–I HOPE this message is not premature.
I hope nothing happens again to take us back to the start of this entire drama.
I was in Ghana early this week when the elections into the Executive Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation took place. From what I gather there are still a few pending issues that must be resolved before final peace (if there will ever be such a thing) in Nigerian football can be achieved.
But first let me join Sepp Blatter and all other well-wishers that have sent congratulatory messages to Amaju Pinnick in wishing him well in his reign as President of the Nigeria Football Association (Federation).
It was no mean feat to emerge as President at the congress that held on September 30 despite a court order, I am told, that directed it not to hold, as against a FIFA advice that the congress be held!
The important thing for now is that, in spite of the faults of the electoral process that I pointed out last week, the elections came and went and a new Executive Committee has emerged.
That ‘game’ is over. No matter the protestations, Amaju Pinnick will rule for the next four years.
At which point, except if the period is used to right all the wrongs of the present, the crisis that almost consumed the country’s football would repeat itself again. You do not plant an orange and expect to reap an apple! I guarantee you, as I did in 2010, that in four years time, we shall go through this same cycle again, unless things change!
Without question, Amaju deserves his victory considering the field of contestants. That he is supported by a whole lot of other circumstances like where the congress held, the political party the State belongs to, the previous zonal imbalance of power in Nigerian football, the influence of the Delta State governor and his relationship with the highest level of power in Nigeria, all were great influences in the direction the pendulum of victory finally swung!
Needless to go into the details, but all other contestants should have known that for as long as the elections took place in Delta State, and one of the contestants was from there, and the incumbent was not participating, the chances of stopping the hurtling Amaju train was almost impossible. That’s the nature of elections here in Nigeria.
As Chairman of the Football Association of Delta State (which he now has to relinquish to give room for State elections to elect his successor) as well as Executive Chairman of the Delta State Sports Commission (which he must also give up to remove the tag of ‘government’ that may haunt him in his relationship with FIFA) Amaju adds yet another feather to his bulging portfolio of political achievements and offices!
Chris Giwa – The Agry Lion In Waiting!
I DID not have time to congratulate Chris Giwa when he ‘won’ the elections of August 26. His victory was shot down almost as quickly as the results were declared. His reign must be one of the shortest in the history of elections.
Too bad, but it would have been interesting to see how he would have fared ruling Nigerian football from the background of someone that is relatively unknown in the administration of the game in the country, but not carrying the baggage of any previous stint in the polluted field of Nigerian football.
How would Giwa have survived? Phew, that would have been great drama! A few people even say that if nothing else, he would have brought a breath of real fresh air!
Interestingly, he has a strong case in court and may still provide some drama somewhere down the road if he persists in his fight for justice.
Challenges Before Amaju!
At things now stand, Amaju is coming into office with his hands full of serious and sometimes complicated issues he has to deal with first. He would need all his wits, human relations and acute political, legal and administrative skills to successfully manouvre through the minefields that lie ahead.
Somehow, he would have to find a way to stop the challenges still in court. Unless, there is a political intervention at a high level, and the courts agree to bend backwards to allow disregard of their decisions (which is not a new thing, as it happened and the last executive got away with it for the 4 years of their tenure) to go unpunished, Amaju may find that the simple decision of a high court judge in Jos, who may not even know anything about the game of football, could develop into a cancer that would make life extremely difficult for the new committee.
Besides Giwa, there are still other aggrieved members of the last executive committee that appear to have now lost out in the battle of the last election. They are also stakeholders at different levels of Nigerian football and their grievances will just not disappear simply because Sepp Blatter has congratulated Amaju. Far from it, he would have to appease them somehow and readmit them into the fold for him to sleep with both eyes shut!
Furthermore, he would have to take a firm stand, for good or for worse, on who has the rights to manage the affairs of the Nigerian Premier League, a situation that is confounding to all but the architects of that body (LMC) that is unknown in the statutes of Nigerian football but holding on to the most priced possession of the members of the NFF – The Premier League. I foresee grave crisis coming from that direction.
There will be other issues too, including that of Stephen Keshi. It will be a big battle of egos, what I foresee between Amaju and Keshi. Fire him or hire him?
The next set of matches will determine how that plays out in the beginning of what could be a turbulent relationship.
Finally, what I believe is that unless the statutes of the Nigeria Football Federation are amended to accommodate all stakeholders on an equal representation basis as directed by FIFA years ago in their letter to the Sani Lulu board, and are designed in such a way that every election is held with all contestants on a level playing field, and is not driven by vaulting ambition that introduces special rules from outside the statutes, in four years time Nigerians should expect a repeat of what we have all just experienced.
Meanwhile, once again, I wish Amaju Pinnick and the rest of his Executive Committee members the best of luck in their future struggles.
Next: State FA Elections
WHAT is not known to most Nigerians is that with the election into the Executive Committee of the NFF done last week and accepted by the government and by FIFA, the life of the Congress that elected the committee members is over! That is part of the anomaly of the convoluted process that was introduced in 2010 and repeated now in 2014.
Within the next two months, the tenures of all the State FAs that constitute the largest block of members of the NFF will be over. All State FA’s (except Lagos State that will have its own in January 2015) must conduct their own State elections before December.
What usually happens is that in the euphoria or confusion that follows the Executive Committee elections, interest in the membership of the Congress or General Assembly takes backstage.
Most times no one says anything about them and the Chairmen remain as State FA chairmen almost forever. Only some active States raise the issue and compel elections to be held. Such is the level of ignorance by stakeholders all over the country.
In some States, including some in the South-South (I am specifically mentioning that zone because that’s where Amaju comes from) elections into their State FAs has never been done.
In order for a meeting of the next General Assembly to hold, therefore, according to the present ‘bad’ statutes, the process for elections into the executive committees of ALL the members of the NFF must start NOW!
To right the wrongs of the present statutes the new Congress, at soon, as they are elected and meet, should kick-start a review of the present statutes to amend them so that an all-inclusive Federation of all properly constituted affiliate-bodies evolves from future elections, and the elections follow a correct process without the possibility of any manipulation by an incumbent wanting to perpetuate himself in office.