Ibrahim Gusau And The Task Of Credible Leadership At The NFF
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By Kehinde Osagiede
The leadership crisis that has rocked the Nigeria Football Federation for a long time which was acompanied by mistrust,lack of patriotism; favouritism and allegations of sleaze and the public odium that followed the immediate past board led by Amaju Melvin Pinnick seemed to have been laid to rest with the emergence of Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau as new president of the Nigeria Football governing body.
Amaju Pinnick who was president for two tenures had the right to contest for third term but was somehow prevailed upon to drop his third term ambition which many had considered unpopular and selfish.
Pinnick performance and personality as President of NFF at that didn’t give any thought to the sensibilities of the football stakeholders in the country and that attracted several sponsored media attacks irrespective of some noticable achievements. The game was over for the Delta man.
The Former Chairman of Chairmen of the Nigeria Football Federation(NFF) Aljaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau was elected president of the Nigeria Football Federation on 30th of September,2022 in a peaceful,free and fair election held in Benin under the auspices of Edo state government. And Edo government received accolades for its commitment to ensuring smooth transition process of the football house which was threatened by series of postponement and court injunctions sponsored by some powerful political actors.
The Zamfara Football Association chairman won the highly contested number one office of the Nigeria Football Governing body after polling 21 votes to beat other nine contestants at the 78th General Assembly and elective congress held at the Edo Heritage Hotel in Benin City on September 30,2022. The landslide victory of Gusau,no doubt was a convincing one which left no one in doubt as to his acceptance by the deciding factors during the election which gave credence to his capacity and capability to lead Nigerian football to a new height of development and progress.
The acceptance by the key political actors in the football industry,immensely sent a strong signal to the opposition camp and even the Federal Ministry of Sports who had no choice but to accept the Benin elective congress outcome and Ibrahim Musa Gusau as the duly elected president of the Nigeria Football Federation.
Amongst the ten individuals who jostled to succeed Pinnick as Nigeria football’s supremo include then vice presidents, Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi (1st VP), Mallam Shehu Dikko (2nd VP), and Executive Committee Member, Hon. Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande.
Others who were also in the race for the NFF top job were the immediate past General Secretary, Barr. Musa Amadu, and Head of Safety and Security of the CAF, Dr. Christian Emeruwa; Chairman of the FCT Football Association, Mallam Adam Mouktar Mohammed; former Nigeria international goalkeeper, Peterside Idah; former Chairman of Kano Pillars FC and respected technocrat, Alhaji Abba Abdullahi Yola and UK-based David-Buhari Doherty.
On the road to the election, former NFF 1st Vice President, Mazi Amanze Uchegbulam pulled out of the race, citing ‘not wanting to run foul of the ex parte injunction’ for his withdrawal.
Mr Paul Yusuf from Plateau State was disqualified as a result of invalid nomination just as Mr. Marcellinus Anyanwu from Imo State was similarly booted out of the race.
Yusuf, a former Bendel Insurance goalkeeper however saw his disqualification as unjust.
Three persons, Member of Board, Chief Felix Anyansi-Agwu; Member of Board, Senator Obinna Ogba and; Mr Chinedu Okoye battled for the post of 1st Vice President which Felix Anyansi eventually won.
Member of Board, Alhaji Yusuf Ahmed ‘Fresh’ replaced Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau as Chairman of Chairmen, as he was the only one who obtained the form, and cleared for the position unopposed.
Now that the hullabaloo is over, there is a sigh of relief and calmness in the Football house. There is great expectation. Stakeholders and the avid Nigerian public are waiting to see remarkable changes and acceptable performance that will guarantee progress and development of the game in the country.
Gusau who will be presiding over the NFF board for a four-year-tenure as president, after succeeding immediate past president Amaju Melvin Pinnick who led the NFF for eight years of two tenures will have to hit the ground running to effectively tackle alleged corruption in the system among other issues and set a new path and direction with fresh breath for the Nigerian Football.
The sinuous questions crossing the lines of the mind of football lovers are, can the Zamfara manager afford to let his people and the country down ; does he have the courage to clear the orgeant’s table and slush he met in the house? The other question is what kind of innovative ideas and workable plans and template is the new board putting on groud to fast tack Football development in the country?
As a matter of fact, Nigerian football has had undeserved setbacks and stunted growth as a result of lack of patriotism and pragmatism on the part of those who had been saddled with the responsibilities of managing its affairs.
Chief among the embarrassing happenings and unfortunate events common in the Nigerian Football circle is inability to settle bills incurred by National teams; the Super Eagles, Eaglets and the women teams, the Falcons and the Falconets.
Each time the nation’s football representatives step out of the country for international engagements, whether they post good results or not,the embarrassing news that usually follows next is either they are stranded or their allowances and bonuses had not been paid.
The domestic leagues have even suffered more. The issues of inconsistency in the nation’s Football calendar has become a norm. The Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) could be said to have been managed at fifty percent acceptable standard even though it is sometimes difficult for the League to end properly to get first finishers to meet up with CAF deadlines of sending representatives to Continental engagements.
The second tier League which is the Nigeria National League, to me is an orphan in its parents house. The NNL fondly called the most important League is very sick and needs urgent medical attention. The inconsistency in NNL is unimaginable and monumental. The major issue is lack of sponsorship and lack of funds to run the league. It is not out of place if one accuses NFF of abandoning the NNL in the wilderness to survive on its own or die.
The reasons are clear. For example, the 2021/2022 Football regular season of the NNL ended some months ago in an abridged format in which Bendel Insurance FC and Bayelsa United finished best in the southern conference while Doma FC and Elkanelmi Warriors finished best in the north and the champions of the League are expected to be determined in super four tournament which is supposed to have the four clubs, two from the north and south each who already qualified for promotion to the NPFL to finish the league at the super four tournament. It sad to note that up till now the end of October, the super four is still hanging in the balance. It was scheduled to hold in Bayelsa state at the beginning of October following the magnanimity of the Bayelsa state government to sponsor and host the super four tournament but unfortunately the heavy flood that wrecked havoc on the state and the nation’s coastal line has made it impossible for the tournament to hold, keeping the clubs involved in suspense.
One would have expected the NFF board in collaboration with the federal Ministry of sports to have intervene and move the NNL super four elsewhere and as well sponsor it to end the league before the commencement of the NPFL which the four promoted NNL clubs will be involved in.
The grass roots League Football (NLOs)which is supposed to be the breeding ground for the nation’s talents is nothing to write home about and needless to talk about it.
The area of our football and television is another source of worries. Nigerian leagues actions are not seen on Nigeria’s TV screens. This makes the League less attractive and affects followership. Me think it is time for such embargoes to be lifted if we want to move forward Some of the above cited issues and many others including poor officiating by referees are the workload in front of president Ibrahim Musa Gusau and his NFF board.
It is our hope that the new NFF board under the leadership of Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau will match words with action as they outlined in the communique issued after their inaugural
Executive Committee meeting held on Tuesday, 11th October 2022 at the NFF Secretariat, Abuja where they deliberated on important issues in Nigeria Football and resolved as follows:
- That the new board in its vision is to work proactively and energetically to ensure the real growth of the game of football in Nigeria in all its ramifications.
- That in order to diligently, purposefully and intentionally pursue its vision, the Board has identified the critical areas of football development at the grassroots, faithfulness to a properly-reasoned football calendar, earnest development of women’s football and adequate preparation of the National Teams for podium appearances at international tournaments as its focal points.
- That in view of the above, the Board admitted there would have to be aggressive marketing and sponsorship drive to generate the necessary funds to plough ahead with its plans, projects and programmes. While acknowledging the commendable efforts of the immediate past Board in this area, it resolved to work with even greater positive energy to attract the support of Corporate Nigeria to its programmes and activities.
- That in its determination to birth a new order in the general organization of Nigeria Football, the Board resolved that the calendar of each and every of the Leagues operating within Nigeria must be approved by the NFF before commencement, and ruled that the Federation Cup competition will now run alongside the Nigeria Professional Football League, and that it be accorded the respect and the seriousness of organization and attention that it deserves.
- The Board directed the NFF Legal Unit, through the General Secretary, to thoroughly and expeditiously study the NFF Statutes with a view to advising on how best to reconstitute the Boards of the Nigeria National League (NNL),Nigeria Women Football League(NWFL) and the Nigeria Nationwide League One (NLO), whose boards have been dissolved alongside the immediate past NFF Executive Committee.
6.The Board directed the NFF Technical Department to, within the next two weeks, come up with comprehensive guidelines to regulate and standardize the running of football academies in the country.
- In order to stem the tide of accumulation of debts, the Executive Committee opted to embark on a number of cost-cutting measures, and to acceed to frugal management of resources in the best interest of players and officials; Management and Staff, and Nigeria’s Football generally. The board vowed that every perceived area of waste would be cut or blocked as a way of fostering the spirit of prudence and financial discipline in the secretariat.
8.As a way of staving off needless embarrassments to the nation during international matches and tournaments, the Board resolved to, in line with present economic realities,dialogue and have regular conversations with players and officials of the National Teams on the need to make sacrifices now and again when the resources to meet their expectations are not readily available.
The outcome of the inaugural Executive meeting of the Gusua led NFF board is beautiful and quite captivating.
The plans and programmes are realistic and achievable if all members of the board particularly the president allows the fear of God be their guiding principles. The board will not only enjoy second tenure but would have written its name in gold if their beautiful plans designed against the highlighted issues hampering the game in the country are executed and implemented within the period of their tenure.
The first test for the Gusau NFF is the completion of the 2022 NNL through the proposed super four that the dreaded floods in Bayelsa and neighbouring states have forced to put on hold. The second is how the 2023 NPFL and the Federation Cup will commence and end. All eyes on President Ibrahim Musa Gusau and his team.