Nigeria is in a race against time to avoid a ban from the world football governing body, FIFA.
An attempt by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, to meet with the FIFA President Gianni Infantino in Zurich has been met with a brick wall.
This development many fear could culminate in Nigeria getting the dreaded FIFA hammer as the world body gave the country until Monday, August 20, 2018, to hand over the administration and offices of the Football Federation to Amaju Pinnick and Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, or get banned.
It is understood that Mr Dalung is seeking to discuss the ongoing leadership tussle rocking the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) with FIFA but his request has been turned down outrightly.
As reported by ACL Sports, Mr Dalung wrote to FIFA on Wednesday, August 15, through the office of the Nigerian Ambassador to Switzerland, seeking to meet with Infantino alongside members of his reconciliatory committee and Chris Giwa, head of the other faction.
However, FIFA, in a swift reply to Mr Dalung’s request, signed by its Secretary-General, Fatma Samoura, rejected the idea while reiterating the stance of the Bureau Council of FIFA to ban Nigeria on Monday if they fail to do as requested.
“While we are aware of the seriousness and urgency of the matter, we regret to inform you that we are not in a position to respond favourably to your request for an appointment with the FIFA Leadership. In fact, the FIFA President is indisposed during the proposed period,” stated FIFA in their response.
Those on Mr Dalung’s proposed delegation to Zurich include, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Sports Olusade Adesola; former NFA Chairmen, Ibrahim Galadima and Anthony Kodjo Williams; former NFF Secretary General, Bolaji Ojo Oba; Amaju Pinnick, Mohammed Sanusi and Chris Giwa.
“Moreover, we would Iike to recall that one member of the proposed delegation, Mr Chris Giwa, is currently under a worldwide ban, in accordance with the decision of the FIFA DiscipIinary Committee dated 10 January 2017 to extend the five—year ban from taking part in any kind of football-related activity imposed by the Nigeria FootbaIl Federation’s (NFF) Disciplinary Committee on 12 May 2016,” added FIFA.
The governing body also reminded the Minister that the only channel with which it relates to its member bodies is through the legitimate Football Federation and advised him not to use “other means in the future”.
“We would Iike to emphasise that we normally communicate with and through our member associations, in this case the NFF under its Iegitimate President, Amaju Melvin Pinnick.
“Consequently, we would be grateful to have any future correspondence be routed through the NFF directly,” said FIFA.
With this denial by FIFA, It remains to be seen if the country can wriggle its way out to avoid ostracisation from world football.
Nigeria has been hit with suspensions by FIFA in times past including in December 1989 when FIFA banned the country for two years from age-graded competitions.
FIFA also pronounced a provisional suspension on Nigeria in June 1992 for government interference in the composition of NFA (now NFF)
The FIFA hammer also fell on Nigeria in October 2010 on an account of government interference in the NFF.