It was good news for all major stakeholders of Nigerian football and the sport loving citizens of the most populated black nation on the face of the earth when at exactly 11:38am, on Monday, 20th August 2018, the Senior Special Assistant to the Vice President on Media and Publicity, Laolu Akande ‘tweeted’ that ‘the Federal Government has already conveyed to FIFA its firm position recognizing Amaju Pinnick-led as the current and only NFF Excos. Government will also continue to work with all relevant stakeholders involved to resolve dispute in a timely manner. Federal Government is upholding NFF treaty obligations to FIFA’.
The tweet which many considered the most relieving and extremely important one since the notice of FIFA’s decision to ban Nigeria football by noon of the same day that the information above was released, if FIFA had not received confirmations that the ‘legitimate’ leadership of the NFF is under Amaju Melvin Pinnick and Mohammed Sanusi as the President and General Secretary effectively controlling NFF and its offices as against the position of Nigeria’s Supreme Court.
As at the time of putting this piece together, many stakeholders of Nigeria football who were not really bothered about whose board currently leads the NFF, but are praying to see to the sustainability of the joy they derive from the black nation’s participation in FIFA organised international football tournaments and CAF organised continental tournaments, especially in a year when the Nigeria’s Under 17, 20 and other national teams have major matches to play at the continental level, not forgetting the level of crime that has been abated in the country because of the many young men and women who are actively engaged in football directly or indirectly as their passion or money making venture.
While some key stakeholders were also jubilant for the decision of the Federal Government to make a commitment to FIFA with respect to the subject matter that went in their favour and loyalists of the other warring faction were seen to be counting their losses and trying to re-strategize, I focused on the process leading to this development that seems to have normalised the administration of the round leather game in the country and could not but give kudos to the APC led Federal Government for acting fast to save Nigeria football from complete collapse. It is at this state that it occurred to me that the reason an aide of the country’s Vice President released the relieving news about this lingering and damaging issue into the public space, even when President Muhammadu Buhari was back in the country from his 10-day working vacation is because the Vice President was trusted enough by his boss to handle and resolve the matter in such a way that ‘football wins’ at the end.
A quick peep and brief analysis into the relationship between President Buhari and his second-in-command re-emphasised a working relationship between both most powerful political figures in the country that exhibits mutual love, trust, confidence and unrivalled loyalty by Yemi Osinbajo to his boss; whom the Vice President publicly declared endorses his decisions whenever he holds sway as the Acting President. Many well-meaning Nigerians are yet to forget in a hurry critical decisions that the Vice President took in the absence of his boss and for the good of the country not limited to directing the termination of the appointment of the former Director General, Department of State Services (DSS) who was considered a very key and powerful member of the President’s kitchen cabinet by many, the presidential directive to the Inspector General of the Nigeria Police Force to overhaul its Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS); a unit that the country’s citizens have been protesting and moaning about its barbaric, despicable, intimidating and fraudulent acts on both conventional and social media in recent time. Again, the ‘temporary’ resolution of this protracted football crises is a function of the direct intervention of the Vice President and we do hope that he finishes the good work he has started.
For some of us, we may have concluded that a boss who feels less threatened about his principal position wherever he is called to function may not have noticeable hitches with his obviously loyal subordinate; this can best describe what goes on between the President and the Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. We implore that they both work at their relationship and while the president continues to give direction needed for the country to keep succeeding in all ramifications, the Vice President must continually exert effort in implementing the President’s decisions and persistently take the tough decisions whenever he is called upon to act on behalf of the President.
However, back to football, it is obvious that the last is yet to be heard concerning the crisis that rocked the glass house for some months now and we want to plead with the Vice President that he must not rest on his oars until the cosmetic and temporary solution to the crisis is made a permanent one. We implore Federal Government to immediately hold discussions with both warring parties and a ‘deal’ is reached in such a way that every form of acrimony that has been perpetrated in the past against each other’s camp is undone and a genuine out of court settlement is achieved so that everyone is happy at the end of the day and whatever needs to be done must be done fast as the Federal Government’s attention will soon be completely shifted to preparations for the 2019 general elections.
We also call on the Amaju Pinnick led board to get back to work immediately and re-ignite the engine of Nigeria football. One of the things that stakeholders want to see happen within a couple of weeks from now is for the various football leagues in the country including the NPFL, NNL and NLO that have been on break before the World Cup in Russia commenced are immediately re-started, all manner of issues surrounding our various national teams should also be immediately resolved. These and other football issues that need to be tackled by the NFF should be dealt with urgently so that our country’s football economy can thrive again.
We do hope that Nigeria football will be stronger after this time out.
God bless the Nigeria Football Federation!!!
God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!!!
Olusola Omole is a former Banker, Chartered Accountant, and Club President of Flomat Football Club, based in Abuja