NFF elections: many football players welcome FG’s intervention

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Most stakeholders in the Nigerian football community have praised the federal government for stepping in to avert another crisis looming ahead of the 2022 Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) elections.

As has been the case over the years, the country’s football fraternity has always been plunged into a protracted crisis before and after each election year.

To prevent the recurring incident, on June 17, the Federal Government, through the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, wrote to NFF President Amaju Pinnick and ordered him to ensure that that the 2022 NFF election be held no later than the expiration of the term of the current Board in September 2022.

The government also ordered that the governing instrument of football in the country, the NFF statutes, be amended to include other stakeholders, who had hitherto been disenfranchised or denied equal representation at the NFF Convention.

The federal government’s action was reportedly necessitated by tension that continued to mount over what is seen in most quarters as Pinnick’s ploy to run for a third term that he previously denounced.

Although the presidential directive did not exempt the incumbent NFF president from running in the 2022 election, there appears to be disenchantment among some members of the executive committee as they feel the action was aimed at them.

Moreover, even before the government order, an uneasy calm reigned among NFF congressmen, as at least 28 of them had opposed Pinnick in an attempt to scuttle his alleged third-term ambition.

To achieve their goal, they have teamed up with certain forces like the Project 2022 task force led by Harrison Jalla to keep the pressure on Pinnick and his “loyalists” out of the Dankaro Sunday greenhouse in Abuja.

Therefore, when the federal government proposed the directive, sympathizers of the NFF president immediately concluded that it was an order from the side of the enemy. They are therefore from the point of view unrepentant who risks banning from FIFA.

However, some well-informed stakeholders who have spoken out on the matter have denied any discussion of FIFA’s ban as they have said the government’s action was intervention but not interference. According to them, the government did not breach any FIFA statutes or regulations to justify sanctions.

Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima, former president of the Nigerian Football Association (NFA) at the time, said those who rode on the backs of the government in positions of authority should stop talking about interference even when the same government exercises its oversight functions.

“We have to look at this from different angles. First, the issue of interference is misunderstood. It is safer for us to call it government intervention.

“It’s an intervention that’s not even the best thing that should happen because normally the government shouldn’t have to ask the federation to hold their elections but that’s the situation we found ourselves in.

“The uncertainty or inability to hold the elections is what caused people to sound the alarm which led to the government directive. The government only said to call a congress and make it inclusive.

“Inclusiveness is a long-standing issue. When I was president, we had about 100 members of Congress, but later it was reduced to 44. So people are now questioning the rationale behind the decision to reduce the number that left out many more people.

“People always talk about government interference, but they forget that they used the same government to gain power. So when the government was working to get you elected to different positions, what was it called?

Galadima therefore called for a return to grassroots football development, as he observed that most state football association presidents have lost their usefulness.

A former NFA general secretary at the time, Dr Tijani Yusuf, also expressed disappointment with those who perceived the recent government order on the NFF as interference.

He said whoever pays the piper should be allowed to dictate the melody. University Don insisted that rather than condemning, every real player in football should applaud the government for waking up the NFF.

“It’s not interference. It’s sad that when it comes to this issue, they call it interference. But when it comes to money matters, it’s not interference It’s very ridiculous, very ridiculous It’s negative thinking.

“The government pays the salaries of your staff. The government pays for your accommodation, but you claim to be independent. Where is the autonomy?

“What the government has done is something that should be welcomed even by FIFA. I don’t think FIFA encourages abuse of power and disorder. The government has only reminded the NFF to hold their elections as scheduled.

“So where is the interference people are talking about? They have excluded many stakeholders and the government is saying no to them. Where is the interference? he asked rhetorically.

Fear of a FIFA ban was further quelled by a leading legal luminary and football administrator, lawyer Paul Edeh, who argued that the Minister of Sports was carrying out his oversight role without breaching any article of the NFF statutes.

“Well, I believe the Minister has acted within his prerogative as the official responsible for all matters relating to sport in Nigeria by directing the Chairman of the NFF to follow the provisions of the NFF Statutes and Rules of FIFA and nothing more.

“His letter urged the President of the NFF to hold elections in accordance with the provisions of the statutes which nominated him. How can that be interference? He was just reminding the NFF president to do his duty.

“Whether the Minister writes or not, the President of the NFF is bound to follow the statutes in ensuring that the election is held in September. Assuming elections are not held in September as scheduled, the statutes also provide for interim leadership until an election is held.

“Although the content of the letter seemed emphatic with a sense of finality, it only sought to state what needs to happen, which is that the NFF elections are to be held in September, among other things. .

“If the NFF feels offended by the letter, they should treat it as advice and not as a directive. But relying on the non-interference clause in FIFA rules as a basis for not holding the election will be counterproductive given that it is the federal government that still largely funds the NFF,” he said. concluded NWFL owner Naija Ratels. CF.

Support for the government may be overwhelming, but a sports journalist and football administrator, Patrick Ngwaogu, believes the presidential directive, harmless as it is, may not achieve everything it set out to do.

He said that given the situation on the ground, it might not be possible to avoid the FIFA Normalization Committee as time was too short for the government’s demands to be fully met.

“Honestly, I don’t think we’re going to get much out of the recent government order. Indeed, even if the court case is ultimately overturned by the appellant, the time may be too short for the convention to take place.

“Secondly, the Bylaws can only be amended by the Bylaws Amendment Committee which only Congress is authorized to compose. So I don’t think we have time to set up a committee to amend the statutes which have to be approved by the Congress before being handed over to the Executive Committee who in turn will review it and then forward it to FIFA for final approval.

“It is no doubt a long process which may be difficult to conclude by September. through zoom.

“So the only realistic thing that can happen by September is the election. Those who want the NFF bylaws changed have to wait until after the election. If they insist, we would end up with a normalization commission of FIFA,” he explained.

However, the idea of ​​a normalization committee which is to involve FIFA executive committee member Pinnick was frowned upon by FCT Football Association chairman Adam Mouktar Mohammed.

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