Reliance on overseas-based players sign of Nigerian football failure – Mouktar



Abuja FA boss, Adam Mouktar Mohammed, who is contesting for the Nigeria Football Federation presidency, tells ‘TANA AIYEJINA about his plans for the country’s football, if elected into office


As Abuja FA boss, you were nicknamed the Silent Achiever. What will you offer if elected the NFF president?

I am humbled by the recognition, we have achieved something positive in the development of football, particularly in the Federal Capital Territory. We deliberately decided as a team that we will let our work do the talking. We have kept all our campaign promises. I stand out among the other aspirants because I understand the business of football more than any other. I was a football agent for 15 years. So, I have had the privilege to travel all over the world, interact and see first hand how some of the world’s best clubs are run. And I understand the process of investing my hard earned money into football and getting returns. I have developed more than 10 young players from nothing to the top national team and Europe for professional contracts. I will definitely come with a result driven mindset to achieve excellence, success and sustainability.

Corruption has been a major issue in Nigerian football. How do you hope to tackle it?

Corruption is definitely the biggest problem, but other countries have dealt with it systematically and we will also put in the hard work, vigilance and commitment. It is in practically every segment of football, so we need to have people with passion, integrity and skill to handle the task. We will put measures and processes in place to monitor, prevent and punish culprits.

How will you source for funds, another major issue in Nigerian football?

I sincerely feel the money will come once there is proper leadership that resonates integrity, competence and commitment/passion. Corporate sponsors want to get value and see value . So, you have to show that value in your brand product.

What plans do you have for grassroots football?

Grassroots football needs basic things like access to coaches education, encourage community youth leagues, access to facilities and affordable equipment, regional development centres for players, coaches, administrators and referees. We intend to bring all these in.

Nigeria is losing grip of her hold on women’s football, while the NWFL has suffered near neglect in the domestic scene. How will you revive the women’s game?

Yes you are correct, but what you see is that other countries have invested heavily and given huge incentives to grow the women’s game. And now they are reaping the rewards for their hard work. But we have refused to invest in facilities, coaches education, player identification and development , and no reward or incentives for effort, like good pay, strong league, pension etc.

Why do you think you are the best candidate to run Nigerian football?

I am the best candidate because I am a breath of fresh air, I am full of ideas, my knowledge of the football ecosystem is second to none, I have performed very well being adjudged as the best FA chairman currently in the country . I have kept all my promises. I understand the problems and I have the solutions.

The Nigerian men’s leagues have been in a sorry state too, what structures will you put in place to stem it’s decline?

The men’s league is not structured, it has a lot of problems. It needs a radical overhaul. It needs to be attractive and fair to restore confidence and respect. People need to be paid their dues. We need to do our own media production and then sell the TV rights.

Some insist you are an outsider, do you think you stand a chance of winning the election?

Yes, you can say that, being that I am not in the executive board of the NFF. But on the other hand, it’s a good thing because 200 million Nigerians want change. The last eight years with three cups we are out of all major events, our rankings are below par. I feel this presents an opportunity to pick the best and most qualified man for the job.

A lot of Nigerians have complained about the reliance on overseas-based players at the expense of the home-grown talents. Are we going to see changes in this regard if you are elected?

This definitely worries me. This is a clear sign of failure, hence going for ready-made, who have been schooled abroad. We can’t go on like this. What happens to the millions of hopefuls here in Nigeria? This is because we are not serious enough to develop football from the bottom up, you can see no football schools, no facilities and no coaching programmes.

What did you learn from your time as Abuja FA chairman that you hope to put into practice as NFF president?

I am the landlord of the NFF office as they reside here in the FCT and most of their activities are here, so we work in harmony and good understanding. The fact is nearly 99 per cent of all football stakeholders in Nigeria frequently come to Abuja, so, we interact.

The FCT FA during your reign impacted on various aspects of the game, from human capital development to coaching, refereeing, infrastructure among others. How would you bring this to bear at the national level?

Abuja is the centre of unity for Nigeria, it’s a melting pot where everyone feels at home, so it’s a mini Nigeria. I have given everyone a sense of belonging and cater for each segment, I have ran an all-inclusive system, we have revived the local area councils and integrated them properly, so, it is easy to replicate in the NFF. What we need are basic foundations to grow the football structures.