A veteran international footballer, Arthur Ebunam, says the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development (FMYSD) did not have the power to suspend or stop the conduct of elections into Local Football Councils (LFCs) and Anambra State Football Association (FA).
Ebunam made the assertion on Friday in Awka while reacting to a letter from the ministry, dated Oct. 5, 2020, which has put the elections on hold and summoned the Anambra Sports Development Commission (ASDC) management and other stakeholders to a meeting in Abuja on Oct. 12.
The LFCs and FA board elections have been scheduled for Oct. 29 and Oct. 30 respectively at the Bishop Obiefuna Retreat Centre, Awka, while sale and return of nomination forms had since commenced on Oct. 2 and will end on Oct. 12.
The letter signed by Gabriel Aduda, Permanent Secretary, said it was in response to the petition by Ifeanyi Ubah, the immediate past chairman of the FA and directed that all activities leading to the elections be put on hold.
“The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is investigating the crisis surrounding the Anambra State Football Association election based on a petition authored by Sen. Ifeanyi Ubah.
“Consequent on the above, I wish to invite you to a Ministerial Roundtable with other stakeholders on the issues relating to the Anambra State Football Association election.
“By this development, it is imperative that the FA and other parties put on hold all activities relating to the football election in the state immediately, pending the outcome of this meeting,” it said.
It will be recalled that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) had set up a committee on Aug. 2, with the mandate to conduct elections within three months which will elapse on Nov. 2.
Ebunam, who is the chairman of Ex-Rangers Intertional Players in Anambra, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) that only the NFF which manages football and mandated the committee had the powers to suspend or stop the elections.
He described the ministry’s letter as a distraction and against the principles guiding administration of football under FIFA.
He urged the ministry not to fall into the temptations of dabbling into FA matters which would be viewed as government intervention and could likely attract negative consequence to the country.
“The Federal Ministry of Sports does not have powers to act on FA matters, they cannot stop the elections because it is not in their place to do so.
“Only FIFA, CAF and the NFF have powers to do that, they gave the mandate and they are the only people that can change it, it is wrong for the ministry to order the FA to stop a process that is already in motion.
“The implication is that it will be viewed as government interference, that will make FIFA and CAF to come in with their hammer,” he said.
Tony Oli, Chairman of ASDC, confirmed that he had seen the letter after it has circulated online for a while.
When contacted, Joseph Akanji, Special Assistant to the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, said he could not speak on the letter which was a policy matter.
According to him, “It is purely a policy matter, I am not empowered to speak on it.”
Greg Ndu, a football enthusiast said there was nothing wrong in the ministry intervening in federation or association matters.
Ndu said sports bodies at all levels depended on government for funds and should not claim to be entirely independent.