Checking hooliganism in the League

My late dad, Pa Robinson Oriabor Omorodion once told his kinsmen from Ekpon at one of their meetings in Lagos in the 1960s that they should always try to carve a niche for themselves anywhere they find themselves.

His quote “Make yourself important” became his nickname all through his life time, and even till today his admirers call me son of ‘Make yourself important’. That is exactly what Kano-born administrator, Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima has done. He has carved a niche for himself and thereby made himself important, not only in his home state, but in Nigeria at large.

The name Galadima is synonymous with uprightness, integrity, proficiency, thoroughness and what have you. That is why he has remained eternally indispensable and has been in and out of positions as an astute sports administrator.

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At the national level, Alhaji Galadima has been variously appointed into offices in the Nigeria Olympic Committee, NOC, the Nigeria Football Association, NFA   as well as the Ministry of Youth and Social  Development where he continues to serve in various committees to investigate various cases of maladministration and proffering solutions to correct the malady bedevilling sports in the country.

As I write this, Galadima is the present Chairman of the Kano State Sports Commission. He had also served as the state’s commissioner for sports at a time and it is on record that under him, Kano blossomed as a force to be reckoned with in sports like basketball, volleyball, handball and judo to mention just a few.  

Just as last week was winding down, the state governor, Alhaji Abdullahi Ganduje, who once  served as commissioner with Alhaji Galadima under a military governor in the 1990s and has constantly found his former colleague and friend as an asset to manage the sports sector, found it necessary to once again draft him to step in as acting Chairman of the state’s football team, Kano Pillars.

Why, one may ask as the football season is almost over with just three Matchdays   to go. The football club, former champions of the premier league, the NPFL are struggling for survival, being 13th on the log and the officials are desperate to win every match now to avoid the drop into the harder lower division.

To this end, the club’s chairman, Surajo Yahaya  went overboard and took laws into his hands. In full glare of the world, Yahaya physically assaulted an assistant referee, Daramola Olalekan, in their home match against Dakkada FC of Uyo last month.

No matter the offence of the assistant referee, Yahaya had no right to walk to the official and land him a ‘dirty slap’. There are avenues of seeking redress when referees are believed to have manipulated a football match to favour one team against another. Resulting to jungle justice, which the slapping of the assistant referee was, is never the answer. This is the same jungle justice Nigerians condemned when a student was killed in Sokoto recently and her body set on fire for an alleged blasphemy.  

Jungle justice or taking laws into our hands should be condemned, whether it is in sports or any other sector of our national life.  

However, the way offenders are punished by the League Management Company, LMC which administers the Premier League, may be responsible for why officials and sometimes players take laws into their hands by assaulting match officials and in some cases, sports journalists.

So far the LMC has punished Kano Pillars with a fine for their role in the fracas that ensued in the said match while their Chairman has also been expelled from the NPFL. Governor Ganduje added to the Chairman’s woes by sacking him and replacing him with Alhaji Galadima.

Offences like disrupting of matches and insulting referees could attract punishments like fines, temporary suspensions and banishment of clubs to neutral grounds and sometimes playing behind closed doors. Definitely not a physical assault that was televised and seen around the world which not only brought the game to disrepute but equally   portrayed the country   in bad light.

If a player, West Ham defender Kurt Zouma could face legal action for kicking and slapping a cat in his private residence, I don’t see why a man who publicly assaulted his fellow man could just be sacked and fined only and it ends there.

Even if the assistant referee who was assaulted doesn’t want to sue Yahaya, the LMC or the Police should take a legal action against him to serve as deterrent to others who may want to do same in future.

Until both the LMC, offended officials and even the Police start taking legal actions against barbaric officials, hooliganism by fans, players and their officials may never stop. These offenders need to spend months or years behind bars to check the incessant acts of barbarism exhibited by unruly fans and club officials at our match venues.

Lastly, with the cult image Alhaji Galadima has in Kano, I will urge him to use his goodwill as one loved by Kano citizens, including the teeming fans of their football club to calm them down whenever they play at home or on away grounds because they have consistently incurred the wrath of the LMC over their acts of hooliganism in recent times.

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