By Henry Umoru & Joseph Erunke
ABUJA – A bill seeking to provide legal framework to the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, which replaced the Nigerian Football Association, NFA, passed second reading in the Senate, Wednesday.
The bill, tagged:”A Bill for an Act to Repeal the Nigerian Football Association, 2014 and enact the Nigeria Football Federation and other matters connected therewith, 2016, is being sponsored by Senator Obinna Ogba, PDP, Ebonyi Central.
The bill seeks to repeal the Nigerian Football Association Act 2010 and subsequently enact the Nigerian Football Federation.
In his lead debate, during plenary, Senator Ogba explained that the general principles of the bill was to repeal the Nigerian Football Association Act Cap N100 LFN2010 and to enact the Nigerian Football Federation Act.
He gave further explanations: “It has become necessary to repeal the extant Act because as it exists now, it requires a lot of amendments to bring it into agreement with FIFA requirements, international best practices and to give football the desired boost it requires in this country.”
According to him, “One of the highlights of the new bill bring presented to you is the membership of the federation. The new bill seeks to ensure that only those who are actually involved in competitive football matches are members of the federation and not just organizations and establishments as it is contained in the extant act. ”
He added:” Another feature of the bill is that provisions are made for the election of a president to lead the executive committee in the contrast to the contents of the extant act where governing body of the association is a board appointed from different organisations and such appointed persons elect a Chairman from amongst themselves.
” In the bill, the aspiring president is nominated by his or her state football federation and that nomination has to be endorsed by three members of the federation from other geo-political zones of the country. This broadens the selection base of the leadership of the federation.
“The general complaint of our footballers both foreign and home based is the quality of football management in the country. It is envisaged that with the passage of this bill, this country will experience an appreciable improvement in the management of football and that I am convinced, will ensure our football stays amongst the top 10 in the world.
“One will not easily forget the joy and pride that was brought to Nigerians in all walks of life with Nigeria winning the 2013 African Cup of Nations and it is desirous that this feat be repeated over and over in the near future.
. We cannot achieve this without a systematic development of game locally and nationally.
“We are aware that football brings joy, hope and expectations of brighter future.
“The bill seeks to establish modes of mandatory systematic development of soccer through institutional, age and gender competitions. It is my firm belief that with the passage of this bill, Nigeria will reclaim its envied position of being African number one football nation.
“As you are aware, football does not improve with the development of the players only. Coaches and referees have to be attended to also. As at now, no Nigerian has been privileged to officiate in any world cup game and this is attributed to the quality of our referees and indeed no referee officiated in the last African Cup of Nations in South Africa.
“It will be one of the functions of the federation to ensure the development of our referees with the objective of ensuring that Nigerian referees with objective of ensuring that Nigerian referees continually get involved in international competitions.
“Furthermore, minus Stephen Keshi who achieved the prestigious positions of being the second person in Africa to win the African Cup of Nations as a player and as a coach, there is no other Nigerian coach that is involved in coaching national teams outside Nigeria.
“It is my firm belief that with the passage of this bill, the federation will apply itself to the grading of coaches based on prevalent international standards, and then we may begin to see our coaches doing much better with our country football clubs and thus attracting international attention and willing assignments to coach national teams. ”