Peace Of The Graveyard
To the average Nigerian football follower, the unfolding events in the administration of the country’s football especially at the secretariat of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF is not a surprise.
But for authorities at the NFF, they would forever remain grateful to Anyim Pius Anyim, the Secretary to Government of the Federation, SGF, who brokered peace between warring groups in the country’s football. This magazine scooped that the present sports minister, Bolaji Abdullahi, who is on a rescue mission, had facilitated the peace move which brought the parties together. This is after successive sports ministers failed to achieve peace.
Director-General of the National Sports Commission, Dr Patrick Ekeji; NFF President Aminu Maigari; NFF scribe, Musa Amadu and Barrister Ray Nnaji, and Dr. Sam Sam Jaja, who instituted lawsuits against the NFF, were also available to sign the peace deal. All parties agreed to terminate all court processes and not to enforce a recent court judgement obtained by Dr. Jaja, while the NFF would accommodate the eminent persons in ways stated in the resolutions. Meanwhile, Jaja has been appointed honourary member of the NFF executive committee.
This is not the first time that we have heard people talk about peace deals as a necessary solution to the squabbles plaguing Nigerian football. But this time, it appears the conditions spelt out would be followed to the later. Federation of International Football Association, FIFA, has also been communicated on the outcome of the peace meeting and the withdrawal of all litigations hitherto bedevilling football in the country.
Trouble started in 2005 when the Galadima- led board of the Nigeria Football Association, NFA, summoned a congress in Kano to elect new officials. At the end of the exercise, Ibrahim Galadima, the then incumbent NFA chairman was re-elected to lead the board.
But barely a week after the congress, about 80 delegates from 29 states gathered in Abuja. This time around, their aim was to invalidate the Kano congress through an extraordinary congress. The meeting declared that the Galadima - convened congress in Kano lacked transparency and legality, and could therefore not be termed a valid exercise deserving any recognition. It therefore dissolved the electoral committee that organised the Kano elections and set up a new one charged with conducting fresh elections on or before February 17, 2006.
At this time, the Sports Ministry headed by the then sports minister, Ismaila Sambawa, had given his blessing to the extraordinary congress which also had the then Federation of International Football Associations, FIFA secretary, Urs Linsi in attendance. At the end of the surprising congress, another board led by Sani Lulu emerged, thereby making it difficult to know the authentic board of the NFA as both claimed to have been elected by the congress to manage the football in the country.
Perhaps, only FIFA could intervene but with the intervention of the Sports Ministry, Lulu forged ahead as the authentic chairman of NFA. To have done otherwise would have exposed the country to the sanctions, among which would be ban from participating in international tournaments. Galadima had relinquished his position to allow Nigeria participate in the 2006 Africa Nations Cup hosted by Egypt. It was a sacrifice done to also avert the ultimate punishment of FIFA for the country. Galadima’s action succeeded in creating division among football stakeholders as his loyalists vowed to fight on.
The threat manifested in 2010 after Lulu, who forced Galadima out of office, was impeached by his board members. Super Eagles poor performance at the 2010 World Cup was the reason given for his impeachment. FIFA suspension of Amos Adamu over bribery allegation compounded the problem of football in the country. It was as if Nigerian football would explode.
Both the U-23 male football team and the Super Falcons, failed to qualify for the London 2012 Olympics. Nigeria also failed to qualify for the 2012 Africa Nations Cup hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea. This was 17 years after the Super Eagles lifted the trophy in Tunisia in 1994. These were believed to be fallouts of oppositions mounted against Aminu Maigari, which was necessitated by his election.
At this juncture, the National Assembly stepped in to lend a helping hand to the NFF in finding a lasting peace. This manifested last week when the House of Representatives Committee on Sports conducted a one day public hearing on a bill for Act to repeal the NFA Act Cap 110 laws of the federation of Nigeria 2004 and enact the NFF Act to provide for the administration of the game of football in Nigeria and for related matters.
Chairman of the House Committee on Sports, Godfrey Gaiya, said the development was in realisation of the need to put a stop to the distractions faced by the Glasshouse in administering football in the country. Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, Senator Adamu Gumba disclosed that the Upper Chamber was also interested in seeing that enduring peace returned to the Glasshouse. It has also fixed its own public hearing to facilitate the passage of the new NFF Act.
The legislators one after another bared their minds on the expectation of the Act when it is activated. Apart from Sam Sam Jaja, every other person spoke in favour of the bill. According to Jaja, the fight was not about the change in nomenclature from NFA to NFF but about money, control of the football system and power. He sees the fight as the control of billions of naira and dollars accruing to the federation, as well as control of money from corporate sponsors that are hardly accounted for.
However, the warring parties would be happy that peace has been achieved but would also want to see accountability hold sway in the Glasshouse so as to endear corporate sponsors to the system.