A great Nigerian musician, late Fela Anikulapo-Kuti once sang a song that is quite metaphorically relevant to the scene of today and it goes like this, “Human Right is my property. So therefore you cannot dash me my property.” The context of that song, was that the United Nations was being questioned on various issues concerning Human Rights in African Nations and the key to that song was South Africa’s apartheid regime where people at UN were shouting about the evolution of Human Rights in South Africa where Fela opined that he disagreed because natural things cannot not evolve. This song can be applied to the situation our athletes faced today whether in football or athletics on their welfare concerns, even if they were not athletes because Nigeria’s constitution protects their lives and properties.
That federation, although is unknown in Nigeria’s law as determined by several judicial decisions is now headed by two factional leaders, Mr. Giwa and Amaju Pinnick. What is at stake is monthly N400million disbursements of funds meant for athletes’ development whether mediocre or elites. Even with such level of spending for athlete’s purposes, the President of Nigeria Mr. Goodluck Jonathan had to bail those illegal federation out with payments to Coaches and athletes. Again, the President intervention is commendable, but at the same time he is doing his constitutional duty of protecting the assets and welfare of those citizens who happened to be athletes at such time. In layman terms, Mr. President appointed a Sports Minister who failed in his duty to monitor athletes’ funds that was mismanaged by the declared illegal federation. Essentially, the President is showing leadership and cannot be faulted with his intervention even by FIFA.
The President also as reported instructed the Sports Minister Mr. Danagogo to be proactive on disbursements to the athletes, but the declared illegal federation cries bloody foul and call it government intervention so that the country can face the wrath of FIFA. FIFA itself has leaders under corruption investigations and in the past have leaders pushed out for corruption including its member from Nigeria.
Later on, the State Security officials got involved as the constitution demands to the chagrin of FIFA, an international organization who is the principal of the local football federation. FIFA on its part piggybacks the rotten elements of the country’s illegal federation and endorsed actions injurious to our athletes’ welfare while at the same time dictating to our judiciary what decision they must make. This is appalling because Nigeria is a sovereign state and as such the country does not need what belongs to her. Am very sure my readers got the gist of Fela’s song here.
Other concern was raised by the domestic football league being run by parties hired by the allegedly dismissed former Football Boss Alhadji Maigari and Bolaji Abdullahi former Minister as the only shareholders. The entity was named League Management Committee (LMC) which was disbanded by another factional leaders of the football federation, or is it not? The question is, why would a seated sports Minister owns a management outfit without conflict of interests? This is a sign of many years of turmoil to come, this writer presumes.
The country’s senior team has an ad hoc coaching team and are not doing well at this time because the power struggle of this federation meant that no one is entitled to hire a coach on a permanent basis as such with the assistance of a Mr. Danagogo former coach was re-engaged temporarily. Sometimes continuity is a good thing, but one may ask whether downward turn of events for the senior team ought to be continued? This writer thinks that a full brake must be applied at this time, not because Keshi hadn’t deliver, but because a new direction ought to be tested at least on World Stage.
As for Athletics the status quo continues to be maintained where mediocrity thrives in abundance and athletes are scared silly to utter a word of complain to anyone without begging for anonymity. As a result former athletes have zeroed-in on the lacuna to make more propaganda messages for the federation despite ridiculously infantile and uneducated reasoning for their statements. Should concerned former or current athletes raise any response about the propaganda messages then they are ridiculed, insulted and called names by one George Lakayella Ogbeide and few others. This writer knows this political diversion tactics very well and returned insults to them on behalf of all athletes where George Lakayella Ogbeide is now advocating dead threat on this writer. The matter was reported to law enforcement agencies in US and Nigeria.
However, the substance of athletes’ concerns remained their welfare, development and recognition. That’s the only reason why Nigeria’s team has become ‘one’ (female) athlete nation. The country also observed athletics federation jettisoning athletes’ development as well as maintenance of the elite for the sake of illegal alien mercenaries both as a competitor and coaching. Solomon Ogba, the Bolaji Abdullahi administration (as sports Minister) imposed federation leader was quoted as saying that until local athletes beat the illegals that he is less concerned about them. The question is that why the interviewer failed to ask Solomon Ogba, what is athletes’ development? Well, its’ not a matter of history, but a matter of reality that practice makes perfect and polished diamond was once raw and rough.
Unfortunately, some former athletes agreed with Solomon Ogba’s ‘plucking where he did not sow’ foolish agenda. Well, to be realistic those former athlete’s level of education or status of their academic repute is questionable to begin with, because some of them did not pass WAEC before going abroad and of course some of them claimed to have earned degrees but never got employed with such degrees. For example, some of them claimed to have a General studies degree or recreation degree and others just hop about to say they attended a certain University. In fact, Solomon Ogba lays claim to Yaba College of Technology (a renowned institute) diploma and honorary doctorate from the Port Harcourt University for being instrumental in erecting a training facility. So clearly, Solomon Ogba is better skilled than former athletes (people) feeding under him because they are just clueless. Here is modus operandi of one them in street language, “Balinga wetin be your own, when you get there you chop your own and carry go”. This statement meant why are you concern and if its’ your turn, steal the funds and move on. This attitude towards sports development as a whole is the reason why the country status in sports worldwide had sank.
There were so many well intentioned former athletes that pulled all strings to assist the federation very early when Solomon Ogba was imposed by Patrick Ekeji, the former NSC director but gradually Solomon Ogba pushed all of them aside and now relied on his own cabal. In fact, he faced impeachment early in the first term before Bolaji Administration stacked the deck to return him as returning federation leader. That federation at no time ever published any of its financial records which is, contrary to the Companies and Allied Matter Act of the Law of the federation of Nigeria.
- The NSC must never outsource its athletes’ development duty again to any sports federation because those federations lacked authority or skills or competence to do so. The country right now are depending on over-age athletes for their youths and junior ranks. By the time these junior gets to senior level they have nothing left because they are usually late thirties most especially in athletics.
- The funding for any federation must be reviewed to a level where those federations must show good cause as against other private entities seeking NSC development funds.
- A Sports Development authority must be established to monitor development funds use by the recipients.
I rest for now.
Dr. Rashid A. Balogun, CPA, LLB(Hons.), LLM(London)