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In the matter of Chukwudi and co

By Paul Bassey
LAST week, I invented a literary platform to drive home the fact that there are more civilized ways of approaching issues. I took exception to the uncouth way the NFF reacted to the allegation made by Adokiye Amiesimaka esq. against the captain of the Golden Eaglets.
I ended up by saying someone who had risen to such a responsible position in society could not just come out with such a weighty allegation simply for the fun of it.

No sooner had the column hit the streets than reactions started flooding in, so much that I had to call the group sports editor of the Vanguard to request for a special line that will be dedicated to the column.

Frontline tennis teacher Godwin Kienka called and for about thirty minutes lamented the sorry state of our sports development, by telling me the story of a mother who publicly came out to manipulate the age status of her child.

This to me was instructive because in the midst of all the brouhaha a parent, especially the father is in a position of taking the path of honour by  coming out to tell the truth and damn the consequences.

One of those who called from his Uyo home, was Obong Nse Ebong. He has read my support for Mr. Amiesimaka. What was my basis for such a support? Has he released documents, pictures………have I seen any?

I said if he had none he would not have come out so boldly…. Anyway, I promised Obong Ebong that I will get in touch with Mr. Amiesimaka on this.

As if he was aware of our conversation, Adokiye came out the next day in his column in the Punch to reiterate his accusation and say he had more than enough evidence.

One of such, hit my mail box late on Tuesday, forwarded by Ikeddy Isiguzo, Editorial Board Chairman of the Vanguard. It was a picture of the feeder team of Sharks taken in 2002. In it, the current Eaglets captain who was reported to be eighteen then, was pictured with his colleagues.

I quickly forwarded the picture to Nse Ebong.

I had not forgotten to put a call through to Amiesimaka, so on Friday, I did, to find out whether the picture which was in circulation and which the Punch Newspapers had used on its front page emanated from him.

The former Green Eagles player wanted to know whether I could be counted on the side of truth. Was I ready to fight the rot that had taken over our sports? How come people were no more ready to stand up, take up arms, preferring to sit on the fence?

Who is sitting on the fence? Certainly not Bamidele Aturu. On getting the picture, he replied.

“Dear all, I had planned to watch the semi in Lagos with my family, some of them little children. But now I should not be supporting evil to go and see such a spectacle of shame. I intend to take this matter up as soon as the euphoria goes down.

We cannot allow those shaming us and crippling the game to get away with it. If they had any sense they would have drafted these adults to play against Kenya in the World Cup qualifier and they probably would do better than the current Super Eagles who think they are doing us a favour by donning our national colours.”

Certainly not Dan Ngerem. When the former AFN president got the picture, he replied thus:
“Many thanks for keeping me in the loop.

“We must all fight this rubbish that is going on in our country where a few selfish and greedy people mortgage our collective destiny.

“They can continue with other sectors of the economy for now but we must resolve to fight and tell them to leave sports alone.

“Proper school sports with the correct kids playing at their respective level will help Nigeria to regenerate itself and help us to re-engineer our country through sports.

“Right now we are stealing from our young and short-circuiting an entire generation of Nigeria youth to our collective detriment.

“Tomorrow, we will be the first to accuse them of unwholesome practices like, cultism, armed robbery, etc.
“In an electronic and internet world where the world has become a global village there is no more hiding place…..

“I have a sixteen-year-old in SS3 (and he is in school ) and I know what he looks like compared to those masquerading as U-17 for a country of well over 120 million people whose larger proportion are made up of young people.

“Can anybody tell me where these our U-17 people are going to school and/or where they went to school.

“Nigeria is spending over N30 billion to host a secondary school competition but the same country has no meaningful school sports (which is the conveyor belt of future sustainable success) and has abandoned the other 30 odd sporting federations to their own devices.

“The lack of dynamic and functional website for Nigeria sports is simply an orchestrated confusion contrived to hoodwink stakeholders, however, today’s electronic world will surely bring the perpetrators  to disrepute.

“We should not lose hope – quite recently they unpatriotic guys told us the Banks were bigger than the rest of us ….until one ‘Sanusi’ came along.

“They also mocked me and my board when I was AFN President  when I told them we can organically create world class sports properties in Nigeria that will be shown all over the world.

“Today, the Lagos International Half Marathon is shown in over 170 countries around the world and it is in its 7th consecutive year and the Obudu Mountain Race is in its 5th consecutive year.

“So, Nigeria has all it takes to create and sustain and there is the money to fund it.
“However, we chose to waste the resources on the altar of greed.

“One day sports will get its own saviour!
“If there is any time we all resolve to march on the National Assembly or anywhere else, please count me in.
“We should never relent!”

Since that picture was published Amiesimaka has received a lot of support. Someone has even come forward to claim that even in 2002, Chukwudi was older than the eighteen years which he claimed then.
Then the shock.

That picture was made public on Wednesday, yet the Nigeria Football Federation still went on to field Chukwudi for the semi-final match against Spain.  This to the lawyer, is enough proof that it is not even the players but the officials who are guilty of perpetrating the fraud. Hear him “…..grossly irresponsible. This shows the brazzeness and impunity with which they have handled a fraud of this magnitude.

“ After that picture came out, a responsible body would have dropped the player. They would have said, when the allegation was first made, we thought it was some clown, now that there is a proof, let us investigate. They did not. They went ahead and fielded him just to tell the whole world that they are the ones cheating and not the player……”

Adokiye says he has licences, he has documents, now he has people who have come out to say “we have more. We will testify”The former commissioner for justice laughed at a suggestion by Taiwo Ogunjobi, one that says this team will be our next U- 20(?) our Under-20 at age 40?, he asked. He wants the sports, education and youths ministries to come together and evolve an enduring system that will guarantee the evolution of our youth. He wants more.

For me, whether you are a journalist, a parent, a player, a coach, an administrator, a minister or just a fan, beware.  the message gaining momentum is: THE CHEATS WILL NOT GET AWAY WITH IT. See you next week.


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