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NIGERIA FOOTBALL FEDERATION RELOCATES TO NEW HEADQUARTERS

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BY KUNLE SOLAJA.

After 23 years and two months, the offices of the Nigeria Football Federation are moving to a new headquarters.

In a series of tweets from the NFF official handle, photographs emerged of the chieftains in the new offices.

Also are photographs of the national team across the ages. The football governing body moved to the previous twin glass building it shares with the Federal Road Safety Commission on January 2, 1997 after relocating from a twin-duplex at the Ogunlana Drive in Surulere, Lagos.

Originally, the NFF was to have moved in March 2018 to a new facility that was commissioned seven years ago. The new office is a 27-room facility with a penthouse. The Rotimi Amaechi-led Presidential Task Force executed it from the fund raised towards Nigeria’s participation in the 2010 World Cup.

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But the original structure, painted in yellow has been given a facelift. The façade is now adorned in green and white colours, the national colours and the corporate colours of Nigerian football.

Located inside the Package B of the MKO Abiola National Stadium, Abuja the new headquarters is named Sunday Dankaro House.

Dankaro was a former chairman of the then Nigeria Football Association  (NFA) and a younger brother to John Dankaro, a pioneer member of Nigeria national team in 1949.

The new NFF building is located just beside the FIFA Technical Centre and football turf. It was hurriedly commissioned on July 18, 2013, even though the previous administration of Aminu Maigari and the current one lay claim to some defects in the building that needed rectification apart from the need to get befitting furniture.

When the movement of the NFF secretariat is fully effected, Sports Village Square can authoritatively declare that the Dankaro House will be the fourth secretariat the football governing body would occupy since Nigeria’s independence in 1960

In the 1960s, the football governing body operated from the then Lagos City Stadium that changed name to Onikan Stadium but was late last year renamed as Mobolaji Johnson Arena.

By the 1970s, the secretariat moved to a prefabricated wooden complex under the eastern pavilion of the Lagos National Stadium terraces.

From there, the secretariat moved in 1991 to the twin duplex at Ogunlana Drive in Surulere Lagos which the then NFA had acquired as national team hostel in the 1963. It was commissioned on April 5, 1963.

 The twin duplex now serves as the organization’s Lagos liaison office. On Thursday January 2, 1997, the body moved to Abuja.

The issue of an enduring secretariat for the NFF had been on long before the current administration.

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The late Commodore Edwin Kentebe, as the chairman of the then NFA in 1973 claimed that his administration had plans to rebuild the two-storey block at Ogunlana Drive. The proposal remained on the drawing board till he left office that year.

Over a decade later, the then Group Captain Ikazoboh set a fund-raising committee in 1986 for a football house.

The project, a five-storey building, largely of concrete, was to be within the National Stadium complex in Lagos.

Chief Nathaniel Idowu headed the committee.   But before it could begin work, the committee was sacked along with the Ikazoboh’s board that established it.

In 1989, when Ikazoboh was reappointed as NFA chairman, another committee was set up and headed by Alhaji Mohammed Grema. It suffered the same fate as its predecessor.

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By the turn of the century, the idea of a football house seemed to have been abandoned. It never featured in the handover of succeeding administrators.

The regime of Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima on October 15, 2003 got the approval of The Goal Bureau of FIFA to build a technical centre in Abuja. The then NFA came up with an architectural design of a building tagged “The Eagle House”.

It was to incorporate a training camp. The project did not see the light of the day before the board was ousted.

In 2012, a third architectural design of a proposed headquarters for the football governing body was unveiled. Like the technical centre, which is part of the Abuja National Stadium complex, it is also part of the FIFA Goal Project in Nigeria as the approval for the construction of the federation headquarters was approved by FIFA on December 1, 2009.

According to FIFA, the project is estimated at $650,000 out of which the Goal Bureau of FIFA will pay $400,000 leaving the remaining $250,000 for the NFF to bear.  But the NFF later sought for amendment to the original project and proposed a national technical centre in Bauchi.

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So, in February 2012 when the foundation for the new secretariat was being laid, the credit was given to the National Sports Commission and the Presidential Task Force (PTF) on Nigeria’s participation at the World Cup 2010 as the financiers.

The project estimated at N350 million is named Sunday Dankaro House, after the man with the longest tenure as the head of the Nigerian football governing body. It was under him that the country first won the Africa Cup of Nations in 1980.

The edifice is built on a gross floor area of 2,000 square metres and boasts of a helipad, a courtyard, a penthouse and a manicured park

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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