There is a pigeon English parlance that says, ‘cow wey no get tail na God dey help am pursue fly ‘.
This parlance is used in relative to the plight of Orphans as they navigate through life.
The above narrative can also be ascribed to the Nigerian domestic football players as they struggle to navigate through the Murky Waters called The Nigerian Football.
Surrounded by decrepit Facilities, inept Administrations, criminal Elements disguised as Agents and Managers, fake Friends, fake Advisers, Corrupt, Wicked and envious Elders, etc etc.
The young talent is practically in the middle of the ocean surrounded by sharks. Then the parlance begins to make sense.
There is a reason, why the words Groom, Nurture, Growth, and Development exist, to hi-light transition from Young, Inexperienced, Talented, to Maturity, Experienced and Successful.
All these elements are almost non-existent in the lives of the average Nigerian player yet these young men and ladies, against all odds mostly achieve success in their careers. But of course, then, even careers and success have to be managed and sustained.
It is for these reasons that Unions, Associations, and Organizations come into existence.
I know a young man ( ironically he is an orphan from a very young age), an ex-international footballer ( for Nigeria), and current international ( for Haiti), a super star of repute and my younger brother and prodigy, his name is Emmanuel Sarki.
I spoke to him recently to enquire how he was able to enlarge his investment portfolio ( I proudly found out that the young man has done well and still is, investment wise) despite the activities in his life.
Emmanuel Sarki had two words for me (of course after thanksgiving to God Almighty), he said, ‘bros thank God for Alex Agbo ( a renowned Nigeria’s ex international) and the System in Belgium ‘. The Term System meaning The Players Union and Football Administration.
Now in Nigeria, while the Alex Agbos are scarcely available, The System also exists. The difference is that while The System in other climes with all intents and purposes seeks to protect and promote the Lives, Rights and Welfare of The Player, in Nigeria The System seems only to do one thing, Exploit the Player.
Have you asked yourself why there is so much balance in shared prosperity between players and Administrators in most climes while the reverse is the case with Nigeria where over 80% of the football prosperity lies with the Administrators and a shabby 20% left for the principal actors.
Where is the Nigerian Players Union in all of these? I’m sure you’re wondering, well that is the crux of the matter and probably this write up.
Nigeria has notably two Players Associations ( note; Associations), supposedly saddled with the responsibility of promoting and protecting the Lives and Welfare of Players in Nigeria.
There is the first and Pioneer Players Association which has been in existence for several decades. Presided over by a vociferous, passionate and enigmatic leadership, this Players Association in my opinion would have been ideal ( based on their leadership capacity) if it was structured to cater for Active and Retired players equally. It’s operations over the years have exposed the Association’s affinity toward Former Players. Their passion, patriotism and Tenacity however, makes this Association closest to an Ideal players Union.
The second Players Association which is a splinter from the first in my opinion is a Farce. I know the Founder, an individual with a reputable character and passion, had good intentions too but something went wrong somewhere, somehow and the Association got hijacked by the Establishment ie The Football Federation.
Suffice to say that the second Players Association and splinter group from the first is the recognized Players Association by the Football Federation and this is worrisome thus my reason for calling it’s present composition a Farce. The Association in my opinion is nothing short of puppets in the hands of the Football Administration in Nigeria.
What else would you call a players Association whose leader is an SA to the Football Leadership? Another critical member and Executive of the Association, a PA to the same Football Leadership.
Every word or statement from this Association has to go through and vetted by the Pay masters in this case, the Nigeria Football Leadership. Feel free to fill the gaps yourself as to the consequences on the Nigerian Players.
Both players Associations ( the first and second) in my opinion however fall far short and both are lacking in Transparency, and Accountability . Both also in my opinion by their title, Association, are limited in functionality.
By definition An Association is a group of people organized for a joint purpose. Associations engage mostly in professional concerns of its members like skills improvement and Investment Portfolio.
Union on the other hand is an organization of workers formed to project the Rights and Interests of its members.
While both Association and Union act as advocates for its members, only Union is legally empowered to collectively bargain with an Employer and the Employer is obligated to bargain with Union.
Union can also help to set standards, Wages, Working Conditions and Quality of life for its members. Only Union through legislation at National, State and Local levels can write to establish Laws aimed at Improving Job Conditions for its members.
Is there any questions or doubt as to what The Nigerian Players Need. A Robust, Independent and Professional Nigeria players Union of course.
Don’t get it twisted my brothers, Union Leaders and Employers all over the world only maintain courteous relationships but never friendly. In Nigeria we have an Association that is not only friendly but a stooge of the Employer.
At hindsight, I was added to this WhatsApp Group Platform called Association For Better Organized Nigerian League, without making any contributions yet I have quietly studied the group’s ideology, motives and policy and must confess that The Group is the closest I’ve seen of any Players Organization in Nigeria that captures the true essence of a Players Union.
I have watched them engage in Players Education and Orientation. They also have their Points Agenda spelt out in clear terms and forwarded to the Football Authorities with a clear Terms and Conditions for Engagement. The Platform for me speaks Intelligence, Passion and Vision.
Unfortunately that is what It is, (or At Least What I think it is) a WhatsApp group platform. It also has the tag Association to its name.
It is my advice therefore that if all of us do and honestly claim that we have the best interest of our budding young brothers and sisters at heart, then a fusion of all the Players Associations into one Nigeria Players Union will be the Ideal thing to do.
And should common sense and Patriotism fail to prevail, then, somewhere in the horizon a True and Viable Players Union is Loading.
Information they say is power, all you need is the signature and representation mandate of the players ( in this case) and their ( player’s) membership. Your official registration as a Union under the National Labor Act.
Then every employer or in this case the Football Administration must listen to you.
However, To my younger brothers, sisters, sons, daughters and Football Stars, shine your eyes, ask questions, consult lawyers and or trusted elders before you sign over your future. Fear no man, Trust and Believe only in God.
I advise you ( in the strongest terms possible), do not belong to any Union whose Leadership is a creation ( or stooge) of the Football Administration.
Do not belong to any Union whose Policy and Goal does not revolve around you and your welfare.
Do not belong to any Union that lacks Expertise, Empathy, Transparency and Accountability.
Note! Nobody can coerce, force or blackmail you to join. You have the Right to make your own choice #Freedom of Choice and Association.
I have not written this piece to malign any person, persons or organization. It may interest the reader (s) to know that the Leadership of almost all the Associations expressed in this Piece are my friends, Elder brothers and Colleagues. Some of them are allies that I hold on the highest esteem but Nigeria is greater than all of us .
And as My Absolute Loyalty to my Country and its Greatness remain legendary so is my Love and Support for its youth, the true future of our great Nation.
To the great Nigerian Players, as God helps you to Navigate this Murky Nigerian Football Waters, just remember, Emmanuel Hyacinth Babayaro ( by this epistle) left you this Footprints on the Sands of Time. Live Free.


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