20 August 2018

Nigeria Set to Escape FIFA Ban!

Photo: Daily Trust
The Nigeria Football Federation.

With the Monday noon deadline given to Nigeria by football world governing body, FIFA, to correct the anomaly in the administration of football in the country about to expire in few hours from now, there appears to be hope that the country may escape the hammer.

THISDAY learnt at the weekend that the Presidency in Abuja has made contact with FIFA on the deadline, assuring the men in the Football House in Zurich, Switzerland that there was no need for the ban as only the Amaju Melvin Pinnick led board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) was in charge of football matters in the country.

As a member nation of FIFA, the Presidency is believed to have also given FIFA the assurance that football will continue to be run in the country in accordance with internationally acceptable (FIFA) statute.

Vice President Yemi Osinbajo was reported to have contacted FIFA and gave the assurance that there was no other party recognized by the Federal Government of Nigeria beyond Pinnick as the duly elected President of the NFF.

It was further learnt that the world football governing body was also told that the nation's security chiefs have been briefed on the development and that there can be no any form of invasion of the football secretariat by Chris Giwa and his colleagues claiming to have a court ruling in their favour.

In the wake of the fresh invasion of the Glass House in Abuja by Giwa and his factional members, FIFA had given today as the deadline for Nigeria to recognise Pinnick and his executive committee as the authentic body to administer football in the country following their election four years ago in Warri, Delta State or face suspension from football.

The inability of the Federal High Court in Jos to vacate the ex-parte order given banned Giwa last Friday heightened fears in the country that the ban of Nigeria on Monday was imminent.

Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, who has never hidden his support for his kinsman Giwa, discountenanced the threat from FIFA, insisting that the Plateau State football proprietor has a court judgment in his favour.

But the top government official who spoke with THISDAY on the matter yesterday asked Nigerians to thank President Muhammadu Buhari and his Vice President Osinbajo for acting promptly to avert the ban that would have thrown Nigeria's participation in the AFCON 2019 in jeopardy.

"Nigerians need to thank President Muhammadu Buhari and his vice, Osinbajo for bailing the country out of the needless crisis Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, was planning to plunge Nigerian football into with his backing for Giwa.

We are all fully aware that what took place on August 26, 2014 at Chida Hotel in Abuja was nothing but a charade. That election had no FIFA backing nor was it in accordance with FIFA and NFF statutes," observed the top official from Abuja.

"Pinnick and his executive committee have been told to continue with their works. Any attempt by any element to disrupt activities at the football secretariat in Abuja will be visited with the full weight of the law," concludes the official who could not be quoted due to his position in one of the government security agencies.

Meanwhile, Former Vice President CAF Board Of Appeal, Chief Amanze Uchegbulam has warned about the danger of Nigeria been banned from global football.

Uchegbulam said the country's sporting authorities under Dalung has no choice than to abide by rules governing association football even as he counseled the sports minister on the dictates of football diplomacy and procedure.

"On the issue of FIFA ban, my advice is that we must do everything to avoid it; it will never be of any good to Nigeria; and in any case, the current executives can only be removed by the NFF Congress presided over by the present incumbent because that is the way Association Football function," noted Uchegbulam who incidentally was a former NFF vice president .

Speaking further, Uchegbulam was irked over the faux pas generated following the correspondence between the minster and FIFA in the quest to resolve the on-going crisis in the NFF even as he advised the minister on future undertakings.

He noted: "I am most saddened to read that our minister of sports reportedly wrote to FIFA through our Ambassador in Switzerland requesting for an appointment to visit with about 17-man delegation. I actually would want to believe it didn't happen.

"More disappointed, to say the least, is that the purported delegation comprised of highly respected football administrators, who had served in various committees in FIFA/ CAF.

"Should the story be true, then the technocrats in the ministry had failed in their responsibility to advise the honourable minister because it had been a reoccurring thing with several past ministers and FIFA had been consistently pro-affiliate body in dealing with such requests.

According to Uchegbulam, Nigeria would be saved from further embarrassment if the minister consult widely before taking action that are inimical to the growth and development of Nigerian football.

"My advice to the Minister is to seek the help of those that wouldn't necessarily tell him what he want to hear but the plain truth and such people are abound in the football family; enough of the jigsaw, " concluded.

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