14th September, 2010
It seems the era where sports administrators dipped their hands into public till and tookÂ the much they could is over as some sacked officials of the Nigeria Football Federation,Â NFF, were arraigned last week for alleged fraud. In spite of reports about alleged fraudÂ perpetrated in the past by sports administrators, it would be the first time fat cats wouldÂ be dragged to court.
The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, hauled the former chairman of NFF, SaniÂ Lulu, his erstwhile deputy, Amanze Uchegbulam, former secretary-general, Dr. Bolaji Ojo-ObaÂ and technical director, Taiwo Ogunjobi, before an Abuja High Court for allegedÂ misappropriation of about N1.2 billion.
The money was meant for the Super Eaglesâ€™ preparation for the FIFA World Cup that took placeÂ in South Africa in June/July this year. They were also accused of issuing 1,263Â complimentary tickets to friends, associates, political support groups and family relationsÂ and allegedly paid $800,000 to 220 Nigerian delegates whereas only 49 people were authorisedÂ NFF officials while the rest were friends, associates, etc.
Their trial will send the right signal to those who will take over as elected administratorsÂ of football that they canâ€™t get away with mismanagement of funds meant for either theÂ development of football generally or for specific purpose like the case of the recent WorldÂ Cup where enough funds were provided but the administrators chose to deploy same in a mannerÂ that did not yield positive result.
Since football unites this country like no other thing, the administrators must always beÂ conscious of the way they handle affairs concerning the game. Nigerians are so passionateÂ about football that they become broken hearted each time our national teams perform belowÂ expectations. Nigerians do not care about the part of country a player comes from. All theyÂ are interested in is the result.
Most times, the male national team, the Super Eagles, perform poorly because ofÂ maladministration. Most of the administrators in the NFF have no business being there. It isÂ the desire to line their pockets that has kept them there. They do not care about theÂ dwindling fortunes of the game as long as there is money there for them to share.
The voided NFF elections which were conducted last month ought to have brought about theÂ much needed change but they were conducted against a subsisting court order. Some peopleÂ were so desperate to take over the Glass House that they pulled all the strings to ensureÂ that the elections were conducted without following laid down procedures.
The time has come for us to elect the right people to run the nationâ€™s football. OurÂ football administrators should stop groping in the dark. They should learn how football isÂ successfully run in other countries and apply the same principles here to uplift the game.Â Our administrators should stop toying with the passion of millions of Nigerians.