By Patrick Omorodion
Events of last week in Yenagoa have shown that those who profess to be managing the game of football in Nigeria are not prepared to make progress from the slide the game has taken these past years.
At a time all the stakeholders are looking for a way out of the crisis that has held the game and the league in particular down, some desperate football politicians who pretend to be administrators are creating more avenues for crisis.
First they told us that Davidson Owumi’s sin was that he was not eligible to contest for the position of the chairman of the Board of the Nigeria Premier League, NPL even though he was screened and considered eligible by a committee which the same NPL set up in the first place.
May be the the cabals writing out the script never considered him a threat to their candidate and allowed the election hold without any protest from them. When he however won, different arguments ensued, both the unserious and stupid.
Apart from his alleged ineligibility, they again frowned at his wisdom to contract the sponsorship of the league to a Telecom company, without due process, so they claimed. Invariably they were working for another Telecom company in which their sponsors have interest. They forgot that the same NPL on its own, discontinued with the first contract on the ground that the former sponsor did not keep to the contract terms.
After they succeeded in removing Owumi and dismantling the structure he put in place, they told the world that they wanted due process for another election to hold. But when one of the former candidates, Akin Akinbobola signified his interest to contest, the door was slammed against him.
Like a law abiding citizen, he protested to the appropriate authorities, which have refused till date to hear his appeal. The NFF led by Aminu Maigari pretended all was well in the NPL and refused to force the Appeals Committee to hearing the appeal.
No qualms, Akinbobola remained a loyal member and vowed to fight on to enforce his right by going to the Congress to state his own side of the story. What did he get, threat messages from the camp of his rival, who is turning an autocrat fast, warning him to steer clear of the congress ground in Yenagoa.
The Congress that saw most of the NPL Board members boycotting or walking out of the venue, rose up to slam an indefinite suspension on Akinbobola, dissolved the Appeals Committee that was supposed to hear his appeal, and equally dissolved the Electoral Committee that would have called for a fresh election if his appeals sails through. The Congress never bothered to know whether they had the right to suspend a Board member.
Funny enough, the same sponsor Owumi was accused of bringing in through the backdoor is what the ‘new’ Board has endorsed. So the problem was never the sponsor nor the manner of its acceptance, but Owumi who they felt was blocking the way of their candidate from mounting the throne.
The NPL crisis is not over yet as Akinbobola has said that if he receives any notice of his purported suspension, he may resort to other ways to seek redress. This may involve going to a regular court instead of the Court of Arbitration in Sports, which seems to be filled with loyalists of the contractors holding Nigeria’s football on the jugular, snuffing life out of it. If things remain the way they are presently, football in Nigeria will die a final death and be buried for good.