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Odegbami: Television, NTA and Sports – the Tragedy and the Lessons From Uyo!

Odegbami: Television, NTA and Sports – the Tragedy and the Lessons From Uyo!

Congratulations Super Eagles for winning last Wednesday.

An emerging mixture of old and new-look Super Eagles, a team of young players largely harvested from the wombs of European clubs, comes to Nigeria, led by their holidaying coach, to take on the Squirrels of Benin Republic in an AFCON 2021 qualifying match.

They are brought together, as usual, for only two days to train and play. The manager, Gernot Rohr, takes a break from his scouting assignment in Europe to mold together an ‘approximate’ team, and releases them to display individual skills and ability before a vociferous home crowd on the green lush turf of the Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo.

The team wins but people are discussing NOT the match but the television coverage of it.

Meanwhile, the team prepares to move on to Lesotho two days later for another encounter in the series of group matches in the campaign for a place in the 2021 AFCON scheduled for Cameroon.


Although not really important but good to note, after that match that should be a routine ‘walkover’, Gernot Rohr will journey back to his Europe to continue his European safari, the smile on his face indicating his gratitude to Nigerians for gifting him the coziest, easiest and most paying job in the world – coaching their national team. His work has been a long vacation!

I do not know of any other coach in the world that enjoys the privileges showered on Gernot Rohr – a foreign coach that spends all his working hours in Europe!

Also Read – 2021 AFCON Qualifier: Super Eagles Fight Back To Beat Benin 2-1 In Uyo

In the next seven months or so, his contract will be up for either a renewal or an end. That decision is up to the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, that has been under siege for some time and may not want to take on the burden of another controversy after managing to survive the most difficult challenge of its tenure – investigation by anti-crime agents. So, the NFF may likely let Gernot go peacefully.

I do not know what the German will need to do to win back most Nigerians to his side after the two huge disappointments of his showing at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and at AFCON 2019 in Egypt that will not go away.

However, this is not about Gernot or even the Super Eagles.

The most enduring picture out of Uyo last Wednesday is the failure by NTA, Nigeria’s national television station, to properly bring to homes pictures reflecting the match as well as the beauty and magnificence of the most modern stadia in Africa, an edifice every Nigerian should be proud of, where the match was played and won – the Godwin Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo.

The vast majority of Nigerians all over the country that waited to watch the game on television have spent the past few days not reviewing the Eagles good performance but lamenting what turned out to be a television eyesore and nightmare.

It was very easy for everyone to turn to the national television station and heap all the blame for what happened on the poor station. But the truth is that NTA are not to blame at all.

Indeed, but for NTA, Nigerians would have had to face blank screens on their television sets on the day of the match, with the impossible circumstances created by the Confederation of African Football, CAF, with only hours to go before the match, for any decent coverage to take place.

It was an impossible task.

NTA decided that it was more important for Nigerians to see their national team, no matter how poor the pictures turned out, than to stare at blank screens in their homes.

The full story of what transpired with hours to go before kick-off is unbelievable drama that shows how not to run the business of television marketing by CAF.

In retrospect, everyone is left wondering if it would not have been better for NTA to decline the last-minute Greek gift to cover the match rather than take up the impossible challenge and end up burning their fingers as they just did.

However, underneath every darkness are hidden some of life’s best treasures. So, rather than curse it, we should bless the darkness.

Uyo was ‘darkness’ come to NTA.

Rather than dwell in lament of what happened the station has to start searching and digging for the hidden ‘treasures’ that surely lie beneath that disappointing showing, and there are many, I can already see.


Television is the key to the development of the sports industry in every advanced country. The sports industry also provides the ‘oxygen’ that fuels the rapid development and income generation and profitability of television stations also.

It is a matter of rub my back I rub yours. Television and sports must go hand in hand in a win-win situation.

Television, however, has to take the lead in the drive for this mutual growth by providing the means of promoting, covering, packaging and marketing sports. That means having the infrastructure, the equipment, the technology and the personnel to produce content that will attract viewership and big business to both! To achieve this requires big investment.

That is what NTA should make its owner, the federal government of Nigeria, to understand. NTA can be very profitable if it can drive sports and the development of the sports industry in Nigeria. There is the economy, the market, the viewership in numbers and some level of facilities already that are not been maximally deployed even now.

Where are the 10 Outside Broadcast Vans purchased to cover the 1999 World Youth Championship in Nigeria? Those vans have been renovated and upgraded at least once since then. Those vans can do basic television coverage that may not match the 28-camera coverage of ordinary league matches in Europe presently, but will come pretty close if well utilized.

Digitalisation is inevitable for the NTA very soon. That should provide an excellent opportunity for fresh investment in new and modern equipment, training of new personnel after the huge loss of very experienced staff through successive retirements over the decades without replacement, and poaching of experienced staff at the advent of private television stations.

Television is very important to all of sports, but particularly to football. Television and football go together, hand in hand.

The football industry cannot develop or thrive without television driving it.

The good thing is that Nigerians are together now in insisting that what happened in Uyo should never happen again.

From the criticisms, must come a new zeal and fresh ideas about the tomorrow of television and, particularly, the NTA.

The Uyo experience reveals the weak foundation upon which present Nigerian television in sports coverage is built.

New and innovative thinking must emerge from the debris of the Uyo experience in order for television, NTA and sports, led by football, to become an industry in the biggest economy, the largest market and most populated country in Africa.

Television will drive proper sports development, youth engagement and empowerment, and create massive job opportunities within the huge industry.

Television will connect the dots and the links of sports with tourism, culture, entertainment, education, health, the environment, town planning and so on and so forth.

The coverage of the Super Eagles match last Wednesday is a blessing in disguise. It has ignited a review of NTA and its relationship with sports in Nigeria. We must seize the moment to kick-start a new dawn for the essential romance between television and sports in Nigeria.

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  • Lord AMO 2 years ago

    Nothing will happen as usual

  • Saint P. 2 years ago

    I really understand it’s ridiculous paying a foreign coach with foreign currency and he spends most of his working days in Europe but again can you force a foreign coach to stay in the country just because you are paying him? If you are talking about him staying back to monitor the league then that is a joke because there is nothing like a league here, no foreign coach will take that punishment, the best thing for NFF to do is get a local coach if not then this complaint should stop and let the guy be.

  • For this Country everything is always gonna be done in medicine after death approach.WHY’?
    Government will wait for terrorist group to kill Soldiers amass before they would remember to equip them with better armory.
    Govt will wait until a trailer load of petrol is stock inside a big pot hole along a federal road before they would remember to “patch” the Road.
    The list is endless

    Zero planning,
    Nigeria is a gathering of people in an area somewhere around the world not a Country’!!

  • Pompei 2 years ago

    You can’t beat the reach? What reach? Their reach was not long enough to properly broadcast a HOME GAME! Ineptitude, lack of professionalism, moribundity and incompetence…the show of shame has been on display for decades. We did have good sports commentators back then. Ernest Okonkwo, Yinka Craig, Akinloye Oyebanji, Mainasara Ilo, Fabio Lanipekun, Walter Oyatogun, and a few others. These guys endeavored to produce value in spite of substandard working conditions. So NIgerian fans at least had something to look forward to. But the current commentators are just a disgrace! How can the uninformed run value-added commentaries? It’s not possible! Imagine the faux pas of the commentator on Wednesday – SUPER EAGLES 2 NIGERIA 1. How do you defend an error like that? So called communication professionals at the NTA did such a shoddy job of broadcasting the game and running commentaries. 12 yr old kids in developed countries would have done a much better job of broadcasting that game, with their phones or tablets, and the commentaries would likely have been better as well. 2019 is almost at an end, and we are still so far behind in Nigeria?
    The NTA is perhaps the most backward TV station on the planet. A total disgrace. The station needs to be revamped, and operated in a manner that is competitive with other reputable TV organizations around the world. The corruption, nepotism and eye service that characterizes Nigerian enterprise and results in embarrassment like the NTA needs to be curtailed. We are fast becoming a big joke. Giant of Africa that can’t boast of a standard national TV station? And that is just the beginning…..there are many, many other things our citizens lack. Things that citizens of other countries take for granted. With corruption so rampant and ubiquitous in our society, the malfunctioning NTA is just a reflection of the larger problem….the Nigerian polity.

  • Samchi 2 years ago

    Una never tells waiting ma G Rohr do In a sef.
    Why are you bent on saking of this Man.
    This is just bad belle and witchcrafting at the Highest other, people are seeing that he is using the best legs we currently have at the moment in the best possible way or what else do you want to add to the current squad in terms of player management and Transparency of team organisation.
    Stop witch hunting this Man Abeg, and allow him to see off his contract first.
    When super Eagles made us to always press calculator nobody die o’ Now we are qualifying with games to spare people are acting I too know as if NFF borrow you money to pay the man’ it’s not like his the Highest payed in Africa.

  • Samchi 2 years ago

    **una never tell me waiting Rohr do una sef**

  • Kelvin paul 2 years ago

    My brother Sam chi,this country we are very wicked.How can segun write to criticise the coach that has 100% records so far.mr. segun,if you have a brother wishing to take over Rhor.please forget it.What did our local coaches know including yourself.Is it Rhor that led under 20 to world cup? Is it Rhor that led olympic eagles to Afcon.Mr .segun if Rhor were your brother would advise NFF to sack him? Because the man is not giving you people a cut from his salary? In any where in the world,senior national team is not for developing players.mr. segun if I call you a witch dont blame me! For God sake this man is doing an excellent job for us.Thank God u didnt win Nff chairman when you contested few years back,you have been more worst than any other person.This how you would have managed our football.pls segun write how we can develop our local league and leave an innocent man to enjoy his job.If he likes let him stay in heaven and get us result that want we want.Amebo like you.May be you want the job to be given to ur colleague Yusuf that is under CAF suspension to he can continue to collect bribe from players to fix them in the national teams and subsequently get your cut from there.Ole! You people will not succeed !!!

  • Kelvin paul 2 years ago

    Give a Nigerian coach the job,next match you will hear my brother Iheanacho that has not played up to 2% match at club level is back to national team.For sure,he will share pounds to them and they will allow him to lead our attack.Foolish local coaches

  • Oakfield 2 years ago

    Garbage again from the ex cricket international. So u want rohr to come and start monitoring our rotten local league, eh??? Where is ur sense??? Contribute ur own quota to make our domestic league and then mr rohr would come and monitor it but until then, just shut up.