By Patrick Omorodion
The news of the nomination of Kano-born sports administrator, Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima for the CAF Executive Committee election scheduled for February 2011 did not come as a surprise to me but definitely to those who know very little about him.
If Alhaji Galadima succeeds at the polls, he will be filling the position vacated by his disgraced countryman, Dr. Amos Adamu who has been slammed with a three-year ban by FIFA for the now famous cash-for-vote scandal.
Some have criticised Galadima’s nomination by the Nigeria Football Association, NFA claiming he does not have what it takes to play CAF politics like Adamu. And what most of them hold against him is the non qualification of the Super Eagles for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.
If the way Dr. Adamu played his own politics either in CAF or FIFA is the yardstick for any prospective occupant of the vacant seat Adamu has left, then Galadima will definitely be found wanting.
Alhaji Galadima is too clean a man to manipulate the system for his own selfish ends. Galadima will not impose mediocres on the NFA because he wants to have a solid base of officials who will always do his biddings.
Galadima will not use his position in either CAF or FIFA to threaten the country anytime things don’t go his way. Galadima is one man whose interest, first and foremost, will be the country and not self.
How do I know? Not many know that the non qualification of the Super Eagles had everything to do with the non support of the sports ministry where Adamu held sway as the Director of sports development then.
Funds were not released on time for events and one of that was the World Cup qualifier against Angola in Abuja. When fund was not forthcoming from the ministry, Galadima had to approach his state government which obliged to host the match in Kano.
The Eagles drew the match, not necessarily because of the Kano heat, as some people claim, but the lackadaisical approach of some of the so-called big players who either strolled into camp at will or failed to show up.
It was like the Adamu-led sports ministry wanted Galadima to fail so that they would have an alibi to remove him from office because immediately Angola took the World Cup ticket, a so-called Stakeholders Forum formed at the behest of greedy people went to work and started plotting Galadima’s fall.
Even after Galadima won the re-election in Kano, which FIFA upheld, a dummy was sold to President Olusegun Obasanjo that Galadima was an ANPP man and decided to take the World Cup match to Kano, an ANPP state to spite the PDP.
It was a surprise that after upholding the Kano election, FIFA again called for another election where the Stakeholders ganged up to plant Alhaji Sani Lulu Abdullahi and shared the rest positions to its foot soldiers. Some of them who lost out later confessed and apologised to Alhaji Galadima.
However the major reason Galadima was booted out was his alleged ‘stinginess’ with the NFA funds. He would not allow frivolity nor misuse or misapplication of the scarce money meant for football activities. He also ensured that the number of NFA members who travelled for events was drastically cut to save money for the association. But some estacode loving officials could not stomach that.
Galadima was not new to frugality. He did as sports commissioner in Kano state as well as the head of the Kano sub-seat during the FIFA U-20 World Championship which Nigeria hosted in 1999 where he returned millions of naira left after hosting the event.
As a journalist who covered the Kano zone of that competition for the defunct Concord Press, I was privy to complains by some officials and journalists who felt Galadima should have shared the money to them instead of returning it.
Former NFA chairman, Col. Abdulmumini Aminu who was chairman of the LOC for that competition is alive and will corroborate this story that Galadima actually returned money to him which he handed over to the supervising ministry then. Till date no one knows what happened to the money.
So for credibility, Galadima has it in abundance and Nigerians will not be afraid that their name will be soiled again out there. For administrative suavity, Galadima has also shown it as sports commissioner in Kano state, as vice president of the Nigeria Olympic Committee as well as a member of various committees set up by the Federal Government to redirect sports in the country.
That the ideas espoused by these committees were not allowed to see the light of day is not Galadima’s fault but mostly Adamu’s, who failed to implement them mainly because it will whittle his powers as the czar of sports in Nigeria.
Galadima’s most recent achievement was the exploits of Kano Pillars in the 2008/2009 CAF Champions League where they lost in the semi final to compatriots, Heartland FC of Owerri. As head of the management committee for the continental campaign, Galadima ran an open administration and ensured the players got all they needed which fired their spirit for the campaign.
His experience will help CAF and eventually FIFA if he gets to become a member of the Executive Committee in years to come. When Patrick Okpomo was not recommended for the CAF position, the NFA shot it self in the foot as the fall of Adamu has now shown. With the nomination of Galadima, this current NFA doesn’t want the mistake of the past to repeat itself and Galadima, I am very sure, will not disappoint Nigeria.