ANALYSIS: Nigerian Football: Hurling Rocks at the Glass House, By Adegbenro Adebanjo

Nigeria Football Federation Glass House
Nigeria Football Federation Glass House

Some two years ago they threw stones into the glass house and it was just by a stroke of luck that the damage was minimal. And before the hammer from the Federation of International Football Associations, FIFA, fell on Nigeria, reason prevailed and the warring men of the Nigerian House of Football, Chris Giwa and Amaju Pinnick and their internal and external supporters were persuaded to sheathe their sword in the interest of the round leather game and the country.

The war is here again and this time around they are no longer throwing stones. Those desperate to seize control of the NFF by all means possible , are hauling rocks that may shake the Abuja Glass House headquarters of the body to its foundation and by extension sound the death knell on the beautiful game in Nigeria.

There is a major reason for all stakeholders including the presidency to be worried about the new fire that is being stoked in the Glass House. There are insinuations that the country’s number one sports administrator bear some vicarious responsibility for the new war of attrition in the NFF.

The man and those close to him are said to be aiding and abetting the war mongers and therefore should be held liable for the needless crisis in the Nigerian Football Federation which if not curtailed could spell doom for the country.

The Minister of Sports claim of neutrality in the war is also not helped by the fact that he hails from the same state and he is said to enjoy a chummy relationship with the main instigator of the ongoing revolt.
Some information about the renewed hostility is critical here. In September 2014 Pinnick was elected President of the NFF at a duly constituted event for that purpose and he was sworn in.

However Giwa, who enjoyed some support from a section of the football fraternity claimed that he had earlier been elected at another event held in Abuja in August 2014. He went to a Jos High Court to challenge the election and Presidency of Pinnick. And FIFA stepped in threatening to sanction Nigeria by banning it from participating in all its organized competitions. For in the statute of FIFA such disagreements should be brought before it for adjudication. And thereafter to the Court of Arbitration for Sports, CAS, should any of the parties be dissatisfied with FIFA’s verdict.

Giwa took his case to the Court of Arbitration for Sports after failing to get the support of Confederation of African Football CAF and FIFA. He lost. He was then persuaded to withdraw his case from the Jos High Court after FIFA and CAF had endorsed the election of Pinnick. Aso Rock also stepped in and persuaded Giwa to toe the line of peace. He did and Peace returned to the Glass House. Pinnick settled down and Football began to get a new lease of life. Nigeria returned to winning ways, claiming the African Women Football Championship , the Under -17 World Cup, the Under-23 African Youth Championship and qualification for the football event of the 2016 Olympic Games in quick succession. The country is also making progress in the qualification series for the African Nations Cup and the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

And then Solomon Dalung, the Khaki and beret wearing Plateau State born politician, became the minister of sports. And Giwa, who is also of Plateau State extraction, suddenly remembered that he had once stake a claim to the presidency of the NFF and the time has come for him to renew his battle for the NFF top job. Out of the blues some few weeks ago he so proclaimed himself as the new helmsman of Nigerian Football and served notice that he would go to the Glass House to claim his mandate.

For reasons best known to Dalung and his advisers they paid attention to Giwa thereby conferring some form of legitimacy on his claim to the presidency of NFF. Dalung invited Pinnick and Giwa to a peace meeting in Abuja. And all hell broke loose. The peace meeting degenerated into bedlam, exchange of hot words and near fist cuff in the presence of the minister, the full glare of the press and other stakeholders. And the words went out that Nigerian football is in crisis again.

Dalung says he means well. Hear him, “We have decided to hear from them because this is a democracy. If we were in a military dictatorship, I may have just decreed and ask one party to step down. I have the will power and the political power to resolve the issue and I am optimistic that this issue will be resolved.’

The problem is that those in the know and those who follow the game and its administration with more than a passing interest know that there was no issue about the leadership of the NFF. The Chris Giwa instigated crisis had long been resolved until Dalung orchestrated the so called Peace meeting in Abuja. And the question is can you broker peace where there is no war? Giwa was persuaded by some persons to wake up a dead horse and Dalung, for reasons he needs to explain to Nigerians especially followers of the game and President Muhammadu Buhari,also aided and encouraged him. Indeed what is going on is like a magistrate court entertaining a case that had been decided and resolved by the Supreme Court.

Those whose sole aim is to bring confusion and ultimately precipitate a ban of Nigeria by FIFA and derail the round leather game , preparation for the Olympic games Football event, Super Eagles world cup qualifiers and other competitions should not be allowed to succeed however highly placed or well connected to the loop of political power they may be . All lovers of sports especially football should rise up against the shenanigan of the rebels and their patrons. They tried the same antics before and they almost destroyed the game with their ill-conceived plot. It is disheartening that some persons with connection to some powers that be are backing this rebellion against the round leather game. They want to seize control of its administration for purely selfish reasons.

Those who want to seize control of NFF through the back door and other acts of subterfuge must be stopped now.

Dalung and his advisers must steer clear of this dirty politics and should not give in to those who want to destroy the game and deprive Nigeria of a unifying force which provides occasional relief in this season of gloom and economic depression.

Let it never be said that until CAF and FIFA threaten us or wield the big stick, we cannot properly administer the game of football in our country. All lovers of sports especially football should rise up against the shenanigan of Giwa and his acolytes. They tried it last year and almost destroyed the game with their ill concieved plot . They failed . It is disheartening that some persons with connection to some powers that be are backing this rebellion against the round leather game. They want to seize control of its administration for purely selfish reasons.
Under Pinick the game has been given a new filip with remarkable successes at various levels.

This attempt by the rebels must be nipped in the bud. Dalong and his advisers must steer clear of this dirty politics and should not give in to those who want to destroy the game and deprive Nigeria of a unifying force which provides occassional relief in this season of gloom and economic depression.

Those who want to seize control of NFF must be stopped now. Aso Rock and key leaders of the game should step in and sort out this needless and parochial driven crisis now before CAF and FIFA step in to sort things out to our ultimate shame.

Adebanjo, former sports editor of TELL Magazine, wrote in via obanijesu@yahoo.com


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