BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick on Thursday inaugurated a 24-member NFF Reform Committee in Lagos. The NFF Executive Committee proposed the committee to the General Assembly last month in Asaba.
Headed by the NFF 1st Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi, the committee, among others, is expected to provide the most stable and sustainable foundations for football in Nigeria.
Virtually all members of the committee drawn from virtually every segment of the football community attended the brief, but incisive inauguration session.
In inaugurating the committee, Pinnick remarked that he had absolute confidence in the committee coming up with progressive reforms.
He also said that the recommendations of the committee, which has a three-month time frame, would be implemented.
This will be a sharp departure from the past when similar committees’ reports were condemned to gather dust in shelves.
Before now, there had been many reform committees such as the SO Williams Sports Reforms committee in the 1980s, the Amanze Uchegbulam committee on age-graded football activities of 1999, the Emeka Omeruah Committee of 2004 and another one some years back which recommended the formation of a domestic Court of Arbitration for Sports to avoid the administrative and legal logjams that almost strangulate football administration in the past four year.
The immediate past sports minister, Tammy Danagogo had four years ago called for a Nigerian Court of Arbitration for Sports as being necessary to settle the recurring disputes and civil court cases in the football industry that have put the Nigeria at loggerheads with FIFA.
“We don’t have a Court of Arbitration for Sport in this country and we need one,” he said.
“I was told the modalities for setting up one is in place, but I will have to fast-track its establishment, and I will work with the National Olympic Commission because its establishment is under their purview.” However, that never happened.
Danagogo at the time explained that the purpose of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) was to bring about the resolution of sports-related disputes, which are submitted to it through ordinary arbitration or through appeal against the decisions of sports bodies or organisations.
“The first president of the CAS, Juan Antonio Samaranch, envisaged a ‘kind of Hague Court in the sports world,’” he added.
“With this court in place, any aggrieved party can take their case there. So, a situation whereby the NFF will be the prosecutor, defendant, and judge on any matter will longer happen.”
Perhaps it was owing to those facts that the chairman of the latest reforms committee, Seyi Akinwunmi, a lawyer, said in his opening remarks that there is nothing new in the setting up of the committee.
But what is necessary is for Nigerians to believe that a new era has come. “Change can come anytime, but we have to believe in it.”
The session began with a short video clip on changes in some African countries and the zeal to believe that this can also permeate into Nigerian football for the better.
The committee has set up a web page, which members of the public can make input into by first registering and get activated to contribute to the discourse.
Pinnick in resolving to get the findings of the committee to be implemented asked the members to put timeline into every recommendation made.