Football in Nigeria has potential for growth looking at the talent, skills, achievements at youth level and the energy of budding stars. The major setback in the development of the game in Nigeria has been how the administrators can’t seem to get things right. Taking the right decisions at the right time is crucial just as focusing on the right things to be done in various areas. However, crises, uncertainties have been almost synonymous to the administration of the game in Nigeria. There was a time we had two factions of boards and presidents of the Nigeria Football Federation.
This issue was a big setback such that rather than concentrating on administration of the game, the legitimate body was battling to remain in office. It is sad that no lesson has been learnt over time at every level of football to prevent crises that could hinder the game. Fresh crises are already prevalent in the football scene.
During the week, the NFF came out to say the Football Association election that took place in Anambra was not legitimate. Chairman of Chairmen in Nigerian football, Alhaji Ibrahim Gasau, argued that the election held on July 27 negates government’s stand on COVID-19 pandemic, insisting the NFF is not part of it. Gusau said: “The same Electoral Committee issued a press statement on Monday, 27th July 2020 informing the general public that the elections would no longer hold, and regretted the inconvenience that the sudden postponement may have caused the candidates, delegates, observers, stakeholders and the general public.
“It is incomprehensible how anyone could have gone ahead with the charade they are calling ‘election’. That was an affront on the Government and the NFF will never be part of it. The Anambra State COVID-19 Task Force made it clear that there should be no such gathering. Let it be said without ambiguity that the NFF does not recognize such a sham and it cannot stand.” The FA chairman in Anambra, Ifeanyi Ubah, gave the go-ahead for the election, acting as the custodian of football in the state.
The premise of the NFF point is valid but because of the bad role NFF has played in the past, it is difficult for people to trust the federation on its decision. The body should have settled the issue without making noise. A case in point is another FA election that took place in Delta. Edema Fuludu and Victor Ikpeba emerged as Chairman and Vice-Chairman after the elections but the NFF opted for a normalization committee. This happened before COVID-19 and one wonders why the NFF intervened in the process. The issue is currently in court.
A former President of the National Association of Nigeria Footballers, Harrinson Jalla, has warned the NFF to allow Anabra people deal with the FA elections in the state. Jalla said: “The NFF should not hijack the Anambra State Football Association Electoral process or attempt to skew it in favour of its preferred candidate. The rush with a public statement by the NFF to condemn the purported FA election in Anambra is pregnant. The state FA stakeholders should have been left to complain, if the contestants feel strongly that their rights are being trampled upon, such contestants should follow the due process to challenge it.” I expect good reason to prevail in the crises rocking Delta and Anambra elections. The two states incidentally have produced big names for the country’s football.
Another problem area in the cancellation of the domestic league with the points-per-game format which has sparked controversy between two clubs with same points. With PPG, Plateau United currently top the table with 49 points after 25 matches with PPG points of 1.96. The second position is between Rivers United, currently placed second and Enyimba as they will both finish with same PPG of 1.80, however, Enyimba played five games fewer than the Port Harcourt side. It was a shame that the NFF rolled out its decision on the season without clarification on who is second or third. It is widely believed that the NFF has registered continental teams but the body has not officially told Nigerians the teams playing in the Champions League and the Confederation Cup.
Rivers United have vowed to go to court if the team was not registered for the Champions League. So many problems are in the football circles just as the federation is yet to determine how teams will be tested before the restart tentatively fixed for September/October. The NFF should be focused on how best to administer the game and get results in the post COVID-19 era rather than continue to swim in troubled waters here are there.