By Patrick Omorodion
AS Nigerians continue to savour the temporary relief granted football administration by the world’s governing body of the sport, FIFA, it is wise for all stakeholders as well as the three tiers of government to listen to the wise counsel of one of the legends of the game in Nigeria, Chief Adokiye Amiesimaka. The advice of some stakeholders is that the crisis of leadership in the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF which rears its head every four years when election of its officers are due would be laid to rest the moment the National Assembly passes the NFF Act which it has been working on over the years. Amiesimaka, former Green Eagles winger and former Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice in Rivers State, believes that an NFF created by an Act of the National Assembly would not end the crisis as being suggested in various quarters.
It is right to believe the one time Chairman of the defunct Sharks Football Club of Port Harcourt because even if the NFF Act comes into operation, the football house will not be free from interference of the government, the same way other organisations like the EFCC and the NYSC, among others, are not free from government interference.
According to Amiesimaka, FIFA does not want to be entangled in the politics of countries of its affiliates and therefore wants or prefers that the various federations affiliated to it be registered as Non Governmental Organisations which would be recognised by the laws of their countries but definitely not to be controlled by the government.
The ex player cum administrator of repute says: “The world football governing body doesn’t want to be entangled in politics of countries, so it recognises and deals directly with National Federations/Associations affiliated to it. Accordingly, FIFA expects such affiliates to be recognised by the Laws of their respective countries, but not to be created by them.
“That is why FIFA doesn’t want the football governing body in Nigeria to be established by an Act of the National Assembly. Rather, like FIFA itself in Switzerland, the football governing body in Nigeria should be incorporated as an Non Governmental Organisation, limited by guarantee under Part C of the Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA). That way, it will be duly recognised by our Laws.”
The famous Decree 101 which created the Nigeria Football Association, NFA and the subsequent creation of an NFA Bill which has refused to see the light of the day in the National Assembly with which football will be governed in Nigeria, is a deliberate act to keep football tied to government which sees football as a propaganda tool rather than business. Government officials and their friends who find their way in the corridors of football power will never want to let go football finally as it will amount to the end of free money for most of them, the reason why there is always conflict whenever it is time for a change of guard.
Former NFA Chairman, Anthony Kojo Williams, who incidentally is a member of the Elders Committee set up by controversial spoerts Minister, Solomon Dalung to help resolve the NFF leadership tussle, who spent under a 100 days in office told the world that football was a conduit pipe with which government officials siphon money into their private pockets under the pretence that it was used for the running of the game. If therefore football is allowed the desired freedom and government only supports it with grants while the NFF is incorporated as an NGO, wastages or better still, misappropriation will not only be curtailed, the incessant in-fighting will stop. The federation will then be run like an NGO and people will be willing to put in their money and also ask questions how the money is spent.
Once football loving individuals and corporate organisations know that the NFF is no longer under the control of government and that accountability will become the order of the day, they will be willing to support the game and the game will be the better for it. On the resolution of disputes whenever it arises, Amiesimaka says it should be through the Court of Arbitration for Spourts instead of the oridanary court as it is being currently experienced, adding that even though such a body was created some years ago with him as Chairman, it has remained moribund.
“Despite the setting up of an alternative sport-related disputes resolution body in Nigeria, NCAS (like CAS in Switzerland), since 25th May, 2012 the Committee appointed by the NOC of which I was Chairman had submitted a comprehensive report articulating the legal framework to establish such body in Nigeria,”Amiesimaka said, adding, “the implementation of that report would end the embarrassing cycle of taking sport-related disputes to regular courts and incurring the wrath of FIFA.”
If a Nigerian CAS has already been created by the Nigeria Olympic Committee, as Amiesimaka stated, then Nigerians should ask the NOC leadership while the implementation has remained stalled. But again, what can be expected from an NOC that is permanently tied to the apron string of the sports ministry which dictates to it what it wants as exhibited in the leadership dispute of another sport federation, the NBBF which governs basketball in Nigeria.
If the crisis in sports federations elections would die a natural death or curtailed, then the counsel of Chief Amiesimaka must be hearkened to. Sports Federations should be allowed to be governed by Statutes which aligns with that of their various world bodies. That way no sports minister would come and create unnecessary tension like Dalung has succeeded in doing so far.