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Embarrassing our Vice President!

By ONOCHIE ANIBEZE

My senior colleague Paul Bassey has written on this twice. Sani Toro, a one time FA scribe has commented on it and even quoted Article 22 of the CAF Statutes that clearly states how a vacant position in CAF Executive can be filled.
It amazes me how those who should educate the people are misleading them.

Tuesday morning, I was listening to a sports programme on radio and the ignorance one of the analysts aired  shamed me. He  was wondering why Dr. Amos Adamu would not just stop his appeal on corruption charges and allow Ibrahim Galadima to replace him in the  CAF Executive Committee.

I have read and heard such comments in the media in the past few weeks and I guess it was why Paul Bassey recalled what he had written, probably for those who did not read his first piece on the CAF and FIFA elections. But we have continued to goof at home and abroad, prompting me to add a little voice on the matter.

Honestly, I wouldn’t have bothered if we limited our ignorance to ourselves and  not involve our Vice President, a development that has made us a laughing stock before football buffs. I have just gathered that our  team that went to Sudan to campaign for Ibrahim Galadima went with a letter from our Vice President to CAF President, stating that it was Federal Government’s  position that Galadima be allowed to replace Adamu in CAF and FIFA. Whoever armed the leader of our delegation with that letter did not only embarrass  our Vice President but  also the entire country.

The West Africa Zone  for which Adamu won election into the Executive Committee will only be due for election in 2013. And when it is due some candidates will emerge. Replacement of Adamu will not be by substitution as Nigeria erroneously presented our Vice President as requesting. If for reasons of death, ill-health or expulsion  a member does not complete the term for which he was elected, the Executive Committee could appoint somebody to complete that term. On completion of such a term, candidates will emerge and  election will hold. There’s nothing like substitution.

To allow for some continuity tenures from different zones differ otherwise all members of the Executive could be swept out in one election. The tenure  for the zone that Dr. Adamu contested and won will end in 2013.

And since Dr. Adamu, Slim Aloulou of Tunisia and Amodu Diakete of Mali were all suspended and not expelled CAF has not deemed it statutorily right to replace them. And replacement is not by substitution. So, why did Nigeria make so much noise about substitution and even went to the extent of misleading our Vice President to write a letter to CAF?

And when CAF said there was no vacancy in the said zone some said it was because Adamu and Hayatou were friends.

Was Hayatou also protecting Aloulou and Diakete? Have Mali and Tunisia moved through their governments for substitution of the suspended members? Get me right. This is not about the corruption charges for which FIFA has suspended them. It is no defence for these men. It is not even about them.  It is about knowing what the rules say and applying them.

If those in authority don’t know the rules then the level of our problem is better imagined than said here.  Article 22 makes this clear. Those who made the Vice President to write the letter should apologise to him for the embarrassment.

Election for the zone was not due.   But for FIFA, the  seats, one of which  Adamu occupied, are  due for election in the May Congress and CAF duly held election to select the two African representatives.

I wrote this piece on Tuesday, before the Wednesday elections in Sudan. I wish Galadima could make it but I doubt he would  for we started on a wrong note. FIFA and Caf elections are not won overnight. You need long relationship with the member states. You need long contacts and not letter from your President or his vice. Your name only may not win you elections.

Your personality and contacts within the body are very crucial.  I’m only ashamed of the ignorance some who should have known aired and which probably led our authorities to mislead our Vice President and by a large extent the Federal Government of Nigeria. Membership of international bodies is through election and not by substitution.

The election of candidates unto the FIFA and CAF Executive Committees is based on the expiration of the tenure of the incumbents. I would have loved to see Galadima in FIFA but it takes more than the last minute actions that our authorities undertook. If Fire Brigade actions work for us in Nigeria, they may not work where people employ vision and good planning to achieve results. 2013 is not far away. Let the Nigerian candidate begin now.

USA ‘94 squad, still a family

When I thanked the ex Eagles players for the kind of honour they bestowed on their fallen colleague Uche Okafor, Jay Jay Okocha wondered why I should be thanking them.

“That’s what we are supposed to do. Uche was one of us and we did what we was expected of us,” Okocha said.
Uche Okafor was murdered in his house in Texas January 6 and his teammates gathered in Owerri last Thursday to pay him last respect. They played a football match during the lying-in-state and were the pall bearers throughout, from Dan Ayiam Stadium to where he was committed to mother earth.

“If Uche wasn’t a nice person all of us would not be here today to pay him last respect,” Austin Eguavoen said in a tribute before the large crowd. He spoke on behalf of the players.

What struck me throughout the burial of Okafor was the comradery of this USA ‘94 squad. Clemens Westerhof, the man who coached them referred to them as a family. They still showed virtues of a good family in Owerri.

They ate together, cracked jokes and did everything together. The atmosphere at All Season Hotel where we all stayed was friendly although moody when it came to Uche matters. It was emotional when the players filled out against Imo All Stars. They had a full house. Alloy Agu, Ben Iroha, Emeka Ezeugo, Uche Okechukwu, Austin Eguavoen, Mutiu Adepoju, Samson Siasia, Jay Jay Okocha, Victor Ikpeba, Peter Rufai, Ike Shorunmu, Edema Fuludu, Austin Popo and Binebi Numa.

They opted to play 10 against 11 because they lost one person in the late Uche Okafor. Very thought-provoking. They entertained the fans during the match which ended 1-1 and mourned during the burial.

Uche was my friend, very close friend and it was sorrowful playing parts in his burial. I want to let Nigerians know that the Imo State Government as ably represented by sports commissioner, Dr. Mrs Ngozi Anyikwa and Director of Sports Godwin Agbarakwe, the Nigeria Football Federation and most importantly the National Sports Commission played great roles to honour Uche with a befitting burial.

Patrick Ekeji who once coached Uche did a lot. Noel Okorougu was wonderful.  Uche was given a great burial. May his soul and souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace.


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