HOW GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION CREPT INTO FOOTBALL

HOW GOVERNMENT INTERVENTION CREPT INTO FOOTBALL

BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

… A SACK THAT CHANGED THE COURSE OF NIGERIAN FOOTBALL ADMINISTRATION…

 Electoral process is not new in the composition of Nigeria’s national football body. In the early era composition was by election but with annual mandate.

The election in 1961 changed the face of football administration in Nigeria and precipitated government’s intervention in a hitherto independent organisation.

After a controversial election in which the winner, Francis Albert Sodolamu Ogunmuyiwa, was initially disqualified, a spate of crises erupted.

Others elected with him were Fred Anisha as vice chairman, Adetayo Awolesi, secretary and Israel Adebajo as treasurer and Alhaji Saliu as member in the March 26, 1961 elections.

Allegations of fund misappropriation were rampant and there was an utter display of lack of administrative skill leading to the disqualification of Nigeria in the Africa Cup Nations qualifier against Tunisia. Nigerian officials called off the players in the match Nigeria were leading on aggregate.

Barely a year of the board, the NFA was dissolved on May 10, 1962. The Minister of Labour and Welfare who was also in charge of sports, Chief Joseph Modupe Johnson, better known as JMJ, announced the dissolution and constituted an eight-man caretaker committee.

 Chief Joseph Modupe Johnson (JMJ) the minister that first announced the sack of Nigeria’s football governing body in 1962.

Louis Orok Edet, the Acting Deputy Inspector General of Police, headed the team. The man in whose name the Nigeria Police Force headquarters in Abuja is named thus became the first appointed chairman of the NFA. He later became the first Nigerian Inspector General.

Other members of his team were M.E.K. Robert, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Brigadier Sam Ademulegun, Commodore J. Akinwale Wey, Mustapha Adewale, Pius Anthony, L.M.C. Emejulu and Alhaji Koguma. The chairmen of regional councils were also included.

Members of the ousted regime attended the meeting of the dissolution. Initially, Ogunmuyiwa queried the minister’s power to summon the meeting, especially by the virtue of the NFA constitution.

But the minister said that the government considered public interest in taking the action. He pointed out that the government was not going to take back seat in sports again.

That was the start of government interference in sports matters. It became infectious and decades later, FIFA and IOC battled to put an end to it.   Modupe Johnson, the minister, disclosed that the Ogunmuyiwa team took off with a balance of £8,500 but incurred a debt of £9,900. He emphasised that if the team were to go on, the gulf would continue to widen. The Federal Government, he also revealed, aided the NFA with £9,900. No previous administration of the NFA had asked for Federal Government’s aid.