By Pual Bassey
EHI Braimah is the chief executive of Neo Media and Marketing Limited. Two weeks ago, he called me up to inform about the establishment of the AIT Football Awards and my nomination as a judge.
This was followed by a confirmation by AITâ€™s Aisha Falode. I thought this was credible given the calibre of people behind the award, the personalities I was to serve with, but most importantly, the concept which was quite refreshing coming from a private sector player that is constantly seeking ways of affirming its good corporate citizenship.
Let me quickly say that when the idea of a sports award was mooted, I quickly went down memory lane and was sorry to discover that we either ran short or lacked such credible awards in this country.
Coming at a time that we have had to commend the Lagos state government for finally according Sam Okwaraji the honour he had been denied for over twenty years, an award ceremony like this may just be the event we need in this country to constantly remind us of the efforts of our heroes past.
How come a country so richly blessed, so endowed, lacks a reward structure, such as come in the form of awards?
In Europe, in South America, in Asia and other parts of Africa, awards are held to celebrate stars and reward industry in various spheres of human endeavour.
In sports, nations organise sports awards, individual sports do same, all in an effort to not only appreciate achievers but send signals to those aspiring to achieve. We are talking about annual occurrences. How come I suddenly discover that we do not have credible and long standing awards in this country?
At the first meeting of the awards panel we found ourselves trying to draw novel guidelines, formulate frameworks, devoid of any precedent.
I thank the heavens for the quality of colleagues I have to work withâ€¦..Ikeddy Isiguzo, Mumuni Alao, Mitchell Obi, Dudu Orumen, Waidi Akanni, Fela Bank OlemohÂ and Samson Siasia, technocrats all.
Together we are expected to fashion out and deliver an award that will not only stand the test of time but one that will be a reference point as far as awards can go.
It is Mumini who said we should not lose sight of the fact that all the 21 award categories are not automatic. Should we, in the quest for nominees not find any footballer worthy for nomination in any category, then we should not hesitate to leave blanks as the case may be.
It is also our desire to ensure that this award is produced in the most excellent of manners. Despite our exposure to world class award ceremonies, we still come back to deliver sub- standard shows.
Rewind to the draw ceremony of the FIFA U-17 World Cup. I will not hesitate to say that this was quite an improvement on former shows of this nature. Traditional dancers were controlled, the sitting arrangement was exciting and roomy.
Was the NFF chairman and LOC boss Sani Luluâ€™s speech timed? Who on earth was that standing behind the Sports Minister? Pray what was the minister saying? Also, must the VPâ€™s ADC stand behind him in an event that was televised live all over the world? I have been wondering who president Obamaâ€™s ADC is.
Besides, in events like that you limit the number of VIPâ€™s to speak. Those that do speak, should be for a maximum of three minutes. Yes. Three minutes.
The draw ceremony like other ceremonies of that nature does not call for long and boring speeches. Ours was a disaster in that sense.
The MCs here again, I had a problem. With due respect to the quality of masters of ceremony used, they just could not perform.
They were limited and restricted. How come Ohi Alegbe and Aisha Falode were made to share only one microphone? You could see them straining to literally kiss the microphone from their disadvantageous positions.
Also, who dared suggest that the vibrant twosome readÂ religiously from a script? The only time I enjoyed Ohi and Aisha was when they rebelled, dropped the script and went ex tempore, giving vent to their fertile imagination and inert intelligence.
Awards are worth looking forward to and we pray the AIT football awards will be that one which will help to set the standards we very much need.
The funny side of life
The moment last weekâ€™s column hit the streets my phone was inundated with limitless text messages and calls, despite the plea that only messages be sent.
The conclusion was that this was one of the â€œâ€¦. best columns I have ever writtenâ€¦.â€ Quoting James AnyasodorÂ and that the inclusion of humour more than contributed to this.
I agree. I have also come to the conclusion that the week in week out preoccupation with the maladroitness of the NFF and the repeated maladministration of sports in this country can drive one crazy. It has therefore become necessary to punctuate my columns with certain rib cracking incidents that I have gone through in the course of my sports sojourn.
For instance, I went to Nasarawa some time ago and the young man who took me into the room advised that I should not close the bathroom door when taking a bath or visiting the gents. I asked why and he said the â€œdoor de jam. If not for God one man for stay there tayâ€.
What rubbish. Can I have another room? They said â€œnoâ€ that only suits were available. Perhaps the next day. How was I going to keep the bathroom door open if for instance I hadÂ guests? Then an idea struck me as I went in, conveniently closed the door clutching my mobile phone.
How stupid I was. If the door had â€œjammedâ€ who did I know in Nasarawa? Was I going to call people in Abuja or Lagos to come and rescue me in an hotel room inÂ far away Nasarawa?Â Till I left two days later, I bathed in the â€œopenâ€. Funny side of life.
See you next week.