By John Egbokhan
Elections into the board of the Nigeria Premier League have been thrown open to all Nigerians by the Chairman of the football body, Chief Oyuiki Obaseki. The NPL board was elected in 2005 and their tenure ends next year.
Disclosing this yesterday, a
t a Conference session held inside the corporate headquarters of Vanguard Newspapers in Lagos, Chief Obaseki, who presides over Nigeriaâ€™s league, said the decision to relax the stringent rules governing elections into the body was aimed at making for greater efficiency and general development of the countryâ€™s football.
â€œIn our continuous bid to develop our football, we have resolved to throw open the elections into the board of the Nigeria Premier League, when elections hold in March 2010. I do not intend to hold on to power, that is why, I urge any Nigeria who has the growth of our league in his heart, to feel free to contest for positions into the board.
â€œUnlike, in the past, where one of the requirements to qualify to contest election was to be in a club, this time around, there is nothing like that because we want persons who have something to offer to the country to be part of the business of developing the game and we hope that this move would open the pathway to increased and vibrant participation in the forthcoming electionsâ€, added Obaseki, who informed major stakeholders comprising former Green Eagles stalwarts, Sylvanus Okpalla and Emeka Ezuego, CAF official, Paul Bassey and sports marketer of acclaim,, Mitchell Obi.
While expressing shock over the state of our national game, the former Chairman of Bendel Insurance, said that â€œit so shameful that we are still groveling in the dark because we are the thing that is wrong with Nigeria football. We have not followed any pattern.
Football development is minus zero. The government is the first offender because they control the clubs, who in turn, provide the persons that get into the Nigeria Football Federation.
â€œThe people in NFF are trying to put up something but it is trial by error. The board has given opportunities to the Eagles to thrive but the results are not there to be seen. Instead of placing premium attention to development, our administrators are out for money. I brought out N30m to start the NPL and today, we are rated the best in Africa, but we are still workingâ€.
While blaming clubs chairmen and managers for the dearth of spectators at league venues, the second vice-President of the NFF, said that â€œthey drove away fans from the stadium because they organise thugs to harass officials and fans, all in a bid to win at all cost and this sad trend, made fans to start avoiding league matchesâ€.
Speaking on plans to ensure that teams play their matches on good pitches, Chief Obaseki said that the strict implementation of the plan, which would make for a better league, would go into full swing at the end of the Under-17 World Cup, which Nigeria is hosting, as an understanding has been reached for league matches to be played at the venues
â€œI have told 3SC, Tornadoes and some other teams that they have to settle for other standard pitches because of the poor state of their own grounds
On plans to curb incidents of referees corruption, the league Czar said that plans were afoot to provide incentives to those saddled with the task of officiating, even as he raised hopes that regular live television coverage of the 380 games in the season, reduce corruption among officials.
On the issue of television coverage, Chief Obaseki lambasted the Nigeria Television Authority for placing premium preference on coverage of the English Premier League, over the Nigeria League.
â€œNTF paid 3 million pounds to show one match of the EPL per week while they failed to pay to show our league matches, which are about 380, forgetting that this is their backyardâ€.