By Ben Efe
Sports Minister Bolaji Abdulahi disclosed at the Lagos Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, SWAN Forum in Lagos at the weekend that the Nigeria Premier League will start from the scratch after the tumultuous regimes of Davidson Owumi and Rumson Baribote.
He disclosed that the vexed issue of sponsorship, which became like an albatross on the neck of successive administrators of the league has been laid to rest and Nigeria football fans can look forward to a new beginning.
“First of all I want to express the confidence that I have in the interim management committee. They are men who have distinguished themselves in their different callings. “The Interim Management Committee has plans to take the league to a different level. Literally speaking they are starting from the scratch,” said Mr. Abdullahi.
He announced that mobile network firm, Globacom that has continually loomed large over NPL with regards to sponsorship rights have agreed to withdraw all litigations from the law courts concerning the sponsorship rights. However, Globacom will own the right to title sponsorship for the next three years.
Mr. Abdullahi disclosed that he had to intervene in the matter to ensure that the league resumes as soon as possible as Nigerian players were bearing the brunt of the delay in the start of the league. “We have players who are ready to play. But there is no league for them to express themselves.
“This is one of the reasons Nigerian footballers have been sold into slavery. We have our players all over the world and in countries that you will never imagine that they will be.”
The Nigeria Premier League has been unable to take off due to high level of intrigues bordering on administrative control and sponsorship rights. In 2011, Davidson Owumi was elected chairman of the NPL but his reign was cut short after he signed a deal with rival company MTN. He was removed by a court ruling that questioned the process that brought him to power. And former Bayelsa United chairman, Victor Baribote was thrust upon the NPL and he was in turn removed last year by the club chairmen who accused him of bringing the league nearer to its grave than ever.