Finally, FIFA sneezed; football fans in Nigeria are beginning to feel the symptoms of the FIFA-induced flu. Yesterday, the world governing body of football warned that Nigeria would be banned from all footballing activities if Chris Giwa doesn’t stop parading himself as the NFF President.
If by Monday, something is not done to stop Giwa, even Amaju Pinnick, the FIFA-recognized NFF President, would lose his association with FIFA as the ban affects everybody. It is not inconceivable for Giwa and his backers to go for broke and embrace, ‘if we can’t have it, nobody else would.’
As expected, since the FIFA statement announcing the imminent ban, people have descended on Giwa as if he instigated everything. The Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, is not spared the stick as he is seen as putting nepotism above national interest.
Both Dalung and Giwa are from the same state.
However, it should be noted that this crisis predates Dalung’s tenure as the sports minister. Nobody is talking about the fact that, perhaps, if the last administration had not interfered with the affairs of the NFF, we wouldn’t be in this mess today.
This is not holding a brief for Dalung. As a matter of fact, the presence of people like Dalung as Sports Minister shows how much relevance is attached to sports by successive regimes in Nigeria.
The Sports Ministry is consistently handed over to people who are completely bereft of ideas on how to turn around the fortunes of sportsmen and women in Nigeria.
The least competent people with zero-pedigree are usually shunted over to oversee the sports ministry. Solomon Dalung is just the latest in a series of out-of-their-depth Minister of Sports. He could take the prize as the worst of the bunch though.
However, in this case, Solomon Dalung is on the right side of the law.
According to the laws of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chris Giwa is the NFF President. The Supreme Court made that declaration.
The question now is simple. Should the government obey the Constitution of Nigeria or put the laws of FIFA above the Constitution of Nigeria.
Installing Amaju Pinnick is directly telling Nigerians that FIFA laws are superior to Nigeria’s Constitution.
On the other hand, insisting on the rule of law means Nigeria would definitely get a ban. There is no way around that. And the ban would remain as long as Giwa remains president.
Some people, even respected individuals, are openly calling on the government to ignore the Supreme Court and do as FIFA wishes. After all, they claim, this won’t be the first time government is disobeying the Supreme Court.
This is just once instanced how consistent government impunity and disobedience of valid court orders can come to haunt Nigeria later
A FIFA ban would have serious negative repercussions on the fortunes of our football and the careers of footballers in the local league.
For instance, a ban means our players cannot legally play professionally in any club abroad. That is in addition to being suspended from all competitions organized by the Confederation of African Football, CAF, and FIFA.
The number of people who would be out of a job from this ban is unimaginable. Billions of naira would disappear from the economy in lost remittances and grants from FIFA.
If the government decides to kowtow to FIFA, it is not really setting a precedent. We have been down that road before. What this means is that wait for a government that can put the country’s laws above that of foreign organizations is still on.
So what can Nigeria do to avoid a FIFA ban without seeming to shit on our constitution?
All parties must agree first and foremost to shelve their egos for the sake of a Nigeria.
Pinnick must then be prevailed upon to resign his position as NFF president. This shouldn’t be hard as his 4-year tenure would come to an end next month. Pinnick Resigning should satisfy FIFA.
Giwa would then be installed as the NFF president after a sort of election. That should satisfy the Supreme Court.
Then we must find a way to convince FIFA to lift the football ban imposed on Giwa. That is an objective that must be pursued with failure not considered an option.
But can Pinnick and Giwa and those backing them agree to this solution?