FIFA Correspondence with Nigeria’s Ministry of Sports: Challenge of Governance and Principles

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Sunday, August 19, 2018 8:00PM / Proshare WebTV

 

The Recent events surrounding Nigeria’s Football Federation has brought to the fore the challenge of governance, and adherence to precepts and principles especially when it has to do with a global body. 

Since its establishment in 1904, FIFA with over 100 countries as members have laws governing the game of football, driven by the International Football Association Board (IFAB). 

One area FIFA takes an active role in is ensuring the smooth running of the football sport and developing the game around the world.

It takes dire steps like sanctions and the suspension of Football Associations in countries where the government, interferes in the affairs of its associate member. 

Cameroon is an example of a country,that got the sledge hammer of FIFA when the government interfered in the affairs of its federation (FECAFOOT). 

FIFA banned Cameroon in July, 2013 for the alleged interference of the government in the country’s football association.

Nigeria one of the Africa’s leading light in the game of football faces a challenge of a FIFA ban, over the perceived government incursion in the activities of the football federation (NFF). 

In this article, we look at the issues, position of FIFA, correspondence between the Ministry of Sports and FIFA, Key takeaways and Implications for governance of the game in Nigeria.

 

Key Issues

Few weeks after the FIFA  2018 World Cup tournament closed in Russia, the Nigerian Football space was challenged with a decision by the Supreme Court of the nation, declaring that Mr Chris Giwa a factional leader of the NFF as the recognized President. 

This caused disaffection in the football community, with reactions from the FIFA recognized leadership of Mr Amaju Pinnick, who through his lawyer Mr Festus Keyamo, SAN raised a major concern that there will be dire consequences, from the decision of the apex court. 

It came with the dynamics of power play as Mr Chris Giwa resumed office at the NFF glasshouse in Abuja. 

The action reinstating Giwa by the Supreme Court, was supported by the Minister of Sport Mr Solomon Dalung, which drew criticisms. 

FIFA President Mr Gianni Infantino issued a statement from Zurich, Switzerland warning that the incidence of government’s intervention in the affairs of the National Football Association, could attract  suspension if the necessary steps to avert it is not taken. 

In what can be described by a swift action by the Presidency, through the Attorney General of the Federation, Amaju Pinnick led NFF faction was recognized and the Giwa was ordered out of the glass house. 

This did not stop the drama in the corridors of power and a dramatic episode ensued courtesy an interesting exchange of letter or correspondence, between FIFA and the Ministry of Sports.

 

Letter Correspondence

Even with the knowledge that the President of the Federal Republic of  Nigeria had communicated through the Attorney General the decision to abide by the FIFA position, thereby acknowledging Mr Amaju Pinnick as the NFF President, the Minister of Sports sent a letter  to FIFA requesting for a meeting with the leadership, to find ways to resolve the ongoing crisis. 

In the committee set up by the Minister was Mr Amaju Pinnick (recognized President of NFF) and Mr Chris  Giwa(faction leader), who FIFA had clearly stated is not recognized by the Football Governing Body. 

Responding to the Letter, FIFA pointed out that it had a busy schedule in August, to meet with the Minister and his delegation, but highlighted the following issues; 

  • That the FIFA decision on the suspension of the NFF, if all the apparatus of leadership is not restored back to the Amaju Pinnick leadership, still stands and will take effect from 12.00(CET) if not adhered to.
  • That FIFA upholds the 5-year ban of the Mr Chris Giwa in accordance with the FIFA Disciplinary Committee dated 10 January 2017, imposed by the Nigeria Football Federation Disciplinary Committee on 12 May, 2016.

Another Proactive Step of the Presidency

Today was the Decision day from FIFA and the Presidency took a proactive step again by writing to FIFA that it recognizes Mr Amaju Melvin Pinnick as the President of the NFF.
 

FIFA Decision, No Suspension of Nigeria

At the end of the FIFA meeting by 12.00pm(CET) a decision was reached which reads thus “Following the decision of the Bureau of the FIFA Council of 13 August 2018 concerning the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), FIFA received confirmations that the legitimate leadership of the NFF under President Amaju Melvin Pinnick and General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi has been given back effective control of the NFF and its offices.

“In view of these circumstances, FIFA deems that the conditions set by the decision of the Bureau of the FIFA Council have now been met and consequently the suspension of the NFF will not take effect. FIFA will continue to closely monitor the situation in order to ensure that FIFA’s rules and regulations are fully adhered to”.

The analysis is that FIFA has not suspended Nigeria thanks to the timely intervention of the Federal Government.

Key Takeaways

  • The first key issue here is that Nigeria is a sovereign nation guided by laws and order. Since it joined FIFA and agreed to abide by its provisions, guidelines and statutes, the Federal Government must maintain their act of following the procedures, and avoid interference in the NFF activities.
  • That the display of the Nigerian Sports Minister Mr Solomon Dalung re-emphasized the need for a clear and coordinate central communication from the Federal Government. It is surprising that while the Minister was canvassing for the re-instatement of Mr Giwa, the FG made its position clear twice that it acknowledged Mr Pinnick.
  • President Muhammadu Buhari and Vice-President Buhari must be commended for ensuring that there was a timely intervention. This is not how Nigeria should approach football administration. It has always been a last-ditch effort or fire-brigade approach to avert crisis.
  • For all stakeholders in the Nigerian football space, it is time for maturity and the need to respect and abide by FIFA’s decision. This means support the leadership of Mr Amaju Melvin Pinnick, till his tenure elapses.

Implications for Governance

The implications for governance is that going forward the Ministry of Sports should avoid the incidence of undue interference in the affairs of the Nigerian Football Federation.

This is critical to forestalling any future crisis in the nation’s sport that has been a strong uniting factor.

 
Proshare Nigeria Pvt. Ltd.

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