By Patrick Omorodion
The late Reggae crooner Peter Tosh sang a song which will make a lot of sense in the lingering crisis tearing Nigerian football apart today. That is, everybody talking about peace and nobody wants to talk about justice.
First Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima was removed as Chairman of the Nigerian Football Association, NFA, by a group sponsored by the former czar of Nigerian football. His stooges were installed who went on to doctor the football statutes to shut the door against other Nigerians.
When the National Association of Nigerian Footballers, NANF sort to right the wrongs, the Sani Lulu Board instigated Austin Popo, who broke out of NANF over struggle for power to form a splinter group, Association of Professional Footballers of Nigeria, APFON which it endorsed as the only recognised body of footballers.
NANF would not bulge and became angrier when, after the impeachment of the Sani Lulu Board, the rules were skewed to favour the Aminu Maigari-led group and so went to court to stop the election.
Despite the court order, the election went ahead and Maigari, as expected, emerged the winner. NANF went back to court where it was again ruled that the election was null and void. Maigari and co. in trying to defend themselves said they never got any court orders stopping the election, a lie they also told the FIFA representative who came to monitor the election.
That was the genesis of the football crisis that led to the NFF to depose to an affidavit in a Federal High Court in Lagos through one Oluwatosin Adisa that the NFF was a private organisation composed of state Football Associations, the league, players’ associations, the Nigerian Football Coaches Association and the Nigerian Referees’ Association.
This singular act caused the National Sports Commission, NSC, through the Director General, Chief Patrick Ekeji to seek an interpretation of such through the Solicitor-General and Permanent Secretary at the Federal Ministry of Justice who said that by such declaration, the NFF has “no legal basis to draw funds from the government for its activities.”
After the declaration, a group went ahead to declare themselves the authentic NFA, recognised by the Nigerian law and therefore, should be dealt with by the NSC on matters concerning football in the country, a situation that made the NSC to call for a truce by all the aggrieved parties.
This culminated in a reconciliation meeting held on October 23, 2010 in Abuja where NANF was mandated to withdraw its case from court, the NFF should bring NANF and APFON together as well as address the issue of reforms in football administration in Nigeria which was one of the grouses af NANF.
The NFF reneged on the agreement and this caused NANF to petition the Inspector General of police who made to seal off the NFF secretariat and arrest any of its officers who ventured to get access to the premises.
Aware of the implication of the IG’s order to Nigerian football by FIFA, the NSC DG wrote to the office of the IG on May 31, 2011 asking it to stay action on its order to seal off the NFF’s office to enable it (NSC) seek a solution to the crises.
It was therefore surprising that Popo went to the Senate public hearing to accuse the DG of the NSC, Chief Ekeji, Chief Segun Odegbami and Adokie Amiesimaka of fuelling the crises in football. He did not say how the Lulu Board sponsored him to create a division in the footballers body.
Nobody is talking about the truce that was reached and agreed to by concerned Nigerians and the football house represented by its top officials.
At the reconciliation meeting were Chief Ekeji as chairman, with some NFF Board memers like Aminu Maigari, Chris Green, Ibrahim Musa Gusau, Musa Amadu, NFF acting scribe, Deji Tinubu, Tayo Balogun, Harrison Jalla, Belo Aideloje, Chikelue Iloenyosi, Kadiri Momodu, former NFA scribe, Godwin Dudu-Orumen, Chidi Okenwa,, Olukayode Thomas, Dr. Kweku Tandoh and President General of the Nigeria Football Supporters Club, Dr. Rafiu Oladipo.
The NFF officials act as if nobody was wronged by the election that brought them into office.
For true peace to be attained in football, the football statutes must be made to be in line with what FIFA prescribes for all countries and not the one Lulu and his cohorts doctored to suit themselves and shut-out other Nigerians.
Like was done in most elections in the states were a re-run was ordered following irregularities, Alhaji Maigari should swallow his pride and allow a re-run of the NFF election on a level playing ground with re-modelled statutes open to any Nigerian who thinks he or she has what it takes to turn our football around. If he is elected again, then he can begin on a clean slate. That way true peace will return to Nigerian football.
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