By Patrick Omorodion
*Ngerem, Gara-Gombe fault Ndanusaâ€™s ambition
A few days after the Super Eagles managed to qualify for footballâ€™s biggest fiesta, the World Cup which holds in Africa for the first time next year, and calmed the nerves of Nigerians who are passionate about the game, a new crisis capable of rocking sports to its foundation is brewing again.
The crux of the imminent crisis which took a new dimension on Wednesday in Lagos is the ambition of the Sports Minister/Chairman, National Sports Commission, NSC, Engineer Sani Ndanusa, to succeed Engineer Habu Gumel as the President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, NOC.
In a move to cut shot Ndanusaâ€™s ambition, the NOC rose from a meeting in Lagos to announce the disqualification of the minister because, according to the outgoing spokesman of the NOC, Tony Nezianya, Ndanusa did â€œnot meet the mandatory four years requiredâ€ to contest for the position of president.
The minister however laughed off his disqualification stressing that the NOC of which incidentally he is the 3rd Vice President of the present Board, said â€œthey donâ€™t have the constitutional rights to do thatâ€ because he has been on the Executive Committee of the tennis governing body in Africa, CAT since 2003. A letter from CAT to the NOC confirming Ndanusaâ€™s claim was sent to Vanguard Thursday.
Even as Ndanusa tries to fight Gumel, himself a beneficiary of government support in the past, some former sports administrators have queried the justification of Ndanusa seeking to add the NOC portfolio to his already loaded schedule of minister, President of the Nigeria Tennis Federation and first vice president of the Confederation of African Tennis.
Like the NOC claimed on the NTF elections, former Gombe State Football Association chairman, Alhaji Ahmed Shuaibu Gara-Gombe said Ndanusaâ€™s election was faulty ab initio because â€œhe violated the rule which stipulated that no person should be elected by proxy. The rule was applied in the case of Chief Raymond Dokpesi who was stopped from contesting as weightlifting president.â€ Gombe further stated that the NOC statutes says the body should resist all forms of pressure, be it political, legal, economic and religious and therefore stressed that allowing a serving minister to head the body would make nonsense of that provision.
â€œIt is disappointing to realise that people who find themselves in position of authority always like to use it to change the cause of justice and fairnessâ€, he said, advising that the minister should be able to lead the way for administration management.
Another former administrator, Dan Ngerem, who led the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) from 2001 to 2005, said â€œwhat Ndanusa is doing is highly regrettable because we in the trenches together fighting the injustices in sports. It is sad that what we were fighting against, he is now doing it.â€ â€œHe is NSC Chairman/Minister, head of tennis and now he wants to be the NOC President, all these are 24 hours job if you must do it well.
Where will he have the time and energy to do all at the same time. We supported him when he came on board, those of us who supported him should also be able to tell him that no when he is derailing,â€ Ngerem said, adding, â€œwhere is the check and balances, where is the oversight functions, there will be none anymore.â€ Ngerem said that painfully Ndanusa has become a football minister like his predecessors, neglecting others sports including tennis which he heads, stressing â€œwhich corporate organisation would support sports when only one man controls all the organs responsible for sports in the country.â€
He said that if the NSC has anything against Gumel, they should look for somebody else and not the minister, adding that the idea of Team Nigeria was killed the moment then sports minister, Col Musa Mohamed was made its chairman.
Still on Gumelâ€™s ambition to continue in office, Gara Gombe said that if Ndanusaâ€™s position is because he feels Gumel failed, â€œthen he too failed because he was vice president under Gumel for eight years. What quality has he that Gumel doesnâ€™t have. On moral grounds, I feel Ndanusa should not get the NOC job.â€
He said he still talking with his lawyers to see if how he can stop the election if Ndanusa insist on contesting, stressing â€œIf Iâ€™m unable to stop the election in court, I will urge President Yarâ€™Adua to stop him and also call on the sports federationsâ€™ presidents not to vote him.â€
Continuing, the sport critic said â€œif we fail the legal and political battle as well asÂ the presidential and congress battle to stop Ndanusa, then it is doom for Nigeriaâ€™s sports because Ndanusa canâ€™t take our sports anywhere.
He said the system â€œhas succeeded in pushing away good people who could help sports develop like the Cosmos Madukas, Dan Ngerems, Molade Okoya-Thomases, Orji Uzor Kalus and Eddie Aderinokuns, people who have spent their resources in our sports. They want people who can only take from sports but canâ€™t give back to sports.â€