By John Egbokhan

The Nigeria Olympic Committee has said that the Guidelines for elections into the boards of National Federations as released by the Ministry of Youth and Sports, do not conform with the Charter of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and International Sports Federations, to which Nigeria is a voluntary signatory.

Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung 

In the Guidelines released on April 13 in Abuja by Sports Minister, Barr. Solomon Dalung, any serving President, who has done two terms is not eligible to stand for re-election in the forthcoming elections while any current Nigerian member of an International Sports Federations is banned from contesting.

These contentious clauses, which Barr. Dalung said were agreed by stakeholders in Nigerian sports, summarily foreclosed incumbent NOC President, Habu Gumel from picking up a form to vie for the volleyball federation  election. Gumel, is the current President of the Nigeria Volleyball Federation and an Executive Committee member of the IOC.

Other top-ranking officials, affected by the ban include former Sports Minister and NOC President and current President of the Nigeria Tennis Federation, Sani Ndanusa, President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, Tijani Umar and President of the Nigeria Handball Federation, Yusuf Dauda.

Since Dalung dropped the bombshell last week in Abuja, varying views have been offered on the matter, with some waiting for the official position of the NOC, the body that relates with the IOC, who have zero tolerance for  unwieldy government interference.

And rising from its Executive Committee held yesterday in Lagos, the NOC said that any election conducted under the current guidelines as released by Dalung would not be certified by it and subsequently, would be rejected by the IOC.

Speaking to reporters after the Executive Committee meeting which lasted almost two hours, the Secretary-General of the NOC, Tunde Popoola said it was important for the guidelines to be in line with international best practices as preached by the IOC.

It appears that the NOC and the Sports Ministry are heading on a collision course over the contentious guidelines, which the former said it would not certify, no matter the pressure from top government officials.

Reading from a communique, Popoola said, “the NOC Executive Committee resolved that there should be a harmonious guidelines on national federation elections, in line with international best practices.

“The essence of this harmonious guidelines is to ensure that it conforms with the Charter of the IOC and the constitutions of the international sports federations.

“That the issue of  eligibility as contained in the Ministry’s Guidelines does not conform with the provisions of the IOC Charter and constitutions of international federations.

“That the provisions in the guidelines which forbid Nigerian international federations officers from holding offices in the national federations locally will inhibit opportunities of getting more Nigerians into international federations in the long run.

“That the composition of the Appeals Committee, as per the Ministry’s Guidelines, which comprises of mainly appointees of Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, with one NOC member is not in accord with the principles of fair hearing.

“The Executive Committee recommends that a team of independent persons be appointed as members of the Appeals Committee for purpose of fair hearing”, Popoola added.

The NOC scribe faulted Ministry’s guidelines that banned two-term Presidents from seeking a third term, arguing that, “the rule is that you are entitled to seek a first term of four years and subsequently, you can go for as many terms as possible that you wish to go for.

“That is what is in the IOC Charter and in the constitution of international federations and we made this point clear to them but were surprised that our advice was not taken. There is no way the guidelines can stand the test of time.

“There were meetings held between the Ministry of Sports and NOC , where we agreed that the Olympic Charter would be used but unfortunately, what we read was different from the recommendations”, added Popoola, who informed that the NOC will today be meeting the Sports Minister, alongside five sports federations presidents to thrash out all the contentious clauses in the guidelines.

“That is why all these grey areas have to be thrashed out so that we don’t go the way of attracting sanctions. If we are not a party to this election, the elected officials will not be recognised. But we will thread the path of discussion”, said Popoola.

He noted that there was a rapid departure from what was obtainable in the past, warning that the IOC was very serious with strict adherence to international best practices and would not  take lightly infractions that infringe on the rights of candidates to seek elective offices.

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