New Telegraph

February 24, 2024

Recurrent crisis as bane of Nigerian football

The major setback in the development of football in Nigeria has been how the administrators can put round pegs in round holes. Taking the right decisions at the right time is crucial, just as focusing on the right things to be done duly. We are very sure that football has the potential for growth in Nigeria with the talents, skills and achievements at the youth level and the energy of budding stars.

Nigeria has won the FIFA U-17 World Cup a record five times, but it has not impacted much on the country’s football development. Recurrent crises and uncertainties have almost become synonymous to the administration of the game in Nigeria.

We recall a time the country had two factions of boards and presidents of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF). This issue was a big setback such that rather than concentrating on administration of the game, the legit body was battling to remain in office.

We frown at the way NFF handles the cancellation of the domestic league with the Point Per Game (PPG) format, which has sparked controversy between two clubs with the same points. The cancellation is not the problem, but the fact that the football body left too many holes in its decision.

For example, with the PPG, Plateau United are on top of 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 both finished with same PPG of 1.80. However, Enyimba played five games lesser than the Port Harcourt side.

We insist that it is a shame the apex football body rolled out its decision on the season without clarification on who is second or third. It is widely believed that 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 officials have vowed to go to court if the team was not registered for the Champions League. Many other problems are in the football circle, just as the Federation is yet to determine how teams will be tested for COVID-19 before the restart tentatively fixed for September/ October. Also last week, NFF came out to declare that the Football Association election that took place in Anambra was not legitimate.

Chairman of Chairmen in Nigerian football, Alhaji Ibrahim Gasau, noted that the election held on July 27 negates government’s stand on COVID-19, insisting NFF is not part of it. Gusau said: “The Electoral Committee issued a press state-ment on Monday, 27th July 2020, informing the general public that the elections would no longer take place and regretted the inconvenience that the sudden postponement may have caused stakeholders and the general public. “It is incomprehensible how anyone could have gone ahead with the charade they call ‘election’. That was an affront on government and 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 NFF does not recognize such a sham and it cannot stand.” We learnt that the FA chairman in Anambra, Ifeanyi Ubah, gave a go ahead for the election, as the custodian of football in the state. No doubt, the basis of the NFF point is valid, but because of the antecedents of NFF, it is difficult for people to trust the federation on its decision. The body should have settled the issue without making noise. We recall another FA Elections that took place in Delta. Edema Fuludu and Victor Ikpeba emerged as president and vice after the elections, but NFF opted for a normalization committee. This happened before COVID-19 and one wonders why NFF intervened in the process.

The issue is currently in court. A former President of the National Association of Nigeria Players, Harrinson Jalla, has warned that NFF should allow Anambra 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.” We expect government of Anambra and the COVID-19 body to dialogue with the state FA on the election and decide what next so that good reason will prevail.

The crisis in Delta should also be halted. The two states incidentally have produced big names for the country’s football. NFF should focus on how best to administer the game and get results in the post-COVID-19 era rather than continue to swim in trouble waters here are there. We frown at the fact that no lesson has been learnt over time at every level of football administration to prevent crises that could hinder the game. The fresh crises brewing in the football scene should be tamed to allow peace and progress reign supreme.

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