Some days ago, a Federal High Court in Abuja declared that the Nigeria Football Federation and the Nigeria Premier League are illegal and thus ordered that they be disbanded. According to the court, neither NFF nor NPL had statutory recognition, as only the Nigeria Football League (NFL) and the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) had legal authority to operate in the country.
The FHC was unequivocal in its ruling that only the NFA had the legal authority to oversee football affairs in the country. This ruling has caused further problems for the NFF which was already under intense scrutiny and had even been suspended earlier by FIFA.
FIFA, the world governing body for football which prohibits government interference in the running of the affairs of its members, yesterday threatened to ban Nigeria because of the recurrent cases against the NFF in Nigerian courts.
The current controversy arose because a while back, the name of the body was changed from the Nigeria Football Association to the Nigeria Football Federation (and the change duly recognised by FIFA).
One is tempted to ask, what is in a name? NFA or NFF, does it really matter what the body is called? Will its designation affect the Super Eagles’ scoring potential in their next match? But the law must be abided by.
The NFF has gone to the Court of Appeal to appeal the Federal High Court’s decision, although if the body is disbanded as ordered by the FHC, it will probably just reincarnate in its ‘constitutional’ form, NFA. However, if the NFF is even disbanded forever, will anyone really miss it? As with most governing bodies in Nigeria, it has been plagued by corruption, mismanagement, in-house squabbles and the whole works. In recent times, Nigerian football has been nothing to write home about and most people in the country have lost interest in it. Will the disbanding of the NFF and NPL perhaps not save the country from spending even more money which can be put to more beneficial use for citizens?
Another question the situation raises is: How does an allegedly illegal body run its affairs and get funding from the government? From that, one is also left to wonder how many government bodies getting government funds are unconstitutional.