By Unini Chioma
The 2021 sports federations elections which were held on Thursday in Abuja have come and gone but not without the sad incidents that usually characterize such elections in Nigeria.
The gladiators as expected deployed all manners of tools to ensure that they realized their ambition to lead or be on the boards of the sporting federations. There was, therefore, a tense atmosphere at each of the venues where elections were held.
It will be recalled that as soon as the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports Development fixed September 30 as the date for fresh elections into the respective sports federations, aspirants sharpened their tools of ‘war’ as if to say ‘everything is fair in war’.
The first indication that it was going to be a day of battle was when a Federal High Court in Abuja, on Wednesday, September 29 stopped the Ministry of Sports, Badminton Federation of Nigeria, Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, Chairman Election Guideline Committee, Akinlolu Folusho, Secretary Electoral Guideline Committee, Bamiduro Olu and Mr Francis Obih from conducting the Badminton Federation elections into executive office pending the hearing of determination of Motion on Notice.
This was contained in an Exparte order granted the plaintiff, Kenneth Azuine to serve all defendants the Court Process in the suit by substituted means.
While the dust of the court order was yet to settle, the crisis in the Nigerian basketball fraternity took a different dimension when major stakeholders moved for the ratification of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) constitution before the general elections of new board members.
The decision was reached at the end of the ‘peace’ meeting between major stakeholders (Musa Kida and Tijani Umar factions) which was presided over by the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, and the Nigeria Olympics Committee (NOC) on Wednesday in Abuja.
The Former board member NBBF and FIBA Zone 3 president, Mukhtar Adamu Khaleh while speaking to newsmen after the meeting said both factions were given 21-days to resolve the contending issues and to chart a new way for the development of the sports in the country.
“The meeting was very successful. The two parties met and discussed. The Sports Minister and the NOC were there. We had a very fruitful discussion and a resolution has been made on how to solve the problems in the NBBF. The contending issue is the constitution. Some parties are not in agreement with the constitution and some are.
“The resolution taken is that both parties should look at the constitution and those areas they don’t agree with, they should write it down and submit it to the ministry and the NOC.”
He then revealed that the Extra-Ordinary Congress, Zonal, Players, Technical Reps elections have been postponed indefinitely. However, on election day, that wasn’t the case as plans were underway to hold congress as well as the aforementioned elections.
Speaking to Trust Sports, a candidate for players’ reps on the NBBF board, Stanley Gumut, who plies his trade with Nigeria Customs, said he was home washing when he heard the elections were about to be conducted.
“I was home washing and I had to rush down here when I got information that elections were about to take place. We are only asking for a fair playing ground. We were told 21 days and we relaxed and they wanted to take us off guard,” he said.
In his own reaction, a former vice president of NBBF, Babs Ogunade said “The players are aggrieved and whatever is troubling them will be resolved in a matter of days”.
Shortly after this, a press statement signed by the acting director, Federation of Elites athletes Department (DFEAD), Dr Simon Ebhojiaye announced that the NBBF elections will be guided by the Constitution recognized by FIBA.
However, other contestants were of the opinion that the constitution is skewed to favour Engr Musa Kida and in the long run scheme them out of the elections. They are however demanding the ministry should set up its own guidelines.
The drama in the NBBF is still unfolding as the power tussle between Kida and Umar is getting messier as no camp is willing to shift grounds. There are fears that the crisis in the NBBF which started in 2017 and has continued to impact negatively on Nigerian basketball may not abate anytime soon.
Meanwhile, earlier on the day of election, there was a free for all at the National Table Tennis Federation zonal election as delegates traded punches with one another. Consequently, an accredited delegate from Cross River state was taken away by the Police to save him from being lynched by some suspected thugs.
Similar scenes were witnessed at other venues where there were allegations of attempted manipulations to favour some ‘anointed’ candidates.
However, some sports federations conducted their elections without any wrangling. As a matter of fact, some former presidents were returned unopposed in a convivial atmosphere.
From some of the results that were available as at the time of press, the Secretary General of Confederation of African Volleyball (CAVB) Zone 3, Engineer Musa Nimrod was re-elected as president of the Volleyball Federation same as former Nasarawa State Deputy Governor, Hon. Silas Agara who returned as president of the Karate federation.
It was the same success story for Samuel Ocheho, Engineer Ishaku Tikon, Hon. Daniel Igali, Dayo Akindoju and Boye Oyerinde who were re-elected as presidents of handball, cycling, table tennis, wrestling, lawn tennis and squash racket federation respectively.
In other elections, Mr. Uyiosa Akpata emerged as the president of Nigeria Cricket Federation, Otunba Olusegun Runsewe was elected as president of Nigeria Golf Federation just as Dr. Ademola Are is now Rugby federation president.
Similarly, Dr. Ibrahim Abdul emerged as weightlifting federation president while Abdullahi Saidu was elected as the new president of Nigeria Taekwondo Federation.
Simon Nkom has equally emerged as the Nigeria Hockey Federation, a former Vice-president of Nigeria Judo Federation (NJF), Musa Oshodi, has emerged as the new president while Kelvin Ehizigie got elected as the president of the Gymnastics Federation of Nigeria,
A former Chief of Army Staff, Gen Kenneth Miminah (rtd) also won his election as president of the boxing federation.
Reacting to the recently held elections, a former member of the House of Representative and Sports administrator, Hon. Lumumba Dah Adeh has charged the newly elected board members to work for the good of Nigerian sports.
He said they must resist the temptations to subvert the aspirations of other stakeholders who have entrusted them with leadership positions.
“I don’t expect anything less than total commitment and dedication to the responsibilities that have been assigned to them.
“Aspiring to leadership positions is one thing and knowing what to do at every given time is another thing. I believe they won’t forget that the interest of Nigerian sports, especially the athletes remain topmost priority.
“I also advise that those who didn’t realize their ambition to lead shouldn’t pull down the house. If indeed they had good intentions for their respective sports federation, they should close ranks and work together,” said Lumumba.
With elections into the boards of most of the sports federations successfully conducted, Nigerian sports stakeholders will be looking forward for drastic and positive changes in the sector.