Paul Bassey
All efforts to keep myself out of today’s column have proved abortive. Colleagues who thought they could call me up to get scoops have so far being disappointed. On Friday morning one of them called and after talking to me for twenty minutes concluded that I was sitting on the fence.

He said “ Oga, its unlike you, I still don’t have a story. You are sitting on the fence” I said  he sounded like an undercover agent, and that I was not going to be forced to say what I did not mean.

He said why is it that those of us in FIFA and CAF always protected our own? I did not want to be angry.

Before now I had told this young man that no matter how we looked at it, the travail of Adamu was Nigeria’s shame.

That even that morning, the foreign media in their headlines said “Nigerian suspended…..” that we should punctuate our celebrations, that should Adamu leave FIFA and CAF tomorrow, it was not automatic that Another Nigerian will replace him.

That it does not work that way, that it could take us thirty years if not more to replace him.

Does CAF and FIFA protect their own ? Maybe. I believe I am a beneficiary of this protection. When my benefactor and  godfather Oyo Orok Oyo retired from CAF there arose numerous attempts to remove me from the body.

After a lot of pressure, it took a heart warming letter from then Secretary General Mustapha Fahmy to explain my movement from the Media Committee to General Coordinator position and how CAF was going to continue to make use of my “….invaluable services to football….”

Today I am grateful to the Hayatou regime for believing in me, still holding on to me as it were, and even honouring me with one of CAF’s highest awards. I do not want to even talk about what the late Oyo went through as his country men schemed and plotted to oust him, yet CAF  held on to him until he retired. The wife can tell the story better.

What am I trying to say? That the moment you become, by the grace of God, a member of the FIFA and CAF family, you remain a member, until you are considered not fit. In CAF and FIFA, your nationality is acknowledged, yet you are considered a citizen of the world, a global servant of the round leather game.

In CAF and FIFA your country cannot write a letter and say “withdraw this man”. No, there are rules and regulations, procedures guiding such actions and so on.

At about 10pm last Saturday, my phone rang. I did not pick. It continued ringing and then a text came in. I managed to rise up to read the text that was sent by my good friend Barrister Vincent Ukpong. “ Check Supersport Blitz. Your friend Adamu is in trouble”

I did not understand. I went to Supersports blitz. Nothing. Then came an avalange of calls led by Aisha Falode………. “ Check Sky news” I did and could not comprehend what was going on. Every fifteen minutes I was transfixed as the station reported the alleged scandal that had to do with offering world cup votes in return for thousands of dollars!

My sleep had been murdered. Through out the night, we exchanged calls. The Nigerian football community was awake.We dug deeper, we probed. We had no answers. Yes there were those who jubilated. There are those who believed Nemesis was at work. There are those who reaffirmed the nationality of God.

Then came those who saw it as a great calamity. A further blow on the prostrating stature of our sports, a regrettable occurrence at a time we were grappling with multi facetted problems bedeviling our sports.( Yes sports, because even the dope issue of the Commonwealth Games calls for concern.) I belong to this group.

A group that is looking beyond Dr. Adamu, a group that ponders the future of Nigeria after the FIFA storm.

The answer to the first call that came to me, as early as 6am on Sunday was definitive. That this was only an allegation. That it had to be substantiated………

Even as you read this, the situation has not changed. Yes, the Ethics Committee has come out suspending Dr. Adamu and five others.

Yes the FIFA President Joseph Blatter has been quoted to have used strong words, words that imply culpability, ( “It’s a sad day for football because it’s a sad day in life …..our society is full of devils and these devils, you find them in football” )  yet we cannot run away from the fact that the suspension is provisionary, pending its ratification middle November.

Only recently,  Dr. Adamu broke his silence, coming out to plead his innocence…. “Whilst I wholly refute all allegations made, I fully support the inquiry since it is important that these claims are thoroughly investigated,” Adamu said.

“Only by doing this will FIFA – and the wider football community – be able to trust that its appointed representatives are beyond reproach”

“I have not presented my position to those investigating this matter .However, I am confident that my actions, the full and true extent of which were not detailed in the story published, will demonstrate not only my innocence and integrity, but also my commitment to football and to FIFA.

“Since investigations are not yet complete, it would be inappropriate for me to comment further and I will not do so until FIFA’s final conclusion is made public.” He ended.

I do not think I have anything more to add. I am not in a hurry to. November is but tomorrow. One thing that I am however sure of is that things will not be the same again. Head or tail, the “Adamu Dynasty” as some have come to term it, stands threatened.

All the efforts put in to get to the peak  of world football are most likely to disappear in a puff of smoke. A nadir most unfortunate.

Heads or tail, Nigeria is the loser. Perhaps in the short term? In the long run I prophesy that this country will rise from the ruins of Jericho. I remember the children of Israel who found it difficult singing the Lord’s song on the banks of River Babylon. Yet by and large salvation belongs to the righteous.

It has never been this bad. These are the worst of times. It is not raining, it is pouring yet the rainbow is but a ray away. Yes it is.
Off to Lubumbashi

Grateful I am to the Almighty God and to CAF for finding me worthy to be part of the Orange CAF Champion’s league first leg final match between defending champions T.P.Mazembe and E. S. T, Eneramo’s team from Tunisia. I know this is another reminder of what Nigeria’s football is not.

I know.

See you next week.


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