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How politicians surpassed ex-players in NFF polls

For the first time in the history of the Nigeria Football Federation election, this year’s election turned out to be between the former national team…

For the first time in the history of the Nigeria Football Federation election, this year’s election turned out to be between the former national team players and “politicians” who found their way into administration of football in the country.

But at the end of the day, the ex-players whose ranks have been divided lost out to the non-former players, who carted home all the positions.

The political God-fathers who worked behind the scene also put paid to the ambition of some ex-player to begin to have a say in the running of football in Nigeria to the advantage of the “politicians”.

Out of four former national team players that contested the polls, none of them won, while one withdrew on account of illegality.

Former Super Eagles skippers Christian Chukwu and Austin JJ Okocha were defeated from representing their zones, same for Dominic Iorfa and Mutiu Adepoju who were also rejected by the delegates.

The constitution of the board, which is dominated by politicians, is a clear indication that the nation’s football is far from reaching the Promised Land.

It was clear that the state football association chairmen who were given notice to vacate their seats for new elections before the national elections united to “teach” the so-called owners of the game a lesson, by even voting out the only ex-player (Iorfa) on the board.

Prior to the election on Thursday, there were three court cases, but the third one, which the authors claim was filed by Segun Odegbami turned out to be false, as Odegbami later disclaimed the purported court injunction.  

At a time, there were reports that Odegbami has backed out of the race, but he quickly dismissed the report, saying he was still in the race to clinch the NFF top seat.

“Having come thus far, I don’t have any reasons to withdraw. A general does not withdraw from the war.

“This war is to save Nigerian football and we must all collectively win it together.

“I have consulted widely and I am convinced with other stakeholders that this is the time for change”, said Odegbami.

Determined to correct the long years of ills in the nation’s football administration, a group of past Nigerian footballers stormed Abuja two days to the polls and marched in protest to demand the postponement of the elections.

The over 20 ex-internationals, representing different generations, stormed the Federal Secretariat office of the National Sports Commission (NSC) with placards. The protesters were supported by numerous youths with inscriptions, such as “No zoning of NFF Presidency’’ and “Nigerians support footballers.’’

Other placards had messages such as “Footballers are the answer’’, “Footballers dey work, others dey chop’’ and “Minister, please save our football.’’

The protesters, including former Super Eagles Captain Austin Okocha and Victor Ikpeba, were received by Chief Patrick Ekeji, the Director-General of NSC, on behalf of Alhaji Isa Bio, Sports Minister/Chairman of NSC.

Other ex-internationals in the group were Charles Bassey, Felix Owolabi, Tajudeen Disu, Nathaniel Adewole, Zion Ogunfehintimi, Moses Otolorin, Baba-Otu Mohammed and Aniete Ukoh.

The elections have come and gone, and the ex-players have again been taught a political lesson and unless they learn to unite and wake up from slumber, the administration of football will remain in the hands of the outsiders.

Felix Owolabi, spoke the minds of many ex-players, when he told a media briefing in Abuja that the former internationals would sustain the tempo of their quest to wrestle football administration in the country from the hands of politicians.

It now left for the ex-players to match their words with action or remain permanently out of the administration of the game they put their lives in danger to bring glory to the most populous black nation on earth.


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