•Current board planned to stay till Feb 2023, attend Qatar World Cup, next Nations Cup
By Jacob Ajom
F or ex-Nigeria internationals and Players’ union who have been clamouring for change in the administration of football in the country, the signs of victory look evident, even before the elective congress of the Nigeria Football Federation billed for September, 2022.
They are aware that to attain the desired change in the administration of football in the country, the constitution of the board of the Nigeria Football Federation has to change.
To change the way the board is at present constituted, former players and other stakeholders went to court to halt the elective congress of the NFF, insisting that the NFF Statutes must be amended to allow for more and equitable representation of all stakeholders.
They eventually secured an interlocutory injunction from a High Court in Bayelsa State which stopped any further step towards holding the congress until the case before it was decided.
The move by concerned stakeholders which resulted in a court injunction was almost turning into an irony as it provided an alibi for the NFF board. “They(board members) wanted to hide under the injunction, delay the congress and ultimately delay the election which is expected to usher in a new board,” a source told this reporter, adding that the board members held a zoom meeting and perfected their plan to stay put till February 2023.
“They wanted to go to Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup and the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast in January next year. That is why they were indifferent to the court injunction that stopped the congress.”
Even more uncomfortable for the board was what one observer termed as “the insurgency” within the NFF structure which saw 28 state FA Chairmen, traditionally deemed to be lackeys to the board, revolt by passing a vote of no confidence in the NFF leadership.
“That was an additional headache to the NFF,” our source said under anonymity. More astonishing was the fact that the state FA chairmen signed the resolution by appending not only their signatures but had their passport pictures affixed to their names and signatures. This jolted the NFF leadership but they kept their plans under wraps as they had their plan to stay longer than their tenure.
The dissident FA Chairmen were having a field day as they insisted that a change was inevitable for Nigerian football to move forward.
Reading the mood of the NFF board members, the players’ association applied a master stroke when it petitioned the presidency, intimating the President of the discrete disposition of the NFF towards the September election.
Early this week, President Muhammadu Buhari, through the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development reacted to the petition with a directive to the NFF to ensure that they don’t flout their own statutes and advised that the September election is held as scheduled.
“Their plan to hang on was burst by President Buhari’s directive that they hold elections,” our source said, adding that “the court order under which they were hiding will be vacated soon. I wonder where they will run to now.”
Apart from ensuring that the election is held, the President also directed that the NFF Statutes must be amended to accommodate other real football stakeholders who were either under represented or were not represented at all on the board.
We gathered that with President Buhari’s directive, the NFF has now been thrown off balance while the stakeholders will now have a say in football matters and be part of what happens next.
“For instance, they have reached an agreement that certain conditions must be respected before the elective congress. In legal terms it is called consent judgment,” our source said, even as he would not reveal the conditions although we gathered that it is about constitution of the board.
Given the new twist in the election saga, a member of the ex-footballers union, Harrison Jallah confirmed to Sports Vanguard that the process to vacate the court injunction was underway.
He said, “We are working on getting that order suspended or discontinued with completely, pending when the congress is held and the amendments we asked for are done. When we achieve that, then we can proceed to the elections. That is the position for now.”
Jallah continued, “There is a compromise now that we go and get the case out of the court which we are preparing to do now. We are looking at the whole of next week and I believe by the end of next week we will be through with that procedure.”
He further informed us what their petition to the presidency contained. “We informed that under the present statutes every member has equal status in the assembly but a particular member twerked the statute to suit his interest. For instance, there are 44 members in the congress and when you have 37 FA Chairmen, in every election they will have a majority. As I speak to you, they are 11 on the board out of 15 members. The other 4 are taken by the clubs that represent the leagues.”
Government’s subtle moves, we gathered were deliberate in order not to be seen as interfering in the internal affairs of the football governing. This, Jallah concurred. “All the government has done is simply telling football stakeholders, ‘no, we don’t want this under representation in the assembly to continue and the football family to go and resolve your differences. But in all you do, the September date for the election remains sacrosanct.”