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That we may win next time

By Onochie Anibeze

Adekunle Salami has, in his column,  asked that the huge money they took to Sudan be refunded.
His grudge was that they knew it would be a wasted journey but they still embarked on it.

Yes, the minister of sports and chairman of the National Sports Commission Taoheed Adedoja led a delegation to Sudan to campaign for the replacement of Amos Adamu by Ibrahim Galadima  in CAF and FIFA Executive Committees.
Last week, I delved on this matter, bemoaning the ignorance our authorities showed. They made our  Vice President to write a letter to CAF President , Issa Hayatou, pleading that Ibrahim Galadima be allowed to replace Dr. Amos Adamu.

Hayatou told them that there was no vacancy. I’ll highlight on this later but for now Adekunle Salami seems to be making a point although he knows that nobody will refund any money. I’m incensed for a different reason. The money they took to Sudan for a Fire Brigade work on the elections could be enough to  prepare some athletes for the next year’s London Olympic Games. The money could go a long way in one or two development programmes. But  our sports administrators have their priorities. Developing sports does not appear to matter to them. The sports ministry lacks the money to carry out many programmes that could develop our sports. It’s amazing that they found money for Sudan. Whoever advised them to make CAF and FIFA elections a priority has not helped our sports especially considering the factors before the elections and the state of our various sports associations. I’m still waiting for Professor Adedoja to renovate sports facilities and add fire to the so called lesser sports as he promised.

Aside misplacement of priorities,  I have also decided to continue on last week’s topic because our  ignorance on the CAF and FIFA Executive Committee seats has not waned.

I still read comments suggesting that CAF denied Nigeria the chance to replace Dr. Amos Adamu in CAF. It is worst in the electronic media where presenters have misled the public, asking callers to air their views on the supposed CAF’s injustice to Nigeria. And the callers have responded on the basis of misinformation.

First, may I reiterate that Nigeria has no slot in CAF or FIFA and calling on these bodies  to replace Adamu with Ibrahim Galadima as a matter of Nigeria’s right or contributions to football was totally wrong. I write so that we may put our house in order and work to get Galadima or any other Nigerian  into these bodies. But developing our sports should be the priority of our authorities and not positions in CAF and FIFA. However, for the purpose of sharing information, let me continue on our Sudan blunder.

Dr Adamu was first elected into CAF in 2002 and was re-elected in Lagos two years ago. His tenure will end in 2013. Adamu was suspended from football by FIFA and not expelled. He has appealed against his suspension. If he wins his appeal he returns to CAF since his tenure is still on. If he loses,  CAF Executive Committee (Not the Congress), on the basis of Article 22 of their statutes, may elect somebody to complete his tenure.

It is not a must that the person to be so appointed or elected will be a Nigerian. And since Adamu was suspended and not expelled there may not be any such election. If the person Nigeria is presenting is not favoured by the Executive Committee members I don’t see how such a person can be appointed or elected. There’s nothing like a Nigerian slot to be occupied by a Nigerian. . If, Nigeria attracts sympathy consideration and CAF Executive Committee elects  a Nigerian for the remainder of the tenure the person will still go for election on completion of the tenure and if the person does not command votes in the Congress he loses, simple.

I have made this clear for our  people to understand that the politics of FIFA and CAF may not be different from the normal politics in normal polities where votes count. It is your ability to canvass for votes and not the name you parade or how popular you are. Expressing outrage over our inability to replace Adamu with Galadima is deep ignorance.  Nigerian government was not involved when Dr. Adamu won election. Government did not send delegation to Mali to lobby or campaign for him.

I’m not even sure that Nigeria even voted for Adamu. 2002 was the time of late Mark Aku as sports minister. There were personality issues. With only the likes of Mike Itemuagbor and Austin Akosa in Adamu’s train the man won the election. But he won his votes long before the Congress in Mali. He traveled to different countries and canvassed for votes. Kalusha Bwalya was elected in Sudan in his third attempt. Before Sudan, there was virtually no CAF event that he did not attend. He interacted well and made inroads. Nigeria sent a powerful delegation to the venue of the CAF Congress to appeal that Galadima be allowed to replace Adamu. What a blunder.  When they were told that there was no vacancy in CAF they concentrated on FIFA seat where Galadima lost but surprisingly polled up to five votes. Considering the time Nigeria decided to back him, that was impressive.
If our people knew that membership or replacement of a member of CAF or FIFA is not by substitution why did they scurry down to Sudan with funds that could have helped our sports in other ways? We are simply not getting our priorities right.

American record for Eagles
Nigeria’s Eagles have had so many bad friendly outings in the past. Once, we were in London for a friendly. On arrival, we did not see the organiser. The hotel said to have been booked for us had no information about payment. After long hours at the lobby, the then scribe of the FA implored his brother living in London to help and the Eagles had shelter. On match day, game was delayed because the money the organiser was meant to pay as advance fee was not paid. Nobody had a clue on what he was doing with the National team of Nigeria. It was a big shame. The match was to be called off but the players decided to play just for the sake of the game and for the assessment the FA wanted to make of the team. Terms of the contract were not met.

Once again in Italy, players protested against the standard of hotel and also wanted advance payment since they were not sure of the organisers. They refused to check into the hotel and stayed out in the bar and other open places till morning. I joined them in solidarity. Somehow, some appeasement was made and they played the game against Regianna. There have been so many other poor shows.

The worst of them all happened in USA last week where our team arrived for a tournament only to find out that the organiser had no match for them. They returned without playing a game. That’s a record.

My advice is that NFF should deal with tested agents who have integrity. When those players are out there, they fly the country’s flag. They represent Nigeria. Our name must not continue to be dragged in the mud. May this never happen again.


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