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NFF extraordinary congress and the illegal move to shift election

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BY OYETUNDE ADERIBIGBE

On December 29, 2009, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), at an Extraordinary General Assembly held in Abuja, adopted and approved a governance instrument for the football body, with effect from January 5, 2010.

The instrument was subsequently christened “2010 NFF STATUTES”.

Consequently, the statutes thus became a compelling law that must be obeyed, respected, and be totally submitted to by the bodies and officials of the federation in accordance with Article 7 of the new STATUTES.

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With the new governance instrument, football stakeholders, bodies, and officials alike began to discharge their duties in a more organised manner. There was less rancour or disorderliness. Football administrators nationwide became aware of what they can do or cannot do. It is s near-perfect system.

Between 2010 and 2014, there was order, sanity, and football growth round the national teams and grassroots development of the game was steady. The country’s leagues and club sides progressed and were much more competitive.

Then, it was always a joy to associate with Nigerian football. There was a lot of respect for all the world for our football. Officials of some Africa countries also found it expedient to visit Nigeria to understudy how football is administered and organised.

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All these were achieved simply because of the country’s dedication to rules of the game, honesty, focus on the Germaine things, and ultimately genuine passion to deliver on reason for being a football administrators.

The reverse is the case today. Administrators now focus only on self-preservation and aggrandizement while there is no more regard for rules, regulations, and laws of the game.

Even the most revered statute is being constantly abused, disregarded, and at times discarded like an old forgotten dusty paper.

At some point when the statuses were available and relevant, they were quoted upside down to serve selfish interests towards achieving narrow purposes. This deliberate attitude is dastardly, wicked, and highly dangerous.

The NFF’s uncanny actions of reveling in disobeying its statutes is an act that tantamounts to committing a serious breach of trust and absolute illegality. The most unfortunate is the ease at which stakeholders keep quiet in the face of NFF’s provocative gestures and obediently accept whatever is thrown at them hook, line and sinker.

Who will save our football from the cesspit of bewilderment and total collapse?

The latest of the NFF infractions of the statutes came on July 29 2021 through a notice sent to members of Congress with reference no. NFF/GEN/458/1/6, inviting them to the Extraordinary General Assembly slated to hold in Benin City, Edo State on August 8 2021.

According to the notice signed by the NFF General Secretary, the only agenda for the meeting is “Amendment of the 2010 NFF STATUTES”. The general secretary added that convocation of the meeting was at the instance of the Executive Committee of the organisation.

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Ordinarily, laymen would just read and concur with the spirit of the notice, taking it as a harmless invitation. But interestingly, it is more than what it is. The notice, as simple as it is, brutally infringes on Article 29, sections 3 and 4 of the 2010 NFF STATUTES.

While Article 29, section 3 states that “the members SHALL be notified of the place, date and Agenda AT LEAST ONE MONTH before the date of an Extraordinary General Assembly”. Section 4 of the same Article states that “when an Extraordinary General Assembly is convened on the initiative of the Executive Committee (as in this case), it must draw up the Agenda “.

Now, dealing with the first aspect which is section 3, a cursory look at the NFF notice dated July 29, 2021, notifying Congress members of an Extraordinary General Assembly slated for August 8 2021, a notice of ten (10) days instead of the least period of thirty (30) days provided for in Article 29, section 3 of the STATUTES. This is a gross disobedience of the law and a deliberate act of playing on intelligence of the stakeholders.

Similarly, in a dubious effort to sidestep the effect of section 4 of Article 29, NFF General Secretary, who failed to draw up agenda for the Extraordinary General Assembly in the notice he sent to members, merely stated that the Agenda of the meeting is “Amendment of the 2010 NFF STATUTES”.

This is quite lazy, vague and failed to comply with the relevant provisions of the STATUTES. Rather, it was just a clever way purposely designed to hoodwink members of the Congress into making hurried decisions on otherwise Germaine issues bothering on the fundamental and future of Nigerian football without proper and painstaking scrutiny, robust debate, and high-level consultation with members constituencies of whatever the STATUTES amendment proposal of the Executive Committee in order to get a concrete and generally acceptable document.

It is ridiculous to learn that NFF would only state that the Agenda for the meeting is just an amendment of the STATUTES when the same instrument requested the football house to draw up an Agenda.

If the amendment of the STATUTES is your Agenda, which aspect of the Articles and/or sections of the STATUTES are you proposing to the Congress for amendment? Or do you want to amend the entire 87 Articles of the STATUTES?

What really is the NFF hiding?

The answer may not be far-fetched. Intrigues, manipulation and high-wire political maneuverings often permeate the system whenever the NFF election is around the corner. There are always underhand tactics from the incumbents to outdo and strangulate both seen and unseen oppositions

Already, there are allegations that the incumbent NFF President is aggressively planning to contest for another term tagged “Third term agenda”. His cronies and aides have been saying the third-term ambition is sealed and delivered, despite the poor performances of the various national teams, in addition to the fact that domestic football is in shambles and at the mercy of glaring lack of development at the grassroots. It is therefore not surprising that this Extraordinary General Assembly is being convened.

Information filtering has indicated that the actual reason the impending meeting was called is to seek to amend the STATUTES to enable the leadership to shift the date of the Elective Congress from September 2022 to 2023, using the 2022 FIFA World Cup participation as an excuse.

If the election shift is attained, it would provide the incumbent President with a good and ample opportunity to prosecute the World Cup with its fat budget and a $10million guaranteed FIFA grant for participating in the 2022 World Cup.

Of course, the 2018 FIFA World Cup was a solid bounty and who would not want a repeat of such a wonderful windfall or do anything possible to have a repeat of that experience many times over, including trampling on the STATUTES illegally. But disregarding the STATUTES, particularly on this suspicious occasion, can only lead to a disastrous end. A word is good for the wise.

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