By Patrick Omorodion
During the week, the Aminu Maigari-led Board of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF came out with a decision most Nigerians expected from them as sanctions for those who brought odium to Nigeria’s football via scandalous scorelines over desperation to gain promotion in the lower rung of the amateur league.
When scandalous scores were recorded in the past in the Premier League, the outcry was not as vociferous and the media too did not do enough to expose the clubs involved at the time. May be it was for this reason that the worst happened this time.
Shockingly too, an official of one of the clubs, Bala Yayari, coach of Bubayaro FC of Gombe is defending the scandal. He told Nigerians that the score of his side was not 67-0 but 13-0 as if that was also acceptable from a team that has never won a game by 3-0 or 4-0 before the game in question.
After the committee that investigated the scandal recommended various sanctions for those involved, the NFF through its Disciplinary and Organising Committee headed by Chief Mike Umeh, himself the First Vice President of the federation announced the sanctions.
These ranged from life ban for the players, the match referee and his assistants as well as the Match Commissioner while the four clubs involved namely, Police Machine, Bubayaro Football Club, Plateau United Feeders and Akurba FC bagged 10 years ban each.
The NFF was however silent on the administrators of the clubs such as chairmen, coaches and their assistants and the officials of the respective FAs, especially those of the host states.
The football body added that the culprits will also have their passport photos sent to CAF, FIFA as well as security agencies for effective monitoring but was silent on whether criminal proceedings will brought against them.
If those indicted by the investigation are only banned and no criminal case is brought against them, the same people, especially the players could just sneak out of the country into neighbouring countries, change their names and nationality and continue with the game.
Nigerian players who in the past could not make it into any of the countries teams or were denied the opportunity when the duly deserved to be selected moved over to Benin Republic and Togo with new names and are today Togolese and Beninoises, how much more those who have scandals and bans hanging over their heads.
That is why the NFF must ensure the photographs of all those involved are circulated worldwide through all the Football Associations as well as CAF and FIFA as it is the only sure way to see that the sanctions are not mere smokescreens.
Col Ahmedu and me
Ordinarily I wouldn’t have bothered to say a word on the challenge of my membership of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, NBBF Board by retired Colonel Sam Ahmedu, proprietor of one of the teams in the Dstv Basketball League, Dodan Warriors.
During the sports federations election in Abuja last May, I was told that Col Ahmedu complained about my nomination into the Board while he was dropped. I wondered why he was particular about me until someone told me he said I was not qualified to be nominated as one of the stakeholders.
In the first place I was not the only sports journalist nominated as a stakeholder. Secondly Col Ahmedu was not nominated as a stakeholder even if he runs a basketball club. He was supposed to come on Board as a member of the International bodies of a sport, in this case basketball.
If he was found not to have met the criteria for coming through the international ranks, then, for God’s sake, how is that my business. I didn’t draft the guidelines and definitely not the electoral officer who disqualified him.
Coming to my position, I have covered sports, including basketball and Dodan Warriors for the better part of 22 years. During these years too, I have reported stories on Col Ahmedu, especially his fight with either the NBBF Board or the sports ministry and in those years he saw me as a stakeholder in the sport. But years after when I was considered good enough to contribute to the development of the game as a Board member, Col Ahmedu is kicking.
What is shocking to me however is that when the Board election was being held, some members who are Col Ahmedu’s friends were the ones protesting his disqualification, a case of crying more than the bereaved. No wonder their protest was struck out by the Appeals panel.
Because his friends failed at the Appeals panel, Col Ahmedu took his case to the Natioonal Sports Commission, NSC and the Nigeria Olympic Committee, NOC, the right places to seek redress of course.
But rather than wait for the outcome of his appeal to these bodies, he has resorted to the court of law, not necessarily to seek redress but to grind the activities of the federation to a halt. A case of if I’m not there, then nobody else should.
Col Ahmedu has been on the Board of the NBBF and some other basketball buffs who could not make like him then did not resort to disrupting the activities of the federation. So if he is not there today, it does not mean he could not have another chance tomorrow.
Therefore he should allow his friends, that he is now pushing to distract Tijjani Umar and his team, to take their seats on the Board and join in moving basketball to the next level, especially after the historic qualification of the senior Men’s team, the D’Tigers to the London 2012 Olympics.