Former Super Eagles Media Officer Ben Alaiya says Chinedu Obasi was never asked to pay a bribe prior to his exclusion from Nigeria’s 2014 World Cup squad.
Obasi had alleged in an Instagram Live interview with broadcast journalist Kelechi Bernard that he was asked to bribe his way into the final list of players bound for Brazil.
Although the former Bolton Wanderers forward did not mention any officials’ name, his revelations have led to a stir on the subject of paying to play in the national team as Sports Minister Sunday Dare says a football ombudsman is underway to investigate such allegations.
Late Stephen Keshi’s assistant at the tournament, Daniel Amokachi also lent some insight on the subject and explained in an interview with The Cable that players’ agents do offer money for their clients to partake in national team assignments.
“This issue of bribe-taking or collecting in our football is not a one-way thing. Agents of players will come and meet a coach to offer money for their players to be taken,” the ex-international said.
“It’s a two-way thing. Sometimes, players are the ones that will even go to the coach to say my agent said he will pay for me to be part of the team.
“You will also see some administrators and coaches who have turned agents that will try to be influencing things from the side.”
While the stir has been on, a barrage of scathing attacks has been directed at the late handler of the team, Keshi.
However, Alaiya who was the media officer at the time has surfaced to counter Obasi’s claims.
“Let’s drop this foolery. Obasi was dropped because he had a knee injury. I was the (Eagles) media officer then. Let him name those who demanded bribe from an injured player. My name is Ben Alaiya and I hate cheap blackmail,” Alaiya stated on a WhatsApp platform NSM according to the Punch.
He added, “Apart from the Big Boss (then coach of the Eagles Stephen Keshi), all of us are alive to answer him. Even (Joseph) Yobo as captain was almost dropped because of the same knee issue.”
He further explained late Keshi’s demeanour towards any form of bribe from players.
“That’s why I asked him (Obasi) to name names, the Big Boss Keshi I know will never do that. He always told the players that he was richer than any of them and none could bribe him with gift or money. Repeat, Yobo was almost dropped for both the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations and Brazil 2014 (World Cup) for injury reasons. Ask him (Yobo), at least he’s now an assistant coach with the same team.
“I was never the coach but the Keshi I knew picked his team under the supervision of the NFF,” Alaiya stated.
Nigeria exited the competition in the round of 16 after losing by two goals to France.