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The battle for NPL board

Any election in Nigeria, be it community, local government state or national, goes with it intrigues, manipulation and high level campaigns by candidates and their…

Any election in Nigeria, be it community, local government state or national, goes with it intrigues, manipulation and high level campaigns by candidates and their followers; and the NPL election will not be different from the rest.

Already intense campaigns have been mounted by candidates, interest groups, followers and sponsors who are scheming to have their own elected into the board of the Nigeria Premier League.

Horse trading has already commenced, just as re-alignment by individuals and zones has gained ground.

Like in partisan political elections, some state governments have given their backing to particular candidates; and have gone a step further to mobilise support for such candidates using state apparatus to garner votes for them at the March 3 election.

As expected, stiff opposition is expected for the position of the Board’s chairman where five candidates are in the race for the top office.

The Nigeria Premier League (NPL) Electoral Committee announced last week Thursday that out of the nineteen people that picked nomination forms, only sixteen returned their forms to contest the polls.

The candidates include incumbent Chairman Chief Oyuki Jackson Obaseki, Chairman of the Bayelsa United FC Chief Victor Rumson Baribote, S.A to the Ondo State Governor on Sports Akin Akinbobola, Lumumba Adeh, former NRA President Dr. Sam Sam Jaja and Davidson Owumi.

However, as at Friday last week, when the electoral committee shut its doors against the return of completed nomination forms, Chief Obaseki did not show up, ruling him out for return to the Adenuga House.

Adeh and Owumi were the last to join the NPL Chairmanship race, having picked and submitted their forms on Friday, the last day set aside for doing so.

Owumi had over a week earlier obtained a form for election as the Chairman of Club Chairmen, a position that makes him one of the seven members that would make up the new board, but he was to return to obtain the chairmanship election form late last week.

According to Al-Hassan Yakmut, Secretary of the 2010 NPL Electoral Committee, who confirmed the development in Abuja, “the duo of Adeh and Owumi have now made the chairmanship race a five-man battle”.

Obaseki and 18 others had obtained nomination forms, but by the deadline for the return of nomination forms he and two others were the only ones who failed to meet the deadline.

The other two are present board members Ray Nnaji and Suleiman Kwande, who had joined the 2006 to 2010 board as representatives from the South East and North Central zones respectively.

In the case of Adeh, who was the Vice-Chairman of the NPL board at its inception in 2005 as an Interim Management Committee for one year, he obtained the form late last week.

He is believed to be eyeing a return to the board through his North-Central Zone, and Kwande’s withdrawal is being linked to Adeh’s entrance into the race, with his main focus being the board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).

Adeh, who served in the then NPL board with present NFF President Sani Lulu, had lost in the 2006 elections into the then NFA chairmanship position to Lulu, and had recently indicated interest in contesting for the NFF presidency.

Other contestants to the board election are Current NPL Vice Chairman Alhaji Shehu Garba Gusau is the only candidate seeking election for the Vice Chairman position, while Davidson Owumi and Kaduna State Commissioner for Inter-Governmental Affairs Abdullaziz Mohammed are running for the position of Chairman of Chairmen.

Also seeking re-election into the board are the Chairman of Mighty Jets FC, Mallam Suleiman Kwande, former Commissioner of sports Enugu State, Barrister Ray Nnaji, former Wikki Tourist of Bauchi Chairman Alhaji Abdullahi Danbaba and Mr. Joe Amene.

Other candidates for the board position include; former member of the Interim Management Committee of the NPL, Elder Bode Oyewole, Vice Chairman Kwara United FC, Alhaji Abdulrasaq Owolabi, General Coordinator Gombe United and SA to Gombe State Governor on Sports, Mallam Farouk Yarma Adamu, and Retired Brigadier General Emma Okaro.

Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), the parent body of football administration in Nigeria, aware of the intensity of the build-up to the election, last Thursday called for transparency in the conduct of the election.

NFF General Secretary, Bolaji Ojo-Oba gave the charged when the 7- man Electoral Committee headed by Tony Rafua paid him a courtesy call at the NFF Glass House.

Ojo-Oba noted the need for a credible elections that will be transparent and flawless, saying “As a Federation, our major concern is that the election must be conducted in a transparent manner, also our focus should be are we doing what is the best interest for Nigerian football? If NFF has deemed it fit not to interfere in the electoral process it therefore means that nobody has the right to interfere, please do things properly.

“Don’t shift the goal post in the middle of the game .Give everybody equal opportunities and even field .I’m quite sure that the NPL itself wanted to have a credible and transparent election that is why they have toed the path of CAF and FIFA in their electoral guidelines

“We are to guide and supervise elections and that is just what we as a Federation is going to do”.

Speaking earlier, Rafua says as stipulated by CAF and FIFA and it is part of our statutes their mission was to see the chieftains of the Federation because the NFF is the supervising body for the election.

“For the past three weeks we have commenced preparation for the NPL elections and out of the nineteen candidates bought forms only 16 returned their forms. Screening of the candidates as Board members will start on Friday while that of Chairman and Vice Chairman will take place next week Wednesday.

Rafua who assured that the electoral committee will abide with the statutes of the electoral guidelines, says “our screening will be open and transparent we are planning to invite members of the security services and sportswriters to witness the live transmission”.

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