Taribo West, former Super Eagles defender, has said he was told to join a cult before getting an appointment in Rivers State.
The former Inter Milan defender said this in an interview with Sunday Punch.
He was responding to a question on why footballers were not joining politics and had very little contribution in football administration in Nigeria.
“I have been involved in the political system and things like this discouraged me from it. If it means I have to be a cultist to get a position, I’m not ready for that. I’ll prefer to drink my garri at home and be free with God.
“At the time I was in politics, a running mate to a governorship aspirant in my state (Rivers), brought me money and told me to join their cult. He told me if I wanted power, they would give me position, and that if I wanted money, I would be given. But he insisted that I must be involved in their cultism activities.
“So, I disassociated myself from them. From that day, I made up my mind that I will drink my garri, rather than become a cultist. Like I said earlier, I’ve met politicians who can’t speak good English but because they have godfathers and belong to various cults, they’ve been empowered. It’s total rubbish. I’m not afraid to say what needs to be said,” he said.
“I’ve made myself available for Rivers State for so many years. But if you are not their member, they won’t give you anything to do; they won’t involve you. You have to belong to a caucus, it’s at all levels. I have personal experiences, so I know.
“Nobody will look at you if you are not involved. They know that someone like me will disturb their activities, so they won’t get me involved. I’m the only big name in sports in my state that they don’t call for anything. So, it’s painful but hopefully, someday this will end.
West also decried the rot in football management in the country. He complained that the country was not exploiting the experience from ex-footballers at their disposal.
The former Kaiserslautern of Germany centre-back also said welfare of ex-footballers who gave their all to the country in their prime has been neglected. He revealed how his mates in the national team plead for money to feed and cover other expenses.
“It has come to a point that I need to speak out. There are people in top positions, who are supposed to manage football that are extorting money from our league. Are ex-internationals or footballers not supposed to bring in their experience to bear on the league? But they won’t allow it.
“In the last three years, there is accumulated money from FIFPro for Nigerian footballers but there are some ex-footballers who are working to divert this money. There are a lot of ex-internationals dying, those alive have no jobs and the government is not looking that way. The FA is not even concerned about their welfare or that of their families.
“Do you know how many ex-internationals call me in a month to ask for money to feed? Sometimes I ask myself if I’m a Central Bank. It’s true. If you check my phone, it’s filled with their account numbers of. Ex-footballers know all these but they are afraid to talk. But I will talk because we need to close the doors that these people are using to extort money from our football and footballers.
“I’ve not been living or feeding on their money. So, it’s high time I tell the world what we are passing through. I’m ready to challenge anybody, this is something that’s been going on for several years, yet we are quiet. And it’s not bringing any good to us. You hardly find my contemporaries in any office from the federal to state levels. Is that right?
“I was made a member of a technical study group by the Nigeria Football Federation but the last meeting I went for, I paid my transportation and hotel bills. At the end of the day, I can’t understudy anything, nobody is calling me and I’m in the dark over everything,” he complained.
Taribo West was capped 42 times for Nigeria between 1994 to 2005. He featured at two World Cups and two African Championships. He also represented the country at the 1996 Summer Olympics, winning the gold medal.