Administrative football crisis is fast becoming a norm in Nigeria. Every organisation, body or group strives to attain peace in an attempt to move the objectives of the body to another level. The reverse is the case in Nigerian football as people come up with various rules to suit their selfish ambitions. At state and national levels, crises of various forms have rocked the game to the detriment of the development of the game at all levels. History has shown that the outcome of these crises always leave a dent on the growth of the game.
The game suffers especially because those who signed on to pilot the affairs are busy fighting for legitimacy or other administrative issues. In this part of the world, federations fail to deliver the results expected from them due to internal crisis. Football is not an exception as I recall Nigeria lost Nations Cup tickets during the time a Jos-based politician and businessman, Chris Giwa, was fighting NFF president, Amaju Pinnick, for legitimacy in the football house. Only last year, Nigeria also lost the tickets to feature in the men’s and women’s football events of the Tokyo Olympics. The U-17 and U-20 male teams fumbled at the World Cup while the CHAN team failed to make it to the finals of the home-based AFCON.
The inability of administrators to guarantee peace on the board resulted in setbacks for many federations including the Nigeria Football Federation. It is expected that administrators at all levels learn from this and avoid crisis but rather some powerful forces fuel the crisis from behind to set a bad example for future.
Today, the Athletic Federation of Nigeria, Nigeria Basketball Federation and the Gymnastics Federation of Nigeria are in crisis. The NBBF and the AFN have two factional presidents each. Only during the week, a factional chairman of the Football Federation in Delta State emerged after months of crisis which led to the setting up of a normalization committee by the NFF. In an election conducted in Asaba on Tuesday, Ken Nwamucha defeated Michael Anemeka to emerge as factional chairman of the DFA in a poll that many described as illegal.
Nwamucha scored 26 votes to defeat Anemeka who did not get a single vote. Steve Cole is the deputy while Harrison Ocholor, David Igho, Neville Bekederemor, Azuka Chiama and ex-international Sam Sodje are the members. The election opened a new vista in the crisis rocking the DFA after another faction led by ex-internationals Edema Fuludu and Victor Ikpeba was shoved aside by the NFF. Sad enough, the NFF is yet to make an official pronouncement on the election just as Fuludu has vowed to use all legal means to fight for his legitimacy.
It was indeed sad that the NFF could not embrace dialogue in dealing with the issue. For example, the two former internationals in the board of the Delta FA should have been approached for talks on the way forward. Interestingly, the Delta FA’s vice-chairman, Ikpeba, is a member of the technical committee of the NFF. The implication of the crisis is that some programmmes of the Fuludu/Ikpeba administration might suffer as the current imbroglio lingers. According to the NFF Statutes, the State FAs can stage their elections independently and this is the premise of Edema/Ikpeba board while the fractional board is banking on the sympathy being enjoyed from the Delta Sports Commission and the NFF coupled with an unwritten verbal agreement of zoning.
The NFF statutes of 2010 article 18.2 on the State FAs, Clubs, leagues and group of clubs reads: “The affiliated State Football Associations, Clubs, Leagues and Groups of NFF shall take all decisions on any matters regarding their membership independently of any external body. This obligation applies regardless of their corporate structure.” With this, one wonders where the NFF derives its powers to set up normalization committee.
There is another administrative issue in the Anambra State FA. The NFF has failed to recognise the current board led by Chief Ifeanyi Ubah and therefore has set up a caretaker committee that is expected to stage fresh elections next month. In Plateau, there was no election and the tenure of the board was extended by state Congress for another four years. Kano and Katsina also have their issues respectively. The NFF should focus on running the domestic league, national and international football to develop the game better in the country. Sports minister Sunday Dare can also invite the NFF for talks on how to resolve these crises so that the youth in these states will not suffer.