shehu Abdullahi was suspended for the Algeria match. In a twist of fate, that officer was in hospital, with a severe heart condition, battling for his life. The biggest knock to our system is the fact that his official correspondences should have been forwarded to more than one person. It wasn’t. We went into our last match not knowing about Fifa’s notice. Not acceptable, I agree, but these are the facts of the matter.
On the match day, we were unaware, the match officials were unaware and our opponents were unaware. It was a horrendous error and we at the Federation are truly apologetic. We thank God it did not undue years of hard work. It was a lack of due diligence in and by one of our departments and we are ensuring that errors like these never happen again. On behalf of all of us at the NFF; I apologise, Nigeria. Our focus remains. We will soar higher.
See! This is how it is done.
The man began by saying sorry. Then he explained what went wrong. From the explanation, which adds up, it is clear that he is not just throwing a bone at the people of Nigeria. He clearly spent an evening making phone calls, and getting to the root of the matter. Such mistakes do happen. As a Super Eagles fan, I am thankful that the mistake has not cost us our place at the World Cup.
This man has just gotten all the goodwill I have to give for his Russia project. I hope and pray that officials of the Nigerian government can learn from this. Not one of us is superman. We will all have our moments of cock up. When such moments happen, own up to it, learn from it, and attempt to be better. We can be better.
God bless Amaju Pinnick. God bless the Super Eagles. God bless Nigeria!
By Cheta Nwanze. This article first appeared in The Medium.