Officials accuse Aminu Maigari and Chris Green of causing crisis in Nigerian football.
The crisis within Nigerian football administrators has taken a new dimension with secret meetings and plots allegedly being hatched among the topmost members of the football administration.
Already, the fracas, which has split the 15-man board of the Nigerian Football Federation into at least two camps, is damaging the growth and reputation of Nigerian football.
The Nigerian Premier League, the country’s most prized football competition is yet to commence its 2012-2013 season months after it should have started. Yet, no date has been fixed for it as the internal struggle for supremacy and control continues.
The foreign deal
When the Nigeria Football Federation President, Aminu Maigari, and the Chairman of the Technical Committee of the Federation, Chris Green, travelled to London on October 20, the official reason given was that of getting a new jersey for Super Eagles.
Aside from the official actions, Mr. Maigari and his crew tried to broker a deal with IMG Limited in the UK on behalf of the Nigeria Premier League, NPL, without the knowledge of the League Board, usually reliable sources at the federation told PREMIUM TIMES.
This alleged usurpation of functions by the football federation officials shows the high level of distrust and maneuvering going on within the Nigerian football hierarchy.
Though Mr. Maigari is the head of the NFF, the NPL is a semi-automous body with its own management chaired by Victor Baribote, who by NFF statues is also a Vice President of the federation.
Mr. Green, however, denied such negotiation took place.
“How can I go to the UK to negotiate a deal on behalf of the NPL, am I a member of the NPL board,” Mr. Green said, in a telephone interview.
There had been a long-standing crisis between various past leaderships of the NFF and the NPL largely caused by the former trying to dictate or control the latter, amidst corruption allegations.
The recent crises started when the Football Federation released a statement accusing the NPL of misappropriation of funds following an audit report. The federation queried the Premier League management and ordered the suspension of the League’s Congress which was slated to hold in Kano last weekend.
The Congress was meant to, among other decisions, finalise on a date for the commencement of the new Premier League season.
The NPL, PREMIUM TIMES learnt, has since replied the query, claiming that majority of the allegations in the audit report were carried out by the NPL’s previous administration.
What members said
Some members of the football federation complained of a grand scheme among the leadership of the federation
“They want to stop the league from moving forward, they do not want the calendar to be in accordance with the rest of the world so that Nigerians can call for the dissolution of the NPL board,” a board member of the federation, who did not want his name disclosed, said.
Another board member pointed an accusing finger at Mr. Green as being behind the crisis in the football body.
“Green is the problem of Nigeria football, he has taken over everything and he gives orders like he want. Most decisions he made were not in accordance with the NFF statutes and other board members are not aware of so many things before it was done,” the board member alleged.
The board member accused Messrs Green and Maigari of plotting to change the leadership of the NFF so as to install a more pliable candidate.
Another board member accused Mr. Maigari and Mr. Green of taking decisions on the NPL without the knowledge and approval of other board members.
“The board have not met on the issue of NPL and I don’t know why it is such a big deal, as I’m talking to you the Board is divided,” the official said.
A board member and Chairman of the Akwa-Ibom State Football Association, Effiong Johnson, also alluded to this in a statement he released on Wednesday.
“I did not stop or try to stop the NFF from carrying out any investigation on the NPL. We haven’t even discussed this matter yet at the board level,” Mr. Effiong said.
Mr. Effiong accused unnamed top members of the football federation of sponsoring attacks on him because of his stance on due process.
Mr. Green rejected the allegation that he was a cause of the crisis in the football administration. He insisted on knowing our sources before responding to the allegations.
The secret meeting
Officials of the football federation travelled to Calabar last weekend for the match between the Golden Eaglets and their Malian counterparts.
Sources within the football house however alleged that Mr. Maigari used the opportunity to hold a secret meeting with some zonal coordinators of the Nigerian Premier League.
An official claimed that the meeting was called to discuss strategies to impeach the current leadership of league body.
When PREMIUM TIMES contacted the Chairman of Chairmen of the Nigeria Premier League, Abdulaziz Mohammed, he said though he heard reports of such meeting, he was not part of it.
“I heard that the NFF board invited the zonal coordinators to Calabar, but I wasn’t invited for the meeting and I don’t know what they discussed,” Mr. Abdulaziz said.
NFF denies plot, meetings
The spokesman of the NFF, Demola Olajiire, denied the existence of a plot on the premier league leadership. Mr. Olajire also said he was unaware of secret meetings.
“I’m not aware of any meeting between the NFF and the NPL’s Zonal Coordinators,” Mr. Olajire said.
A zonal coordinator in the NPL who agreed to speak on record said though he was in Calabar for the match, he was unaware of any meeting.
“I was in Calabar and we didn’t have a meeting with the NFF,” Farouk Yarma, the Gombe State Football Authority Chairman told PREMIUM TIMES.
“It’s an in-house issue for now, they (the NFF) have the right to stop the congress although it’s all a mere allegation until the report is proved otherwise,” he added.
While the battle lingers, the Premier League is yet to start even as it has continued for the past two seasons without a sponsor.