•Sports Minister playing tribal politics with our football – Gara Gombe
By John Egbokhan
Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung has been been condemned for causing confusion and instigating actions that brought shame to Nigerian football on Wednesday when NFF President, Amaju Pinnick and Giwa FC owner, Christopher Giwa almost almost engaged in fisticuffs.
Apparently to please his long time friend and fellow Plateau State indigene, Giwa, the minister initiated a meeting between Pinnick and Giwa to resolve a matter that had been long settled by Fifa and the Court of Arbitration for Sports, CAS. Former sports minister Danagogo tried to influence the NFF election and initiated an August 26 Annual General Meeting for Nigeria Football Federation.
When members discovered that the minister planned to compel them to hold election the delegates deserted the venue and pitched tent with then federation President Aminu Maigari who was then held back at a police station. Giwa claimed he was elected NFF President same day.
Fifa has not recognised that till date. They rather recognised the election of Pinnick on September, 30, 2014. Giwa went to court and later wwas made to withdraw the case when Fifa threatened to ban Nigeria. Giwa would not give up. He went to CAS and the highest court for sports matters ruled against him. Amaju assumed full office and peace reigned in Nigeria’s football for more than a year now until the appointment of Dalung as minister of sports. The minister said he was calling for a meeting to resolve a petition from Giwa on the same matter laid to rest by Fifa and CAS.
Football stakeholders warned the minister not to reopen a resolved matter but he appeared too ready to please Giwa and insisted on a meeting between Giwa and Amaju last Wednesday. Tempers rose and altercations followed as Giwa and Pinnick charged on each other right with the minister sitting with them. It was a show of shame courted and seemingly supervised by the minister. Despite being warned by leading football stakeholders on the confusion that the occasion was capable of causing, a recalcitrant Dalung went ahead to hold the infamous meeting, where as expected, tempers boiled and flared over, with the aggrieved persons charging at each other, only to be separated by bemused officials present.
At a time the country is battling with serious economic challenges, with oil prices dropping to an all-time $29 per barrel low, the picture of the Sports Minister trying to separate two men from punching themselves hard was splashed on the sports pages of newspapers on Thursday, ridiculing Nigeria and bringing the game into disrepute.
And this has only incensed the likes of former Secretary-General of the NFF and one time member of House of Representatives, Sani Toro, who has accused Dalung of ridiculing the image of Nigeria and President Muhammadu Buhari.
And another fiery sports critic and former Special Adviser to the Kano State government, Shauib Gara-Gombe has called for the immediate resignation of Dalung for bringing shame to Nigeria.
Speaking to Saturday Vanguard Sports, Toro warned Dalung to call off next week’s scheduled meeting to save the country from international ban by FIFA, which he warned would complicate the employment problem in the country.
Toro said “If he wants to ridicule Nigeria, let him go ahead with the meeting, which in the first place is uncalled for because there is no dispute as to who is the duly elected President of the NFF. There is no case at all but the minister is creating something out of nothing. It is like he wants to disgrace this government of change of President Mohammadu Buhari.
“With what they are doing now, they will invoke FIFA’s ban on us and add to growing unemployment in the land”, added Toro, who however noted that President Buhari would not allow Dalung take our football into the cesspit of confusion.
“President Buhari means well for this country and I know that he will not allow anything that will undermine the growth we have seen in our football in recent times”.
Toro, an astute sports administrator, who was once Bauchi State’s Sports Commissioner repeatedly said the minister had no business “creating the confusion that is shameful to this government.”
Gara Gombe fumed that Dalung was subtly trying to play partisan politics along ethnic line as Giwa and himself hail from Platean State and are seen as friends.
“I think he is playing a little of this brotherly affinity with Giwa, who he wants to please to an extent.
Toro said that Giwa should not forget that he runs a club and he should not put the future of the players in jeopardy if FIFA bans us”.
Dalung has come under attacks from social critics over his poor dress sense, always wearing khaki shirt, trousers draped with a red beret.
Foremost public commentator Jimi Disu sees his dressing as ‘’undeserving of a minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria” and has repeatedly spoken against him on radio.
And with his infamous foray into a dead matter, it seems that Dalung is unwittingly invoking more trouble for himself.
Gara Gombe said more: “Dalung has to resign after bringing shame to President Buhari on Wednesday, when two men started a brawl at each other in a meeting that he called. He has lost the respect of all stakeholders because there was no need for the meeting in the first place as Pinnick is the legitimate President of the NFF as recognised by Nigerians, FIFA , CAF and CAS”.
“Dalung jumped into the matter because of his relationship Giwa and it seems that he has taken sides with Giwa because how come has he not called for meeting to resolve the case against Shehu Dikko’s emergence as President of the League Management Company? Why the interest in Giwa’s case at this particular point in time?
“And why did Giwa not raise any issue against Pinnick after the matter was resolved by Fifa and CAS until now that Dalung is at the Sports Ministry? On the part of the minister, he has undermined his office with the show of shame that played up right in his face. It is curious that someone who has not arranged his disorganised office and is still learning the ropes of sports administration suddenly jumps into a dead issue”, added a fuming Gara Gombe.