The crisis in Nigeria football is at an alarming proportion. Despite escaping the ban from the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA), last week, peace is yet to completely return to the football house. It was strange that the Minister of Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung, came out after FIFA cleared Nigeria that he believed in the “rule of law” and not the statutes of the football body. Last week, FIFA confirmed that Nigeria had met the conditions given to it on August 13 when the six-day ultimatum to resolve the leadership crisis was issued.
The statement from FIFA read: “Following the decision of the Bureau of the FIFA Council of August 13, 2018 concerning the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), FIFA received confirmations that the legitimate leadership of the NFF, under President Amaju Pinnick and General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, has been given back effective control of the NFF and its offices.
“In view of these circumstances, FIFA deems that the conditions set by the decision of the Bureau of the FIFA Council have now been met and consequently the suspension of the NFF will not take effect. “FIFA will continue to closely monitor the situation in order to ensure that FIFA’s rules and regulations are fully adhered to.”
We commend Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, who was at the time the acting President, who doused tension over the impending FIFA ban on Nigeria. Osinbajo’s media aide, Laolu Akande, stated that the Federal Government has assured FIFA that the country will comply with the statutes of the world football body.
He said: “The Federal Government has already conveyed its firm position recognizing Amaju Pinnick-led NFF as the current and only NFF exco. “Government will also continue to work with relevant stakeholders involved to resolve the dispute in a timely manner. The Federal Government is upholding NFF treaty obligations to FIFA.” Club owner, Chris Giwa, in the past three years, has been contesting the victory of Pinnick at the NFF election that took place in Warri, Delta State. With just six weeks or less to the end of Pinnick’s tenure, Giwa is still bent on becoming the NFF boss and somehow he has the backing of the minister.
The current crisis was triggered by Dalung shortly after Nigeria crashed out of the Russia 2018 World Cup when he insisted on the Supreme Court judgement. The judgement stated that Giwa should be heard at the lower court and all parties should go back and start all over again. Rather than do that, Giwa assumed office in the Glass House for two weeks until the Department of State Services (DSS) brought back the General Secretary of NFF, Sanusi, to restore normalcy. However, FIFA stated clearly that Nigeria will be under close monitoring, but it was a shock that Dalung again released a statement that Nigeria stands by ‘rule of law’. Dalung said: “This crisis cannot be solved with a temporary measure or scratched on the surface.
“I will prefer to stand with the rule of law instead of the opinion of men. I want to appeal to Nigerians to remain calm and give support to the NFF Elders Stakeholders Reconciliation Committee which is made up of reputable past Presidents and General Secretaries of the NFF with vast knowledge, experience and competence to resolve this crisis once and for all.”
We make bold to say the response from the minister is unnecessary at a time the country just escaped the ban from FIFA. The utterances of top shots like Dalung and all the other parties involved in the crisis are crucial. As if that was not enough, the Giwa group staged a Congress on Friday, August 24th in Abuja.
This is in deviance to the dictates of FIFA and the assurances the Federal Government gave to the world football body. A communiqué was issued after the meeting of the Giwa group. We hereby call on President Muhammadu Buhari to take a decisive action on those who are going contrary to the dictates of FIFA, including the Sports Minister. Nigerians love football and there is no way the majority of the populace will be comfortable if the country is out of international football through a ban.
The U-17 team, Eaglets and the national female team, the Falcons, have continental duties in the days ahead. Some referees were picked to officiate at the Africa U-17 tourney while some got the nod to attend FIFA seminar in three European countries. If FIFA bans Nigeria, all these would be lost, including the good run of Enyimba in Confederation Cup. Dalung as the Minister of Sports should be settling the crisis and not otherwise. His utterances and the adamant attitude of the Giwa group could still land Nigeria in trouble.
FIFA is still monitoring situation in the country, it is absurd that a group and the minister are acting contrary to the assurances Federal Government gave FIFA. We charge President Buhari to call Dalung to order and also to place a close watch on Giwa to avoid the wrath of FIFA. No individual or group is bigger than Nigeria.
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