Indications emerged at the weekend that the purported removal of the Alhaji Aminu Maigari-led Executive Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), had been flayed by top football chiefs in the country, with most of them, along with state football association chairmen, saying it was done in bad taste.
They concluded that the move would damage the (personal after their all-expenses paid trip to Brazil) gains made by Nigerian football in the last four years.
Among those against the move are former Nigeria Football Association (NFA) Chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima, Delta State Football Association Chairman and Executive Chairman of the State Sports Commission, Amaju Pinnick and 33 state football association chairmen in the country who asked to be anonymous.
Meanwhile, only three state football association chairmen attended the emergency congress held Tuesday in Abuja.
Galadima in his submission, said the same brazen manner in which he was removed from office as NFA Chairman, was again being displayed, with only FIFA standing for the truth at the moment.
“If the sports ministry and the National Sports Commission (NSC), say they are using the Jos High Court judgment to displace the present executive committee, then they have flouted the court order, because the court also said there should be no congress. So where did they get the powers to appoint an administrator and to sack all management staff members, it is absurd, illegal and we pray that common sense will prevail,” he said.
He continued: “As far as some of us are concerned, the country is retrogressing instead of moving forward internationally in football. If it has to do with funds management then we can understand and there are better ways of going about it instead of putting Nigeria in bad light for the wrong reasons internationally.”
Galadima called on the minister to, if possible, retrace his steps and look for better counsel, instead of grandstanding on the removal of the executive committee of the NFF.
“This matter is not about any individual but about the nation and the bad report and possible damage this development will do to our football.”
“We hear the minister and another official are going to FIFA headquarters when the World Cup is ongoing, it will amount to nothing. Let’s settle at home.”
In his own submission, Amaju, said he had been able to tell the Sports Minister, Tammy Danagogo, his own feelings regarding the present logjam.
He said the country’s image and football must be protected from politics.
“What we are seeing is attempt to rubbish a very good man in Aminu Maigari, yes he may have his limitations but in reality, Nigeria has not had it this good for a long time with a football administrator as Maigari has demonstrated.
“The minister may have his points of argument but Nigeria should supersede all, otherwise by Tuesday we will be banned by FIFA and that will take us several years backwards because we cannot be against the international politics of the game.
Amaju said he believes that if the presidency actually approved the removal of the executive committee, it was ill-advised and there must be a way to correct the anomaly and save the country from the looming FIFA ban.
“We should stop making ourselves a laughing stock before the international community, because to be honest, football is one of the sectors that has been thriving in the country and we must make it better instead of fighting ourselves. The minister and the NFF must find a common ground to resolve this issue for the good of the country. We even hear they want to bring back some characters whose only source of livelihood is football, we must not go there because we know the antecedents of these men.”
Also, the 33 state football association chairmen said they were shocked at the turn of events but will play the waiting game to ensure that they do not run foul of FIFA rules and also thread the path of honour.
However, the THISDAY investigation revealed that Danagogo, had written to Maigari to account for the federal government subventions, FIFA grants and sponsorship money before the latter’s tenure as the President of NFF came to an abrupt end on Saturday, after the congress of the Nigerian football endorsed the dissolution of the executive committee and the immediate termination of the employment of all management staff of the federation.
The letter, written on July 2 by Justice Jaffa, a Special Assistant to the minister, gave Maigari 48 hours to render a detailed accounts of the receipts estimated to be over N7billion.
The congress, headed by Effiom Johnson, had indicted Maigari for failure to resolve the World Cup appearance fee with the Super Eagles at the World Cup, until a guarantee by President Goodluck Jonathan convinced the players to honour the round of 16 fixture against France in Brasilia on June 30.
The congress pronounced the incident as ”unfortunate” and an episode that had caused Nigeria a major international embarrassment.
Maigari was detained by officials of the State Security Service (SSS) last Friday when he arrived Abuja from Brazil after the elimination of the national team from the World Cup, and a day after, Justice P.L Lot of the Jos High Court granted an order of interim injunction, sacking him and other members of the executive committee of the NFF.
FIFA viewed the court order as interference and had given Nigeria a ultimatum which expires tomorrow to reinstate the constituted board, failure which it might result in ban from all international football activities.
But THISDAY learnt of the intrigues, power play and suspicion of bogus spending which built up before the congress, met at the Bolingo Hotel and Towers and impeached Maigari a month to the election NFF which he was aiming to re-contest.
Danagogo, in the letter obtained exclusively by THISDAY, specifically demanded from Maigari how NFF expended the N150 million monthly subventions from January 2013 to date.
The total subventions released by government during the period totalled N2.2 billion.
The letter also asked the embattled former football federation president to account for N850 million released by federal government for the preparation of the Super Eagles for the World Cup campaign.
It deemed that the allocation was outside the separate $1.5 million (about N240 million) FIFA gave the federation as grant to prepare the team for the World Cup.
Danagogo also sought for money received over time from national team’s sponsors, including Globacom, adidas, Samsung, Guinness among other partners to be accounted for.
In addition to that, the NSC Chairman demanded for NFF how it intended to expend the $14 million (about N2.2 billion) due from FIFA as Nigeria’s share of advancing to the second round (round of 16 ) of the World Cup.
It was also learnt that President Jonathan pacified the players by hurriedly advancing to NFF, $3.6 million (N550 million) to offset the players’ appearance fee.
The minister admonished that the advance was not a donation but expected to be refunded upon the redemption of the FIFA World Cup windfall.
”You are to note that the $3.6m Mr President graciously advanced to you for the players’ appearance fee is not a donation. You are directed to ensure a refund to the Minister without delay. Funds entrusted to you is for football development and not for any political or re-election bid,” the memo read.
NFF apparently underrated the players by going to the World Cup without a cogent arrangement to pay appearance fee outside the match bonus structure approved by the National Assembly.
The players were to earn $10,000 as match winning bonus in the first round.
The amount would increase to $30,000 per player if the team won the World Cup.
The cumulative reward package in anticipation of a World Cup victory was $107,000.
But the players only grossed $15,000 each for the win over Bosnia and draw with Iran and were not entitled to bonus for the losses to Argentina and France.
To make up for this, they saw the FIFA money as their share of the pie upon realising that the body had set aside payout for all teams, the least amount being a guaranteed $8 million for the first round which would increase as the team progressed in the competition.
The amount approved by government for the World Cup campaign was N1.2 billion bulk of which was to defray camping cost and allowances, match bonus and flight for the of the team. Additional provisions were also made for the accompanying delegation comprising of government officials and other stakeholders.
But THISDAY learnt that the Maigari-led board, considered the best since organised football started in Nigeria in 1945, dug its own graves over the way some of the country’s members of official delegation at the World Cup were treated.
For instance, the stadium sitting arrangement in Curitiba provided the Senate President David Mark, who represented the president and Danagogo, was said to belittle their status.
Maigari also fell out with members of its own board who alleged they were sidetracked and were made to pay for local flight tickets in Brazil out of their estacodes.
Estacode of $13,600 ($425 per day) was approved for each of the 14 board member for their 32 days stay in Brazil.
But the sack of Maigari had been challenged by a stakeholder, Aminu Balele Kurfi.
Kurfi described the exercise as an illegal action which FIFA would not allow to stand.
He said the congress, which sat in Abuja, violated the order of the court.
Citing Article 4 of the court order, Kurfi said the order of interim injunction restrained the defendant (Maigari) and all the other members of the executive committee from further parading, presenting or holding themselves out as the executive committee and congress of the first defendant (NFF) pending the hearing and determination of the motion on notice for interlocutory injunction pending before this honorable court.
”We have to follow due process by not violating an order of a court of competent jurisdiction which sacked the NFF board and the congress. FIFA will definitely not allow this,” Kurfi, who staged a walked out in protest out of the congress said.