By Patrick Omorodion
The Nigerian football scene was in real mess after the 2010 World Cup. The NFF led by Sani Lulu Abdullahi was enveloped in scandals and the football fraternity had no option but to kick out the Lulu-led Board. However, one of Lulu’s lieutenant, Alhaji Aminu Maigari took over the helms.
The Board launched an attack on the leadership of the Nigeria Premier League and got its chairman, Davidson Owumi who was Vice President of the NFF impeached and his place taken by one of their loyalists, Rumson Victor Baribote.
However, along the line, Baribote also fell out with the Board and his removed was also plotted. But the Bayelsa-born administrator would not not let and so the league almost ran under with no sponsor agreeing to come near it.
When debonair sports minister and chairman, National Sports Commission, NSC, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi took over mantle of leadership, he sought ways to rconcile all the warring parties for the good of football in the country.
He put heads with the NFF leadership and together they agreed to bring somebody who is independent minded and can reach out to the corporate world to help lift the league that had run without a sponsor for over two seasons.
That was how Honourable Nduka Irabor, a man of many parts was dragged in to help salvaged the comatose league. However, before he accepted, he asked to be given free hand to run the league and reposition it for the corporate world to be interested in doing business with the Board.
Yours sincerely commended his coice at the time but asked whether he would be allowed the freedom he deserves to truly work. It did not take long for answers to be provided as Irabor and his team were atacked by ‘club owners’ for attempting to take food out of their mouth.
Irabor wanted them to run the clubs as truly professional sides. He wanted them to deposit a certain sum of money with the league Board from which players and coaches could be paid in case the clubs fail to pay them their salaries.
Irabor was again accused of taking over the league when he registered it as limited liability company. It took a truce meeting for the so-called owners who are nothing but managers holding the clubs in trust for state government who truly own and run them.
The League Management Company, LMC has also gone ahead to secure sponsorship for the league with the clubs pocketing about N10 million each, a departure from what had obtained in the previuos two seasons. The LMC has negotiated a mouth-watering television rights contract which will make the clubs richer once the contract begins to run.
Despite all these, the LMC felt that certains things are still not right with the league. Issues like hooliganism at league venues which has caused some matches to either be replayed or forced to be decided in the board became a thing of concern.
As a way to stem this tide to make the league much more acceptable to the corporate world, the LMC declared a state of emergency in the league, a decision the clubs did not quarrel with but the NFF president, Alhaji Maigari coountered it by declaring thatthere was no emergency in the league.
It seems everybody knows that all is not yet well with the Nigerian league except Maigari. So what is the LMC under Irabor going to do now that the NFF appears to want to scuttle its plan to truly reposition the Nigerian league for it to be attractive to the corporate world? Sidon look as the late Bola Ige would say.?
Jamboree visit again
Last Friday, the chairman House Committee on Sports, Godfrey Gaiya led a team to the National Stadium in Lagos on an on the spot assessment of the now abadoned national edifice that has been turned into an event centre
That was shortly after he accused the National Sports Commission, NSC of spending so much to regrass the Abuja National Stadium. Gaiya is supposed to be a lawmaker who should be making laws to improve sports in the country but is turning himself into an executive who should be implementing policies.
I know the bill to abrogate Decree 101 which has tied football administration to to the whims and caprices of the government is with the National Assembly but Gaiya and his colleagues have done very little on this till date.
Gaiya is always talking when it concerns football because House Committee members must be part of government delegations to competitions. His voice has never been heard when it concerns other sports like happened to basketball and cricket went to competitions like orphans when they actually carried the national flag at those competitions.
Gaiya and his colleagues should be preaching to government to hands off fotball and allow it run professionally and profitably or otherwise fund other sports properly like it is doing for football now.
I’ll end this piece by thanking former Falcons coach, Godwin Izilein for adding his voice to shenanigans of the NFF and the rumoured plot to oust Stephen Keshi. He believes Keshi would continue to succeed and his detractors put to shame permanently. I say Amen to it.