Friday, 6 December 2013
Nigeria's Withdrawal From International Football Competition
The writer, Majek Adega confused what was done with what he assumed was done. What was done was that the federal government dissolved one of it's executive agencies, the Nigeria Football Federation, "NFF," which is an agency under the Ministry of Sports. Essentially, government did what Adega wants to have done, which is: suspend the incompetent and yet-to-be proved-corrupt executive officials of the NFF from further action operating the NFF and start the process of re-organizing the agency.
The re-organization is necessary to manage many of the issues raised by the writer, including cheating on the age of players, improper preparation for competition, mismanagement of the finances of the agency and more.
Perhaps, the decision to take the measure taken came as a surprise and could have been done differently after study and investigation. Nigeria clearly has the right to withdraw from football competition by resigning from FIFA under Article 16 of the FIFA Statutes (August 2009 edition). To invoke that provision, NFF was required to send notice of resignation to the general secretariat of FIFA before July 1, 2010, for effective resignation as of December 2010.
Nigeria has not followed procedure and I expect FIFA to not recognize the president's directive to withdraw from football competition. The drama is not over yet. Did the right person send the right notice to the right place and did it get there at the right time? My answers to all these questions are NO, NO, NO and NO!
Article 16 of the Statutes says a "member may resign from FIFA....[and] notice of resignation must reach the general secretariat of FIFA no later than six months before the end of the calendar year and sent by registered letter.
The member of FIFA is the NFF not the president or the minister of sport. A member of FIFA acts through its chief executive officer, in the case of the NFF the general secretary. Under Article 17 of the Statutes, FIFA will not recognize the president's decision to resign as it was not made by the authorized person or body. The president is not such person or body.
Assuming FIFA accepts the Nigerian president's directive as notice from "a member" of FIFA, was the notice sent by "registered letter'? Did the 'registered letter" reach FIFA before July 1, 2010, for the resignation to become effective as of December 2010?
My guess is, with how Nigeria operates, (see the drama that led to the 'doctrine of Necessity" that brought in the president himself), no registered letter reached the general secretariat of FIFA by July 1, 2010. But I could be wrong. We will wait to hear from FIFA on this technicality.
Assuming FIFA even accepts Nigeria's resignation, Nigeria cannot just come back to play international football when Nigeria is good and ready in two years time. Nigeria must now apply for admission under Article 10 of the Statutes. The requirements for admission are elaborated upon in the Regulations Governing the Admission of Associations to FIFA.
Because it may not be easy to come back into FIFA, we should study closely a decision to resign from FIFA. We can resign now but we may have to beg to get back in. Considering that there are technical failings in the notice of resignation and that FIFA has not even acknowledged the directive to resign, and may not accept it, we can still correct the failures of NFF. In other words we can throw out the bath water without throwing out the baby!
There are many things wrong with the NFF and there are many things that have been done well in football by Nigeria in spite of the incompetence and yet-to-proved corruption of the NFF officials.
EFCC, when it starts doing its work, can investigate and prosecute the NFF. The NFF elections can be monitored and any election impropriety prosecuted by the ministry of sports using Nigeria criminal laws. Any of the indicted officials can be suspended from participating in any agency of the government. Yes, the process is not easy and quick but it is the correct method.
Concerning elections into NFF, Nigeria National Assembly, "NASS," when it starts working for the $1 million-plus yearly take-home pay per legislator, can revise the statute - the minister of sport can submit a NFF revision bill to the NASS.
One revision can be that the president appoints the bodies of NFF as appointment is allowed under Article 17 of the FIFA Statutes. Other measures relating to funding, maintaining accounts and others consistent with Nigeria laws and FIFA statutes can be included, if NASS starts doing its job for the $1 million take-home pay per legislator, that is!
In addition, the government does not have to handover funds to NFF without conditions and supervision. FIFA does not allow political or governmental interference in NFF operation, but the government can impose conditions on any entity seeking government money, including the submission to governmental monitoring and supervision. It will be the NFF submitting itself to supervision and monitoring and not interference by government when NFF goes to government for funding because NFF cannot self fund as do other independent associations.
If we re-organize and put credible people into the NFF and obtain accountability for the funds given to this agency, we will see the different result in football competitions that we wish to have.