Unless something drastic is done by the Acting President, Professor Yemi Osinbajo (SAN,) Nigeria will receive a FIFA ban by Monday, August 20, 2018. The unresolved crisis at the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) which many have attributed to Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, has escalated to the point where the global sporting body is wading in to interfere.
Dalung has given tacit support to the Chris Giwa faction of the NFF who have refused to obey a court order recognising Amaju Pinnick as the chair of the NFF. This power tussle has led to an internal conflict and an undivided front at international meetings, which has affected FIFA’s ability to allocate funding for sporting events.
The feud will come to a resolution with a ban on Monday if the country fails to give the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF a free hand to operate at the glasshouse.
The crisis began after two different NFF elections produced two presidents for the federation. Each faction called into question the legitimacy of the other faction and eventually, the International Court of Arbitration was forced to resolve the matter. It recognised the election of Amaju Pinnick as the President but the Giwa faction has taken its grievances to a Nigerian court which handed victory to Giwa. However, football activities across the world is not subjected to any court order apart from the International Court of Arbitration. This is important to prevent any interference from government of each country and to give the football federations a sense of independence.
This same point has been argued by the lawyer to Amaju Pinnick, Festus Keyamo (SAN) who has advised the federal government to call Giwa to order but it seems his admonitions have not received the necessary attention. While reacting to this impasse at the just concluded World Cup, FIFA President, Gianni Infantino declared that only the Amaju Pinnick led executive is known to FIFA and they won’t hesitate to discipline Nigeria if the government do not stay clear off NFF issues.
On Tuesday, August 14, 2018, FIFA posted his latest directive to Nigeria and Ghana on its website calling for a total resolution of all issues and if that is not done, they will have no option than to ban Nigeria from football activities in the world. However, the Falconets will be allowed to complete their outing at the ongoing U-20 Women’s World Cup.
At this juncture, it is important that Osinbajo’s step in as he has done recently by preventing Nigeria from facing a ban which might ruin the fortune of the country’s football image. It is also important that the Giwa faction sheathe their swords and prepare for the next election as the Amaju Pinnick-led executives have less than eight months to the end of their tenure.
A stitch in time saves nine.