EXCLUSIVE: Why Nigeria Does Not Have Voting Right In International Olympic Committee – NOC President Habu Gumel
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By Amaechi Agbo
Ahead of Thursday’s Nigeria Olympic Committee’s election slated to hold in Jalingo, Taraba State, the incumbent President, Engr. Habu Ahmed Gumel has cleared the air on why Nigeria does not have a voting right currently at the International Olympic Committee, IOC.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with Best Choice Sports correspondent in Asaba, Delta State, over the weekend, Engr Gumel debunked insinuations in some quarters that he is the one blocking Nigeria from having a voting right at the international body.
“Well, let me make proper clarification, a clarification that Nigeria has no voting right in IOC. This is because IOC selects their members from different countries and those selected are members of IOC in their own countries.
“Like me I was elected in 2009, automatically I became an IOC member in Nigeria. In the whole of 54 countries in Africa, there are just about 15 IOC members.
“IOC is not a United Nations or Africa Union, that every country has a seat. Even when you go for IOC session, it is your name that is there not the name of your country. So to say that I am denying Nigeria from getting a vote, Nigeria has no voting right in IOC. The good thing is for me as a representative of IOC in Nigeria to make sure that I contribute in making Nigeria get alot of things from IOC. That is the most important thing.
“It does not mean that when you are president of NOC (in your own country) automatically you are an IOC member, no. From what I said earlier, in Africa there are many NOC (National Olympic Committee) presidents that are not IOC members. There are just about 15 IOC members in Africa out of 54 countries. There is no where that I in person blocked Nigeria. Some persons are just ignorant and do not understand the system
He repudiated reports in some quarters that Nigeria does not have voting right because he (Engr Gumel) is above 70 years and enumerated factors the IOC considers before a country is given the voting right
“There are indices that IOC considers. First and foremost: they look at participation in Olympic Games, the achievements and the kind of person. The person they choose may not necessarily be the president of the Olympic Committee. It could be somebody who is in the board and what he has achieved because they have the record of people they consider. So they select people from different countries and sometimes it is done based on
“They may look at the recommendation and consider if such a person is good for them. In IOC there are members that are not necessarily in sports. There are people who are bankers, writers, journalists who are IOC members – not necessarily that they must be sports men and women.
“Therefore, it is my duty to protect Nigeria and her interest. That is what I am doing. Yes, it is true that I have clocked 70 years old, but that does not mean that I am not active and doing what I am supposed to do to help Nigeria.
“I am not blocking anybody from becoming an IOC member. I did not block the voting right of Nigeria because there is nothing like that in the IOC. Countries do not go there and vote, there are members and these members are selected from different countries. IOC membership is a hundred plus in the whole world. The only thing that remains now is for them to wait till another time of election and IOC may pick an additional person from Nigeria.
“In my own case, I am an honourary member of IOC for life right now. By the virtue of my age. It is not about me alone, any where in the world, once you clock that 70 years, you automatically join. If you you reach 70 years but you have not served in IOC for 10 years, you are not an honourary member. But once you are 10 years and above, you become an honourary member for life. Everything IOC is doing, they will invite you, including sessions and games,” he said.
The Nigeria Olympic Committee election will hold on Thursday, December 15, 2022 in Jalingo, Taraba State.
Incumbent president, Engr Habu Ahmed Gumel has been cleared by the electoral committee to contest for re-election for four years in office. His previous years as the NOC boss has brought unprecedented development in Nigeria sports.