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My FIFA Presidency: My Final Comments – A public Inquest Is Required!

Issa Hayatou will lead FIFA for the nest 90 days.

Issa Hayatou will lead FIFA for the nest 90 days.

This will be my last piece on my FIFA election odyssey, an experience so brief but yet so rich and beautiful.

I deliberately choose to look on the brighter side of that adventure, the side that celebrates the “audacity of faith’, that leaves the legacy of self belief in thr capacity of our youths to dream big and be any thing they choose to be by simply ‘daring’.

My philosophy teacher tells me ‘not to curse the darkness but to behold it, for underneath it is a hidden treasure’. I rest my case on that wise counsel.

Now let me look at the main issues of the entire project.

To start with I knew that to become the president of FIFA was never going to be a stroll in the park. It would take tears, sweat and blood as we are already witnessing in the unfolding drama in FIFA.

Everything tells me that the drama of the 2016 FIFA Presidential election has not ended.

I was taken off the plane as it prepared for take off, left holding on to the straws of my ambition by those who were themselves not prepared to embark on the journey and would not let anyone else do so.

Short as my part was in the drama it was a great experience whilst it lasted. I saw the resurgence and the celebration of hope in many people. It was going to be a blockbuster script of an adventure where Nigeria would have created unprecedented global excitement by daring to be the first black country in the world to climb the Everest of the politics of football administration.

A few months ago such an ambition would have been considered a heresy, but by the time of the deadline for submission of documents last week, Nigerians were brimming with determination and the winning spirit.

All of that has come to naught, no thanks to a few persons that may have chosen parochial self-interest ahead of national interest.

I want to put the records straight for the purpose of history only. Everyone involved will confront their own demons, as they will reap abundantly from what they have sown, so say all the Holy Books. So, permit me to state some of the fundamental facts without going too deep into the details of all that transpired.

Sepp Blatter had just resigned five days after winning yet another re-election. The stage was set for a massive purge of most of the executive members of FIFA following the unprecedented corruption scandal that had engulfed the organisation. There was an opportunity for Africa to produce the next president because what the situation demanded was a brand new, untainted leader with the right pedigree and credentials!

I took the bait and for the first time in my life I did all the preliminary political strategizing and background consultations. Most importantly I prayed for God’s guidance before embarking on the most challenging of journeys.

I was very aware of the several odds against me.

To start with, I am not considered a friend by the NFF because I do not belong to the system that has been controlling the strings of Nigerian sports since 1993 when Chief Alex Akinyele, without knowing the import of what he was doing, committed the gravest and greatest error in the history of Nigerian Sports by appointing a sole administrator for the Nigeria Football Association.

That innocuous decision eventually led to the financial asphyxiation of all the federations, transformed the NFA into a body that even the government that funds it could no longer control, converted FIFA into a monster that makes Nigerians to catch cold any time FIFA coughs. Nigeria has now inherited a 4-yearly ritual at its federation elections that would make the corruption scandal in FIFA look like child’s play.

Being a writer and a newspaper columnist compounds my own matter. You cannot be an honest critic and have many friends left in the football system. So, I am not many stakeholders friend because of the views I express in my writings that would sooner or later not favour them.

That’s why I am not Amos Adamu’s friend in the true sense. That’s why he could come out, fresh from his global suspension, when he should have quietly lived his life without drawing too much attention to himself, and championed the cause of convincing former Governor Orji Uzor Kalu to run for the FIFA presidency, and for all Nigerians to support him and not me.

He threw caution to the wind! Amos Adamu would never support me under any circumstance, and I know that fact.

I am not Sepp Blatter’s or even Issa Hayatou’s favourite person in football. There has not been a more virulent critic of both men about their perpetual stay in office and their absolute control over national football federations with the awesome power of incumbency at their disposal.

Amaju-Pinnick

NFF president, Amaju Pinnick

In the case of Amaju Pinnick, I know he respects me a lot. Like so many others in the football system, he appreciates my humble contributions to football and, like the others, he would rather I stayed away with my ‘puritanical’ ways, and not stir up the dust of the activities in that agency of government.

So, against all these odds my chances of getting a straight-forward nomination by the NFF were slim. What happened in the end, therefore, did not come as a complete surprise.

My only hope was based on the change mantra of the new political dispensation in the country of which I was a major actor in my community. I believed the reforms in all other sectors would infect sports enough to ensure that no one dared deal with sports issues with the impunity of the past.

I believed that the fear of PMB would affect attitudes in sports.

I was wrong. Otherwise the shenanigans and rigmarole that went on in nominating me for the FIFA election would never have taken place.

The NFF President went on television several times and promoted Orji Kalu’s candidacy and suugested that the NFF were considering who to nominate between the two Nigerians that had applied for nomination. Orji Kalu issued a press release on the final day of submission of documents to FIFA that he never indicated or applied for nomination.

So, why the seven weeks charade about who the NFF would nominate?  Not even once did they contact me or responded to my letter despite my public protestations.

Even at the last minute when they finally did on Thursday October 22, four days to the deadline for submission of documentation they did not give me any nomination letter. They did nothing. The information was leaked to the press after Amaju called me, for the first time in 7 weeks, to tell me that he was going to call his board members and convince them to nominate me.

The NFF were made to nominate me by the pressure coming from government when it got to know that the deadline was only two–working days away. Left to the NFF they would never have responded, and as been wont in sports since 1993, nothing would happen, no one will raise any issues, the victims of their inaction can go jump into the Atlantic and die!

With even more pressure from government, what did they still do? The letter addressed to FIFA and copied to my mailbox was sent to me at 2pm on the final day of submission, October 26, following my protestations to various persons in government and even outside it.

At that point even if I was a magician I could not have got five endorsements from 5 different countries in the 10 hours to midnight of the final day.

That Amaju volunteered to seek the endorsements, as good intentioned as that may be, was really to fulfill all righteousness, that the NFF did all it could to support me. He knew it could not be done, with the forces of opposition around him in Cairo – Issa Hayatou sitting and observing every African federation president, and the presence and influence of Amos Adamu, who had a preferred candidate, not me.

I stood no chance of getting any country to endorse me.

Whereas, the endorsements could have been done weeks earlier when I traversed the West African coast, spoke with several of my friends in CAF, and hired a European consultant to seek out fringe European countries that could accept me as an option to Michel Platini should he fail to be accredited.

What every federation president I spoke to wanted was a letter showing that the well-publicised but non-existent ‘crisis’ in Nigeria about whom the country was nominating had been resolved. Was it Orji Kalu, supported by the NFF publicly, or myself? No one would grant an endorsement when Nigeria had not nominated me. That was my dilemma.

Interestingly, as Amaju Pinnick was seeking endorsements for me on the final day in Cairo, Orji Kalu’s aides in Nigeria issued a press release stating that the former governor never applied for nomination from the NFF in the first place, and curiously, at the same time, was withdrawing from the FIFA race. He thanked all those that had had been clamouring for him to contest!

That is a statement that speaks volumes about the whole shenanigans that played out. Were Nigerians been taking for a ride by the NFF? Or what?

That’s why I believe that Nigerians must not allow this to go the way of old, where people in government just did whatever they wanted with impunity and got away with it.

Nigerians must look beyond the personalities involved and focus on what could have been lost through this impudent action – sending the wrong message to the youths that they cannot dare to dream, that individual interest supersedes national interest, and that we can forfeit our rights to take a decision for our own good to a foreign power for paltry economic patronage.

That’s why it is important that an enquiry be set up to look at the cause of this colossal wastage of a life-time opportunity that had no stakes attached, nothing to lose but a whole world of opportunity to gain.

The Federal government, the National Assembly, the National Sports Commission, must probe and investigate what really happened so that such would never repeat itself again.

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28 Comments
  • Isaac Boro

    What are u talking about? Orji Kalu is a THIEF. However, your thoughts are incoherent. Next time look for a seasoned journalist to put your thoughts to paper. We can’t all be journalists. Guardian newspapers take note.

    • tony

      You mean you can’t understand all the pointers in this write-up. I’m not too surprised, that is the bane of most Nigerian youths nowadays courtesy of our warped education system. But like my people used to say in Yorubaland; “Agidigbo drum is normally beaten in parables, only the wise can dance to it and only the knowledgeable can interprete it.

    • Babatoks

      I do not see what is incoherent here. Are you a journalist or mass communication graduate? Just wondering how anybody can say “your thoughts are incoherent” to a write-up like this, if they are not prejudiced.

      • Isaac Boro

        First and foremost @Babatoks go and read the book titled Pride and Prejudice. The problem with the yoruba race is that apart from a few good people amongst you like the great Alaafin of Oyo, late Babatunde Fafunwa, generous MKO Abiola, Ebenezar Obey and may be the Olubadan ….. the rest of you are bigoted fools wallowing in a demented self aggrandisement of barbaric hyperbolic eulogy of self deception as a learned race whilst most of u are infact bunking and bumbling idiots touting Wole Soyinka as your sole example on the road to ignoramus perfidy. Like most yoruba writers Segun Odegbami is an incoherent and incomprehensible illiterate. Go and read Chinua Achebe’s “Things fall apart”. Most importantly go and read the primary school book by Chinua Achebe titled “Eze goes to school”. Just because Segun Odegbami has access to FREE Yoruba press does not exculpate him from your yoruba national ignominy of hallucinatory don quixotism.
        Before then we can only say —- illiterate @Babatoks:disqus GO to school. Don’t bother to reply in your copy and paste plagiarism. Bye.

        • tony

          Maligning and deriding a world acclaimed literary giant in the person of Soyinka has shown you to be nothing else but a world class ignoramus per excellence. I won’t contend with you beyond that for virtually all your comments here are normally done with ethnic coloration and tribal bigotry. Lastly, “Eze goes to school” was written by Onuora Nzekwu. It was actually “Chike and the river” that was written by Chinua Achebe.

          • Isaac Boro

            “Eze goes to school” was written by Professor Chinua Achebe. Dysfunctional illiterate.

          • Papaosun

            As it is common with your race, you tend to think you are wiser than every other person around you. But unknown to you, people know you are a fool and are merely watching you ‘dance nakedly’. That is why the Hausa man will never trust the best Igbo man for anything but put him on watch. Yoruba can tolerate the igbos but they are not unmindful of their tacts and will at best keep the Igbo at arm’s length. Even in your domain, do you not arm twist yourselves? Your ‘charity’ truly starts from home. If I may offer you a piece of advise, go and apologise to God for fighting your fatherland then HE may forgive you and grant you a new first class citizenship. Otherwise, you’ll continue to dance around the masquerade but will never wear its dress.

          • Isaac Boro

            Idiot na your papa be masquerade and your mama is wearing masquerade dress. Ask your mama to say ”How are you” she will say …..”Ow Har you”. Do you honestly think I should waste my erudite lexicography with a heaven forsaken and failed race like most of the yorubas? Fighting which fatherland? Was it not the THIEFMAN AWOLOWO who betrayed Ojukwu? And then stole and nationalised Biafran property. See how your so called General Oladipo Diya was sweating and urinating before a small boy Mustapha out of fear. Most of you are treacherous cowards.
            Already Tinubu is a failure, Osibajo a traitor and Fashola an imbecile traitor. Ask your criminal new Ooni of Ife to hurry up with his so called ‘rites’ (to the devil) abi ‘wrongs’ because EFCC is waiting for him. Dysfunctional illiterates!

          • UnklGee

            You should have responded to the imbecile directly not to his race. You do not know for certain that he is Igbo, do you?

          • Papaosun

            That may be true I agree. Many thanks for that dear UnklGee

    • Prince T

      people like you make others to call nigeria zoo and a dead nation. i will advise you to delete your comment

    • Bernard

      If Isaac Boro does not understand the write-up, he must go back and read it again because I strongly believe he did not read it the first time. Why would somebody make comment with inadequate information? However, if Isaac believe he has read the whole article and still does not know the answer to his first question, then he must go back to school. You do not need a seasoned journalist to write well.

    • UnklGee

      Isaac Boro (with your boro-d (borowed) name…your own thinking clear so? Are you an example of a seasoned journalist?

      God forbid!

      • Isaac Boro

        May your devil welcome u @unklGee. The Almighty GOD has already forbidden u and your ilks @UnklGee the paedophile.

        • UnklGee

          Your thinking clear so? Borrow (Boro), na question I ask.. u assume another man’s name (do you know Isaac Adaka Boro?) and you bring odium and opprobrium upon yourself and that honourable name by your vile speech and manners. If your brain was not covered by vile and bile which you spew like a second nature, you will know that when you curse someone the curse advertently or inadvertently is upon you. So please curse me more.

          • Isaac Boro

            Evil @unklgee:disqus Ask your mama to say ”How are you” she will say …..”Ow Har you”. Do you honestly think I should waste my erudite lexicography with a heaven forsaken and failed race like most of the yorubas? Fighting which fatherland? Was it not the THIEFMAN AWOLOWO who betrayed Ojukwu? And then stole and nationalised Biafran property. See how your so called General Oladipo Diya was sweating and urinating before a small boy Mustapha out of fear. Most of you are treacherous cowards.
            Already Tinubu is a failure, Osibajo a traitor and Fashola an imbecile traitor. @unkleGee u are a convicted PEDOPHILE.

          • UnklGee

            One doesn’t need to add any nail to your coffin, human waste. Your own curse is good enough for you,
            “May your devil welcome u @Isaac Boro”. The Almighty GOD has already forbidden u and your ilks @Isaac Boro the paedophile…”.

          • Isaac Boro

            The nail was put on your mama and papa coffin. Remember? As for u @unklgee:disqus PEDOPHILE u are already dead and guess what u had no coffin as your fellow vultures ate your corpse @UnklGee or whatever your evil name is.

  • IRON EDEKO

    “the victims of their inaction can go jump into the Atlantic and die!”

  • IRON EDEKO

    “the victims of their inaction can go jump into the Atlantic and die!” They won’t die. They will get drowned!

  • adebayo

    This is a political irresponsibility and they will definitely pay for it.

  • amador kester

    These throw up a whole plethora of qqs: who really owns fifa? Can these faceless owners decide which budding contenders to stop short?was orji kalu also ordered to drop out by powerful proprietorial interests? Was that why its almost impossible to reform that totalitarian institution? Is it time to unbundle fifa or democratize it? Fact is: the federal govt may be too puny to probe this if powerful internatiinal conections that pontificate secretly on fifa are involved

  • canzete

    This platform has provided an opportunity for people to express their views but half baked literate people like Isaac Boro has chosen to use it to expose his naivety. You do not need to be a journalist to write well. Mathematical has been a columnist before I believe u were born. Yeye.

    • Isaac Boro

      “people like Isaac Boro has chosen” Illiterate @canzete:disqus has? has? has? Damned illiterate !

  • Babatoks

    With this “isaac Boro” response to me below, one can see how bigoted and tribalistic he is. Apart from the fact that he’s using a fake name trying to emulate the late great Isaac Boro (who remains a Nigerian icon), what are we talking about till he had to show his tribal prejudice?
    Also he cannot take what he throws out immediately results to insults. “When arguments are prolonged and well drawn out, men of mediocrity and of low intelligence are apt to be rude (and insulting and abusive)” so said Sir Winston Churchill, 1946.
    It is no use replying directly to this ignorant bigot who sees everything in a tribal way.

    • Isaac Boro

      @Babatoks:disqus your write up, as usual with the yoruba race, is full of grammatical errors, convoluted syntaxes and irredeemable mediocrity. Once more I advise u to go to school or read ‘Eze goes to school’. That is why VP Osibanjo is a houseboy to someone who can’t even pronounce his name.

  • Chris Udo

    @Isaac Boro you are a fool! Is that coherent enough for you? Ode!

    • Isaac Boro

      @Chris Udo, very coherent. Because I learnt it from your mother.

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