‘They kissed and made up’,and ‘they sheathed their swords’, these are some of the lines which have been used to allude to the peace that seems to have returned to Nigerian football. But the question is will ‘they live happily ever after?’
A lot transpired from Monday 12,March 2012 which could have marred and to a greater perspective, we believe has come to define football in the country. The Nigeria Football Federation(NFF) on Monday held an emergency meeting:firstly to talk about the withheld quarterly allocation by the National Sports Commission(they are always after money) and also to appoint a National Technical Director, coaches for the Super Falcons and the under 20 national teams.
NFF never had a knowledge of what was in store for them that day, in a meeting with the Sports minister. We understand that in the meeting with the sports minister, Mallam Bolaji Abudullahi,he told the NFF executives to resign their positions as board members as directed by the Federal Government of Nigeria,which they vehemently disagreed on.(note: the Sports ministry denies this claim)
Unsatisfied with the outcome of the meeting with the minister, at about 6.00PM the NFF went straight to seek audience with the Presidency and met with the Secretary to the Federal Government Anyim Pius Anyim. It was at this meeting that pictures became clearer for NFF on government’s stand concerning how they run football in the country.
They massively wanted to resign their positions but Senator Anyim Pius entreated them not to,in order to avoid the popular line which we all know the NFF normally holds the country to ransom with ‘FIFA BAN.’
The following day Tuesday, saw another series of meetings between all that matters in football circuit in the country. Senator Pius Anyim, Sports minister Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi,National Sports commission Director General Patrick Ekeji,met with the NFF executives and the aggrieved parties to settle whatever dispute they have against each other. In a bid to come to a truce,both parties had to shift grounds in order to reach a comprise.
The truce did not come cheap,as the aggrieved parties were adequately compensated. Dr Sam Sam Jaja who challenged his disqualification from running for NPL chairmanship,is expected to be named as honorary member of NFF,his disqualification reversed and he will also get a public apology tendered to him. Nnaji’s ban from football activities will be lifted,he will also have his outstanding referees allowance paid by NFF in addition to a ‘reasonable compensation.’
All these agreement will be met by the NFF, as a condition for both Sam Sam Jaja and Ray Nnaji to withdraw their cases from court. This is the right step in the right direction,but I strongly believe we are setting a bad precedence.
What this simply means is that anybody who has a case against NFF should go to court and box the NFF into an out of court settlement.
Something must be wrong with this NFF to make people always take them to court. Last year alone the Aminu Maigari led board had over eighteen law suits against them. Even a national team coach took the embattled football house to a court over non fulfillment of contractual agreement.
It is turning into a charade as the football house is loosing focus on proper administration of football. 2011 was one of the worst football years in the country as we failed to qualify for any major tournament. Countries lower down Nigeria in the FIFA rankings,have long overtaken us. Is it a surprise that we currently ranked ninth in Africa and fifty seventh in the world?
The Nigeria premier league’s crisis is unending,the Chairman Rumson Baribote is in a face-off with Acting secretary of NPL Tunji Babalola in a battle of supremacy. Where will all these lead us to? Is it not very appalling that clubs are the ones paying the indemnities of referees after each game?
Not that the people going to court are all saints,some are apparently in court just because of what they can milk out of the football house and others out of a genuine cause.
I just hope we have had the last of all these court cases,but I strongly believe we haven’t. It is only left to be seen, what the outcome of the meeting between Nigeria’s delegates and FIFA officials will be.
This could be a brewing storm as we are yet to hear from people like Harrison Jala,Jarret Tenebe etc. Or could they be waiting for an of court settlement as well?