LMC Chairman and second vice-president of NFF, Shehu Dikko was on Channels Sports to shed some light on allegations made against the NFF by the Sports Minister Solomon Dalung. He also spoke on the impact of the NFF crisis on the NPFL as well as the proposed January 13 kickoff date and the NNL Super 8. Here are excerpts…
On the allegation by the minister that super Falcons did not have enough kits and washed their jerseys before games at the Africa Women Cup of Nations
Dikko: I will still go back to the mob action. I don’t think the minister was in Ghana himself. That was not the correct situation in camp. The girls had issues with their kits being delivered in time when leaving for Cote d’Ivoire. That one is known. And those kits were held back by the Customs in Abuja when Nike sent them. It took time to be cleared and delivered to them in Ghana. They had all the kits that they needed.
I don’t think anybody was washing any kits or what have you. The girls had enough kits as the Nike contract stipulated. They had enough house wear and those kits were delivered directly by Nike not by NFF. They normally package it and send to them. You cannot judge deliveries for AWCON with the World Cup. World Cup is the end of the football tournament.
The biggest of them all. The kind of deliveries to the World Cup team is surely different to the Nations Cup team. And I assure you that if the Falcons get to the World Cup, they will receive the same treatment as Super Eagles got at the World Cup, from Nike, NFF and all our sponsors as well. We have told them they will be in the same camp as the Super Eagles. So they have the right kits.
Dikko: ‘Falcons had five different sets of jerseys for each match at AWCON’
At the Nations Cup, each of the players had five different sets of kits for the five matches they played. You can confirm this from the players. They had enough house wear and stuff like that.
If any player decides to wash her jersey and wear that’s her business. May be, you know sometimes the players believe it gives them good luck. May be, if I score a goal with this jersey, I will want to wear the same jersey. Not because they don’t have another one to wear for the games. Nike supplied decent quantities of jerseys to the team for the Women Championship.
By and large I must go back to the NFF issues. The NFF has done the best under the circumstances. I think we have carried the minister along. Everything we have done we have informed him in writing. This is what we have done.
Every money that have come in from FIFA, CAF, sponsors, a letter is sent to the minister that this is what has come in, this is how it is going to be applied. The letters are there. The minister had gone to Federal Executive Council to defend the NFF during the World Cup budget defense that this is the first NFF that he has seen that gave him these details based on the records he has. So I don’t think we can turn out to be bad overnight because of certain issues.
Dikko: ‘We have carried the minister along in all our transactions’
We should focus on the good things that is happening to Nigerian football. We are human and we can make mistakes. Nobody is perfect. But at the end of the day, the collective benefit of football is what should matter to everybody.
All these mob actions where everybody is trying to ruin the brand of NFF. May be, because you don’t like Amaju or Seyi or Dikko or Sanusi or Ibrahim or what have you. It is just a privilege that we are the ones at the helm of affairs at the moment. Whether we like it or not, a time will come when other people will come and take over and run the NFF. So if you run the brand down, if you kill the brand and make it useless, who will come and work with it? Nobody.
We have been open. Anytime the minister calls, whether at midnight or whenever, we are available. We have taken our own details in front of him. He can correct us where he thinks we have made mistakes.
So I think, those people that go and give him the wrong information and make him feel they are genuine information, the minister knows what to do about it. We have just published our audited account. Everybody has seen it. The details are there. Nobody has doubted what is there.
Effect of the NFF crisis on the NPFL
Dikko: The league is supposed to run independently. It is supposed to source all the monies, all the partnerships independently, privately from the private sector. Any bad press or bad issue that comes out affects our marketing. This crisis that happened after the World Cup, the league is the biggest casualty.
We have told the minister about it and he has asked us to give him details to see what he can do about it. We have some major contracts we are supposed to sign that will help Nigerian football but that had to be postponed so that things can clear so we can move forward.
To start with, the timetable for the league was released since November 2017 and we had the plan to go on break during the World Cup. And that was why we played a lot of matches before the World Cup. Even during the World Cup, the league did not shut down. We had to make up for some outstanding matches. Like Enyimba, like Akwa, Plateau, MFM, who had played in the continent.
They played a minimum of four matches during the World Cup to make up for the matches they missed during the season due to their continental engagements.
By the time we came back from the World Cup, it was not possible to resume the league. By the time we were ready to resume the league, we had just five weeks or thereabout to the deadline CAF gave for us to submit our teams to play on the continent.
And we had another 14 match days to play and eight match days to play in the Aiteo Cup. It will be impossible to meet the deadline. So a decision was taken to do what we did, that is to end the league and plan to start by November. That is also the date CAF expected us to start so that we can finish in May (2019).
All that was done by August 30. And we thought everything was settled. All of a sudden we had this issue about promotion, no promotion, eight teams, four teams and what have you. That now delayed the resumption of the league till 13th of January. And I think now common sense has waded in and everybody is talking.
We have agreed on what to do. Everything will be resolved and the league will commence on 13th of January. Then we will see how we can recover some of the commercial things we have lost over this period.
Dikko: ‘Lobi and Rangers’ progress on the continent has justified our decision to end the league’
The NNL have made their plans. I think they want to start on the 5th, I guess, to finish on the 8th or 9th.Because of the holidays they are giving the teams time to arrive. I think the 3rd or 4th. Everything around that end is being sorted.
We will get it done and we can start the league. We have learnt our lessons from what happened. And see how we can avoid the mistakes going farther. At the end of the day, Nigerian football is the biggest beneficiary. Already the decision we took to put Lobi on the continent has paid off.
They have qualified for the group stage (of CAF Champions League) meaning the decision has worked. If it didn’t work, we would have taken the flak as well. Rangers are on the verge of qualifying for the (CAF Confederation Cup) group stage, God willing. Everything is coming back to normal.
We will learn these lessons and build on it going forward. There are a lot of things that need to be done, to get the league better. We need to focus on those issues. Everything will turn out as planned and at the end of the day, all these crisis will be (for) the best.