Little more than four days remain before the much anticipated Nigeria Football Federation NFF elections, and the momentum is strong with more than 40 candidates approved for various positions on the next NFF board.
However, there is some level of worry and trepidation within the football community regarding the upcoming elections planned to take place in Benin City, Edo, on Friday, September 30, 2022. This worry ranges from legal injunctions to insecurity.
Since 2006, political intrigue and court injunctions have all interfered with NFF elections; this year won’t be any different.
The eagerly awaited elections for the NFF’s board, arguably the largest sports federation in Nigeria, recently faced a legal setback when some people took the organization to the federal high court, claiming that by choosing September 30 as the date for its elective congress, the NFF was trying to break the law.
Hon. Justice Inyang Ekwo of the Federal High Court 5 in Abuja, who was presiding over the lawsuit brought by Harrison Jalla, Rumson Baribote, and Austin Popo on behalf of the Professional Footballers Association of Nigeria against the NFF, Amaju Pinnick, Minister of Youth and Sports, ordered that the upcoming NFF elections be postponed and that parties should maintain status quo.
Further proceedings were then postponed until October 31st, 2022.The plaintiff had approached the court in mid-2021 demanding an amendment to the NFF statutes 2010 for equal representation for all the five statutory bodies making up the NFF in terms of voting rights and representation on the board, its congress and sub/standing committees.
It will be noted that the future of Nigerian football lies in the hands of a selected few delegates numbering 44 of them across the nation and this has been the bone of contention as aggrieved parties wanted an expanded delegate system.
This issue was however addressed when the Federal Government 10-year Masterplan Committee proposed the amended statute which is subject to the approval of the NFF Congress.
In a 55-page 2022 draft amended NFF statutes, it was gathered that the number of votes for the elections should increase from 44 votes to 111 votes.
With this was raging on, a group, named Nigeria Football Stakeholders, also wrote a threatening letter addressed to Sunday Dare and Amaju Pinnick, warning that cancelling the elections is the only thing that can stop them from bombing the venue.
Just after this occurred, some youths on Thursday under the aegis of Edo Progressive Youth Forum (EPYF) threatened to stop the elections
A statement signed by the spokesman of EPYF, Comrade Oseni Odia said the group’s decision is connected to the maltreatment melted on one of Edo illustrious son, Mr.Mike Oboh(now late) by the second Vice President of the NFF,Mallam Shehu Dikko who is a presidential candidate.
“It will interest the general public to know that our son, Mr.Mike Oboh worked for the League Management Company LMC for two years as a Match Delegate without pay. We pleaded with the Chairman of LMC who doubles as the second Vice President of NFF, when our son fell sick, and we got no concrete answer from him. His Colleagues in Abuja, pleaded with Mallam Dikko to pay our son’s two years indemnity to help cushion his medical bills, with no positive response, untill Mr.Oboh died on August 4,2022.
“We were dumbfounded when we read that the NFF has planned to conduct their election in our state, after all the evil done to our son; this we will resist, until all the entitlement of Mr.Oboh is fully given to his next of kin,” the statement concluded.
Despite all these setbacks, the NFF made public the agenda for the annual general assembly. It was gathered that a declaration of the annual general assembly has been convened and composed in compliance with the Statutes of the NFF.
The invited members and delegates to the 2022 Annual General Assembly which traditionally dissolves the current board will have the opportunity to resolve this present impasse without offending the order of the Abuja High Court.
With this, the NFF can go ahead with its General Assembly on September 30 and conduct the business of all the listed items on the agenda except those that have to do with the court order such as voting on proposals for amendments to the statutes, the regulations governing the application of the statutes.
Prior to this, the outgoing president, Amaju Melvin Pinnick had met with some of his possible successors urging them not to invoke the spirit of do-or-die for the race.
“I urge you all to go about the campaigns with utmost decency, avoid any form of acerbic outpourings and remember that we are all belong to the same family that worked for the best interests of Nigeria football for the past eight years. I wish each and everyone of you the very best with the voting college,” he said then.
A former NFF president, Alhaji Abdullahi Sani Lulu, has also urged the voting delegates to resist the temptation of voting along religion and regional lines.
“Our football has witnessed ups and downs and what we need right now is someone with an in-depth knowledge of football politics and administration across the African continent to restore our glory of football,” he said.
In the same vein, the Nigeria Football Progressive Forum (NFPF), comprising State Football Association (FA) chairmen, technocrats, grassroots football promoters, club owners and journalists have also appealed to the electorates to vote wisely by voting the right candidates, saying their decisions will make or mars Nigeria’s football.
The convener of the forum, Chidi Okonkwo, said the elections will spell doom or change the fortune of Nigeria’s football, and urged the electorates to vote wisely.
“We can be better than any country in the whole world football, if we do the right thing. Let’s put our heads together and do the right thing.
“Of course we all have interest in different capacities, but let’s put our heads together and make the right decision,” Okonkwo urged.
Nigeria football lovers wait with abated breath to see if the NFF elections will be conducted and successfully.
[…] polls had been bogged down in legal disputes, but a Court of Appeal decision on Thursday issued a stay-of-execution of an ex parte injunction […]
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