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NPFL Club Owners, go and sin no more

On Monday, October 17, the newly elected president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau, had a closed door meeting with about…

On Monday, October 17, the newly elected president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau, had a closed door meeting with about 13 Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), Club Managers who are erroneously called Club Owners. My comment may offend some of my friends but we are in a season of confessions.

Let’s speak the truth and shame the devil for the good of Nigerian football. These men themselves know that they are not club owners. Most of them are cronies of some state governors who appointed them to preside over government owned clubs. So, what makes them owners of these clubs? Well, this is a topic for another day.

So, according to the press statement from the Media Department of the NFF, the meeting between president Gusau and the club managers was held due to the urgent need to put in place a better-packaged, fulfilling and more fruitful NPFL, that will germinate a more beneficial football economy for all stakeholders.

Indeed, there were startling revelations from the meeting as contained in the  release by the NFF. However, we were not told what the president used on his guests or did that made them sing like canaries about the unwholesome practices in the Nigerian football league.

As if they spoke under duress, for the first time, the club managers were said to have confessed that the NPFL, since its inception has not lived up to the name of professional league in every sense of the word. This has always been the position of most football stakeholders but those who preside over the affairs of the league have never seen things the way they are.

However, this time around, the club managers repented and solemnly confessed that in the past six years, the league lacked sponsorship; TV coverage; good officiating; sufficient funding; match integrity; adequate remuneration of match officials; standard infrastructure; competent administrators and prize money for winners.

Without any doubt, the part that shocked new comers to Nigerian football the most was where the club managers confessed that matches in the NPFL are won on the basis of the highest bidder. It came as rude shock to some people but for those of us who have been following the ugly trends in the league, it was nothing new. Matches in the Nigerian league are always available for the highest bidder.

The confession session by the club managers is indeed a welcome development because in this part of the world, it is usually hard for people to confession their sins. Even when a sinner goes to his spiritual leader for confession, the real sins are oftentimes withheld. 

Therefore, I beseech those who are still livid at these men to temper justice with mercy. Coming out publicly to confess one’s sins is no mean feat. This was why instead of condemnation, some Nigerians hailed a former Deputy Senate president, Late Senator Ibrahim Mantu, when he publicly confessed in 2018 that he helped the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), to rig elections at all levels.

However, in as much as some of us may not see any need to throw away the baby with the bathwater, it is necessary to point out that the club managers have completely betrayed their colleague, Alhaji Shehu Dikko, who presided over the League Management Company (LMC), in the six years that the heinous crimes against Nigerian football league were committed.

 I put it to the club managers that they made the confessions because Dikko failed in his bid to emerge as the next NFF president. Had it been he was successful, none of them would have had the courage or temerity to openly accuse him and his LMC of any wrong doing. I am sure Dikko too will feel betrayed by his ‘cosmetic friends’.

But as it is said, when you point an accusing finger at someone, the rest point back at you. So, while they may want to make it appear as if Dikko’s LMC was solely responsible for the rot in the NPFL, the club managers  forgot to confess some of their sins which are well known. We all know that most of the club managers are specialists in owing coaches and players’ salaries. They have no iota of respect for contractual agreements. Some of them run the clubs like their private estates. They are not accountable to anyone. Even when they transfer players to foreign clubs, they don’t remit anything into the government coffers. 

Moreover, in order to hoodwink their employers that they are performing, the club managers go to any extent to win matches. So, some go as far as bribing referees and other match officials. In fact, some engage the services of tested and trusted marabouts (tactical men) while others employ thugs to harass and intimidate opponents. These are some of the sins the club owners hid from from the prying eyes of Gusau. 

Well, some of us may not be pacified by the confessions made by the club managers but it was a step in the right direction. It is never too late to make amends. I think the new NFF president is trustworthy so almost everybody, including the club managers, is eager to support him to succeed for the good of Nigerian football.

Therefore, like Jesus Christ said to the adulterous woman, the sins committed by the club managers have been forgiven. They should go and sin no more.  .