8 December 2012

Nigeria: Between NFF and NPL's Lingering Crisis

The lingering crisis that engulfed Nigerian football in the last decade took another twist on Wednesday with the chairman of the Nigerian Premier League (NPL), Chief Victor Rumson Baribote and his entire board been thrown out of office by 16 clubs after a marathon meeting that spanned through to the wee hours of Wednesday in Abuja.

The development came on the same day the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) had given approval to the NPL to go ahead with its 7th congress which they had earlier kicked against.

The 16 clubs out of the 20 registered premier league clubs, unanimously sacked Baribote- led NPL board, citing several accusations against the board including its failure to attract a title sponsor for the league, as reasons for their action.

The 16 clubs immediately set up an Interim Management Committee (IMC) headed by Mike Idoko of Sunshine Stars, Alloy Chukwuemeka, Promise Nwachukwu, Tony Ogola, Sabo Babayaro and Alhaji Sule Chindo and urged the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to recognize the interim committee. The NFF board met yesterday to deliberate on the matter, but all efforts to get the report before going to press yesterday were not successful. Whether the NFF will recognize Mike Idoko- led interim board or not will be another piece of cake for the media to feast on.

The Mike Idoko- led IMC also immediately cancelled the 7th Nigeria Premier League (NPL) congress which had earlier scheduled to hold last Thursday in Kano. Idoko told newsmen after the meeting that his committee has the mandate to organise the congress on or before December 10, 2012.

It could be recalled that from the very first day after the elections that brought in Aminu Maigari- led board of NFF was concluded, series of court cases took centre stage over the legality of the elections. As if that was not enough, the affiliate body, NPL, was also thrown into confusion as Davidson Owumi who took over from former NPL chairman, Chief Oyuke Obaseki was declared illegible and it took Baribote who contested against him almost year to reclaimed his mandate through court process.

But since he assumed office, the Bayelsa born club administrator has never enjoyed peace as he continued to run from one problem to another. The lingering case of who should own the title sponsorship rights of the country's top flight division is still rearing its ugly head and being fought in courtrooms as the quality of the nation's league continues to fade.

The purported impeachment of Chief Victor Rumson Baribote will not go down well with the league because it will throw the league into another major crisis that will not allow one to think how best to move the Nigeria Premier league (NPL) forward.

Check s by LEADERSHIP WEEKEND SPORTS revealed that the embattled NPL chairman, Baribote is heading to court to challenge his impeachment, insisting that he is still the chairman of the NPL.

He said he is not aware of any club owners legitimacy to throw him out of office. According to him; "I was aware not of any club owners' meeting. If any meeting is to be seen as legitimate, I as NPL chairman should have presided over such a meeting. Therefore, their decision is not binding on the NPL because it was not properly constituted."

Unconfirmed report alleged that Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) may not be unconnected with this latest movie in NPL in its attempt to flex muscles with the leadership of the league body. Just recently, the NFF showed its determination to launch a campaign aimed at destroying the fragile peace existing in the country's football when they brought in external auditors to check the books of NPL without removing themselves of the chains of fraudulent allegations that has continued to hunt them.

In a recent trip to London by the NFF president, Aminu Maigari and former technical committee chairman, Chris Green, it was alleged that aside their official reason of getting a new jersey for Super Eagles ahead of their South Africa 2013 Nations Cup campaign in January, they also tried to broker a deal with IMG Limited in the UK on behalf of the league board body without the prior knowledge of the NPL board.

This alleged usurpation of functions by the NFF officials, though they have since denied it, shows the high level of distrust and maneuvering going on within the Nigerian football hierarchy.

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