As it is said in local parlance, a good day is known in the morning. What this means is that incidents in the morning are oftentimes indicators of what will happen later in the day or what the day would turn out to be. It is, therefore, the belief of many that if they start a day on a good note, they will have a happy ending but if the morning is full of troubles, it portends a bad day.
A week ago, the 78th Congress of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) was held in Benin City Edo state where a new board for the football governing body was elected. The development came as a huge relief to many because before the election, there were desperate efforts by some aggrieved stakeholders to scuttle the process. To ensure the election was held as scheduled, the former board had to obtain a stay-of-execution order from the Appeal Court in Abuja. The Professional Footballers Association of Nigeria (PFAN) Special Task Force had obtained an ex parte injunction from a Federal High Court in Abuja to stop the election from holding.
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So, after so much hullabaloo and ballyhoo, a famous Zamfara State born football administrator, Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau, emerged as the next president of the NFF. Against all odds, the former Chairman of Chairmen defeated at least eight opponents at the election to achieve his ambition to lead Nigerian football.
Interestingly, the chairman of Enyimba FC, the most successful football club in Nigeria, Chief Felix Anyasi-Agwu, edged the People’s Democratic Party’s chieftain in Ebonyi State, Senator Obinna Ogba, to replace Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi as the first vice-president.
At the same election, one of the longest serving State football association chairmen, Alhaji Ahmed Yusuf popularly known as ‘Mr Fresh’ from Niger State was elected unopposed to replace Gusau as the new chairman of Chairmen in the new board.
Other board members also got elected to form the 15 man board of the NFF. (One more member is being awaited from South-east). However, at the moment, all eyes are on the trio of Ibrahim Gusau, Anyasi-Agwu and ‘Mr Fresh’ to spearhead the much desired revival in Nigerian football. Although they are being viewed as a chip of the old block, Nigerians want them to chart a new course for the good of the game in the country.
It is, therefore, disturbing that a week after their election, the new NFF board is yet to have its inaugural meeting. Instead, the three leaders are paying homage to their state governors and traditional rulers. Two days after he was elected president, Gusau was received by his state Governor Bello Matawalle in Abuja. He then proceeded to Gusau where he paid homage to the Emir of Gusau, HRH Ibrahim Bello to seek fatherly advice and royal blessings. In the same vein, Ayansi-Agwu and ‘Mr Fresh’ have met with their respective state governors.
I decided to peruse the controversial 2010 NFF statutes to see if there is any section in it that has clearly stated when the new board should have its maiden meeting. So, when I discovered that it is not too early for the board to meet, I had to raise this important alarm.
These men have every right to visit their benefactors but it shouldn’t be at the expense of the crucial assignment that has just been handed to them. It is only a mad man that goes to sleep when his house is on fire. What is expected of the new board is to hit the ground running. Unfortunately, this is yet to happen and those who want a breath of fresh air for Nigerian football are rightly disturbed.
Like I stated in my column last week, this is the right time for the new leadership to rebuild bridges that were burnt by the Amaju Pinnick led board and also address the nagging issues that are threatening the continued existence of Nigerian football.
So, instead of gallivanting, the newly elected board should meet without further procrastination to address, for instance, the grievance of the South-East which presently has only one member as against two as stipulated in the NFF statutes. Of course, a bad precedence was set when the former NFF president, Alhaji Aminu Maigari, was the only member representing the north east in the 2010-2014 board. But the time has come for the abnormality to be addressed. There are fears that if something urgent is not done to address the issue, a law suit might just halt activities of the present board.
Indeed, it is worrisome that after one week, the new board is yet to meet and there is even no indication that the executive committee members will meet anytime soon.
Sadly, other stakeholders have not seen the need to ask the spiritless leadership to wake up from slumber. Maybe, they are feeling that it is too early to say those who have been handed the mandate to lead Nigerian football for the next four years are sleeping on duty. Isn’t it better to cry when the head is not yet off?
Honestly, leadership is a serious business. Therefore, those who crave for it should be made to understand that when it is given, much is expected in return. When people make it look as if all they wanted was power or a fulfillment of their life time ambition, it gives cause for concern. So, it is not too early to ask Gusau and his lieutenants to get down to work immediately.