By Patrick Omorodion
Then comes the Sports Minister, Alhaji Bolaji Abdullahi … Let history record and properly too that the arrival of the youthful minister signaled the end of bitter rancour in the Nation’s football house…
This was taken from Paul Bassey’s column in the Vanguard of Monday, November 18, 2013 titled: Take a bow Nigerians, Pop Champagnes…, Klink Glasses. Bassey was celebrating the revival of Nigeria’s football through the Golden Eaglets World Cup win, the Super Eagles World Cup qualification and their earlier Nations Cup victory in South Africa early this year.
He attributed this to the trouble shooting efforts of the sports minister which gave the Nigeria Football Federation the relative peace to run football the way it should be. He praised the NFF Board led by Aminu Maigari. Earlier after the Eaglets’ win, some close stakeholders had even called for a second term and national award for Maigari.
While we are still savouring the victories of our national teams, we should not gloss over some unresolved issues around our football which makes me disagree with Paul Bassey that the bitter rancour in our football has truly ended.
Unknown to many, while the NFF Board members were beating their chest in celebration, Justice Okon Abang was issuing a fresh order that they appear before him to justify why they are still parading themselves as football administrators.
This, according to the president of the National Association of Nigerian Footballers, NANF, Harrison Jalla, they must do on December 9, 2013. That day may signal the end of the Maigari Board and his quest for a second term because “we have delivered” which is now his swan song.
According to Jalla, the NFF or NFA which is the only known body to Nigerian laws, has no Board because the earlier ruling that election should not hold was flouted by Maigari and co. and Justice Abang insists it must be obeyed.
He argued that the former Inspector General of Police, Hafiz Ringim dilly dallied on the issue but the present IG, Mohammed Abubakar has been cooperating even though he is slow about it. The pressure to obey the court ruling is believed to be coming from the presidency which has asked the Chief of Staff to the president, Chief Mike Oghiadomhe to ensure the laws of the country are obeyed. Except something extra ordinary happens between now and December 9, the Maigari Board may cease to exist and football could be run by a caretaker comm-ittee.
Apart from this legal tango Maigari has found himself, there is the other issue of breach of trust with Total Promotion, the outfit that agreed to hands off the Title sponsorship of the Premier League but still has the broadcast right which the NFF and the League Management Company, are still trying hard to snatch from it. From records, it is clear that Maigari has many faces in the matters of the legal tussle with NANF and the Title/Broadcast right palaver with Total Promotion.
In one breadth, Maigari says he is president of the NFF, in another he prefers to be called Chairman of the NFA, when it comes to collecting money from the Federal Government which says the NFF is not recognised by law and so can’t be funded.
He had even gone to swear to an affidavit that he is not Chairman of the NFA when NANF took the body to court over the election which the court stopped the body from conducting. Surprisingly too, Maigari in an agreement with the LMC to run the league, failed to sign as NFF president or as NFA chairman but as a ‘football admini-strator’ who holds a certain percentage of the shares of the LMC, making some stakeholders to ask in whose interest are the shares being held?
The LMC has come out to say that the new league season will kick off after the African Nations Championships in January but if these issues are not ironed out, including the grievances earlier expressed by club owners or club chairmen immediately after the 2012/2013 season ended, a fresh crisis may hit our local football. The stance of the NFF and the sports minister who castigated the club chairmen over their request that the LMC should fold up and prepare ground for an election of a new executive to run the league is not the panacea for the imminent crisis the league may run into again.
By also pretending that the bitter rancour in the Nation’s football house, which Paul Bassey wrote about, is over is tantamount to sweeping the matter under the carpet. It amounts to beating the child and asking him or her not to cry out.
The earlier these issues are tackled headlong and justice is allowed to reign, the peace we think we have could just be the peace of a grave yard.
Anybody still doubting Keshi
If the Sani Lulu-led board of the NFF had foresight, Stephen Keshi and not Shaibu Amodu would have been contracted after the exit of Berti Vogts in 2008. Even when Amodu was shown the way out after another Golden Bronze perfor-mance at the 2010 Nations Cup in Angola, the same Lulu-Board didn’t consider Keshi but went for Siasia because according them, Nigerians yearned for Siasia. Siasia crashed with the Eagles who couldn’t qualify for the Nations Cup in Equatorial Guinea/Gabon and so Keshi was finally considered by the Maigari group who later turned against their own employee who dared to ask for his right.
In the process, one of them, who claims to have run a club successively, queried Keshi’s pedigree in coaching, claiming the victory in South Africa was made possible by the NFF Board. Keshi has gone beyond all that to qualify Nigeria for the CHAN in South Africa, the first time ever and capped it with the World Cup qualification. Are they, including some Nigerian fans who love to hate the Illah-born coach, still doubting Keshi’s pedigree? He did it with little Togo, he has done it again with Nigeria. His next target, I believe, is to surpass Cameroon, Senegal and Ghana’s World Cup quarter-final performances. Who says it is not possible?