President Goodluck Jonathan will possibly be spoken of with immense love and admiration by his country men and women, and the rest of the world for a long time to come. He demonstrated an unusual candour and statesmanship by showing himself as a true democrat, and as a man of honour in the just concluded March 28 Presidential Elections.
His unprecedented decision to concede defeat in the election, and to congratulate his main rival at the polls, General Muhammadu Buhari, even with a result of a state (Borno), yet to be announced by the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has earned him a place in history as a man who places his love for his fatherland above personal and other primordial considerations. For a leader who has consistently maintained that the blood of any Nigerian was not worth his ambition or that of any other politician, nothing could underscore his disposition better than his exemplary conduct and patriotism which went a long way to douse tension in the land and to put those doomsday prophets of the disintegration of this country to shame.
His sterling conduct, and of course his opening up of democratic space which allowed the opposition to thrive, is enough to earn him the Nobel Peace Prize. But before he leaves, there is an issue which has consistently been brought to his attention and the public domain, which he should endeavour to address: The issue of N2.8billion which a former President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Alhaji Sani Lulu Abdullahi said his board left in the coffers of the Federation before Alhaji Aminu Maigari-led Board took over. This and other issues bothering on corruption at the Glass House, the headquarters of the NFF, have remained a sore point in the administration of the game in the country.
Sadly, it seems nothing has been done to stem it, even in the face of outcry from the public. It is a tragedy of our time that many people have come to see the NFF, as a Cash Cow for all those who are running the Glass House. I had cause to write a few weeks ago on how this matter is being unjustly swept under the carpet by the powers- that- be. The issue has continually been echoed by a man who was in the saddle at the Glass House himself for four years: Alhaji Abdullahi who was president of the NFF from August 2006-July 2010. The former NFF president had in various public statements and even letters to Mr President; calling for an inquest on what happened to the colossal amount he left in the coffers of the NFF appeared to have sadly fallen on deaf ears. The man , since five years he left office has consistently maintained that his persecution and prosecution today is an aberration because those who stole the country’s football money are walking free and tall on the streets while he that managed the country’s soccer with Spartan dedication and discipline is being persecuted, out of malice ostensibly because of his refusal to be used as a pawn to siphon the commonwealth by some of the country’s sports leaders in the course of his service to the nation. For a man who met a debt of N300 million on assumption of office, to leave such a staggering amount [N2.8billion Naira] at the time he was removed in controversial circumstances deserves a better deal. In one of his statements, Alhaji Abdullahi, who holds the exalted title of Omachi AttaIgala said that contrary to the report of Senator Heineken Lokobori, who was the Senate Committee Chairman on sports who alleged at a public sitting that his NFF-led Board mismanaged N 2.16 Billion, “the truth is that the total sum of approximately N2.8 Billion was left in the various accounts as at the time of my impeachment.’’
According to the former President of the NFF, the amount in question includes $8m[or N 1,248,000,000] of the exchange rate at that time: which was an amount due from Nigeria’s participation in the 2010 FIFA World Cup Finals in South Africa; $5.5m[N858,000,000] the marketing funds remitted to the NFF by FIFA which was lodged in NFF/LOC account in First Bank; while funds in the FIFA account was put at $1.65m[N257,400,000], and the NFF money available in UBA and Afribank was N430,000,000. That was not all. Alhaji Abdullahi said that the Presidential Task Force [PTF] set up to raise money for Super Eagles’ 2010World Cup Finals in South Africa by the late President Musa Yar’Adua should also account for “over One Billion Naira [N1b] realised from funds generated for the 2010 African Nations Cup and 2010 World Cup because it is evidenced that none was remitted to my led-board for the budgeted purpose. The Task Force was headed by Rotimi Amaechi, theoutgoing governor of Rivers State. “.He is unequivocally demanding among other things: that the NSC/NFF should account for the two billion and eight hundred million Naira (N2.8b), he generated and left behind before his impeachment; and that “PTF should make public presentation the statement of account of over One Billion Naira[N1b] realised from funds generated for the 2010 Africa Nations Cup and World Cup, because it is evidenced that none was remitted to my led Board for the budgeted purpose.” What is more, according to the Omachi Atta Igala one of the areas his detractors employed campaign of calumny and even defamation against him was the controversy stirred by the missing $236,000[two hundred and thirty six thousand US dollars], for which his administration was ridiculed by the public and a section of the media. But his Board was vindicated eventually as a result of a court ruling absolving him and his Board of any wrong dealings. Instead the court ruled that the money was missing due to “security negligence”.
What is more, the former NFF president has consistently maintained that for an administration that met an empty treasury, with a debt of more than three hundred million Naira [N300m] at the time they assumed office in August 2006 deserves to be commended after leaving close to N3billion Naira in the accounts of the NFF even in the face of their forceful removal from office to pave way for their acolytes to come and squander the money left behind. I had maintained in my write up that if our society is to have zero tolerance for the hydra-headed monster, the likes of Lulu Abdullahi should have been hailed and celebrated for successfully managing the affairs of the corruption- riddled body like the NFF, instead of being persecuted just because he refused to allow some of his erstwhile bosses in the NSC have their ways in the looting of the Glass House.
Lulu, before assuming the office of NFF leadership had built an enviable, illustrious career in football circle and in the building industry. He brought his wealth of experience in the football industry and the great advantage of serving impeccably as Director of Sports FCTA and as a fellow of Quantity Surveyors of Nigeria,to bear inhis prudent and transparent administration of the beautiful game at the Glass House.
It is on record that Lulu honoured Isa Hayatou, the President of the Confederation of African Football [ CAF] following his plea for him to withdraw his case on his impeachment which did not follow due process with the Court of Arbitration for Sports[CAS] ; while the Alhaji Aminu-Maigari-led NFF was to vacate his impeachment and of course withdraw the court case against him. It is known to all that the NFF board went ahead to implement the vacation of his impeachment while still they have unfortunately left his case with EFCC to linger. Before he was prevailed to withdraw his case, the NFF Congress which met in Uyo, Akwa Ibom, had resolved that: “the decision of 09/07/2010 concerning impeached Sani Lulu, Mazi Amanze Uchegbulam and Taiwo Ogunjobi be vacated. Similarly it was resolved that all members of the Football Family having any football matter pending in ordinary court, should proceed to withdraw same in the spirit of sportsmanship , while imploring the Executive Committee to open a channel of communication in resolving such disputes including the matter in CAS with former members of its Executive Committee.”
Lulu, had in one of his letters to Mr President stated that: “In pursuit of justice we followed due process in accordance with FIFA/NFF statues by formally challenging all these allegations and illegalities up to the level of the International Court of Arbitration on Sports {CAS} in Zurich. We only withdrew this in February 2011, because of respect for Hayatou and in the national interest. For the sake of fairness and equity, the agreements reached with the CAF leadership , especially as they relate to withdrawal of all cases in court, including the one against Lulu, Uchegbulam and Ojo-Oba instituted by the EFCC, should be honoured, while the issue of the more than N2.8 billion Naira left in the coffers of the NFF should be looked into and handled with all diligence and dispatch by President Jonathan..With this he will leave an indelible mark in the sands of time.
Mr Nwabuko is an Abuja-based social commentator

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