NFF will not comment on corruption claims

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport, Lagos
John Mikel Obi reacts to Nigeria's failure to reach the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations following a 2-2 draw against Guinea in Abuja
John Mikel Obi reacts to Nigeria's failure to reach the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations following a 2-2 draw against Guinea in Abuja

The Nigeria Football Federation will not comment on remarks made within the Senate which labelled it the country's 'most corrupt government agency'.

On Wednesday, the President of the Senate, David Mark, said the corruption within the NFF was responsible for the Super Eagles' dwindling fortunes.

"The NFF is the centre of corruption in the country - there is no running away from the fact," said Mark.

The NFF told BBC Sport it does not comment on matters debated by Senate.

"We have failed woefully," said Mark, who presides over the Senate, which is the Upper House of the Nigerian Parliament.

"Corruption is not just financial corruption alone - even the way the players were brought in is another form of corruption."

"There is confusion and the government must put its foot down to get it right."

In a statement which may further worry supporters, Mark suggested that there may be a need for the government to pull Nigeria out of international football to allow for reconstruction.

Millions of Nigerians reacted with extreme anger when President Goodluck Jonathan suspended the Super Eagles for two years in June 2010 following their poor World Cup showing.

Senate President David Mark
Senate President David Mark has suggested that there may be a need to disband the national team

The decision was taken to 'enable Nigeria to reorganise its football', even if Jonathan lifted the ban after world governing body Fifa said it infringed its rules barring governmental intervention in football.

However, Mark has raised the issue of disbanding the country's football team once again - with two-time African champions Nigeria having failed to qualify for this year's 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

"That Fifa says we cannot touch the NFF does not mean we cannot disband football ... for many years so as to get it right," he said.

Senator Aduma Gumba, who moved the motion in the senate, added: "The Senate is concerned with the sorry state of Nigerian football, the game that unites all Nigerians together in spite of her diversity.

"Nigerian football over the years has continued to slide despite the huge resources the Federal Government is investing in the game."

Another senator, Heineken Lokopobiri, said corruption is the bane of football in Nigeria as he slammed the NFF's 'inexcusable' inability to account for both Fifa and governmental funding.

"The level of maladministration in Nigerian football today is too high. We have a crop of very incompetent leaders managing our football today," Lokpobiri told the house.

"There is no way we can make progress with this crop of leaders. There is no organisation in Nigeria that is as corrupt as NFA.

"Nigeria got $8 million for participating in World Cup and another $5.5 million for participating in a junior World Cup. I have been asking for the money without any answer."

When concluding its debate on the motion earlier this week, the senate resolved to hold a public hearing to address the problems in sport.

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