The ‘Glass House,’ as the Nigerian Football Federation headquarters is called, is again up in crisis. The crisis emanated from selfish interest of individuals and groups who want to exert control over the operations and finances of the association and not over the future of football.
Unfortunately, this is happening at an inauspicious time when the fate of football in Nigeria is threatened by abysmal performance of our national male team, the Super Eagles, at international tournaments
Rather than focus attention on repositioning the team, the leaders are busy fighting over primordial issues, with board members factionalised between Amaju Pinnick and Chris Giwa leading the fronts.
The current leadership crisis at the NFF could be traced to four years ago when the football federation became autonomous to conduct its own elections without government interference.
A faction led by Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima held an election in Kano where Galadima emerged the chairman, but suffered setback as it was annulled for no just course.
On the other hand, Alhaji Sani Lulu Abdullahi emerged the chairman from a congress organised in Abuja backed by government. Within few months in office, Sani Lulu changed the nomenclature of the football house from Nigeria Football Association to Nigeria Football Federation, and he became the first ever president. He doctored the status regulating football in Nigeria and many associations such as referees, coaches, Sports Writers Association, army, police and other professional associations were shut out from participating in football activities and since then, Nigerian football has been bedevilled with one crisis to another.
And in 2010 following the impeachment of Sani Lulu, Alhaji Aminu Maigari who took over as acting president conducted an election adjudged to be the mother of high level manipulations and alleged to have been characterised by massive corruption and irregularities. Aggrieved parties went to court and that marked the beginning of court cases in Nigerian football and the eventual threat by FIFA to ban Nigeria at any little quagmire, misunderstanding and provocation.
What cannot be overlooked is the insincerity of the presidency that has not only played lopsided politics in deciding who emerges as president of NFF, even as the appointment of green horns as minister to administer sports in the country has not helped matters.
Most pathetic was the inconsistency displayed by the immediate past minister, Dr Tamuno Danagogo who supported the Chris Giwa-led faction and was himself present at Chida Hotel where Giwa was elected as president, only to back out following directives from the presidency to support Amaju Pinnick who emerged president from the September 30 election in Warri, in violation of a court order straining the conduct of such election.
With the two warring factions threatening fire and laying claim to the presidency of NFF, it’s pertinent that common sense be allowed to prevail knowing that Nigerian football and Nigerians are the ones to suffer the consequences, which had already started with the Super Eagles’ ouster from the African Cup of Nations for the second time in quick secession.
While some followers of what is happening at the NFF have called for government intervention and amicable resolution of the crisis because of preparations for the 2018 FIFA world cup in Russia, others are of the opinion that the rule of law should prevail by allowing the court processes to be exhausted to put an end to future occurrence.
It is necessary at this critical time to work out a harmonious working relationship between the two warring factions.
While we are not in support of cancelling the election of Amaju Pinnick because we are in a world cup year, we do not support his decision to doctor the status to block the Giwa faction from future elections. We are of the view that modalities be worked out to accommodation Giwa’s board and others that may be interested in contributing to the development of the game.
Of importance is the need for government to call those using FIFA to threaten Nigeria to order. To those ignorant of football governing rules, article 1.1 of FIFA Statute and Article 1.1 of NFF Statutes are very clear on the issue. Both organisations admitted to subservience of national laws of nations.
In the case of FIFA, it agrees to be subservient to Swiss states: “The Federation Internationale de Football Association, FIFA, is an association registered in the commercial register in accordance with art. 60 ff. of the Swiss civil code.
Also, article 1.1 of the NFF Statue states: “Nigeria Football Federation is a private organisation of an associative in nature in compliance with the laws of Nigeria. It is formed for an unlimited period.
In the light of the above, there are many cases where civil issues in the management of football have gone to local court of the land, the federation with the most recent being that of Egypt where a court sacked the football association.
Finally, we call on the federal government to immediately halt this drift to the abyss. The Minister of Sports should rise up to the occasion and stop playing the ostrich. This mess must stop. We are not interested in which faction is genuine or not. If it is a fresh election so be it, but government must stop the crisis once and for all.