GO TO HELL, GOMBE BLASTS FIFA FOR BANNING NIGERIA
Former Gombe State Football Association chairman, Alhaji Ahmed Shaibu Gara Gombe, has advised Nigerians not to see the ban on our football by FIFA as a bad omen. He said sports in the country has been suffering because of the Mafia that has over the years held the industry to ransom.
He stated that the same set of people were the ones that misled President Goodluck Jonathan to recant his earlier decision to withdraw the country from international football for two years after he had taken a stand on Nigerian football following the country's decimal outing at the last World Cup in South Africa.
While in a chat with Sunday Sunsports during the week, Gombe called the bluff of FIFA, saying that the world football governing body should go to hell and allow Nigerian football to be.
'It didn't come to me as a surprise that FIFA slammed a ban on Nigeria, I really saw it coming,' Alhaji Gombe began. 'FIFA said it banned the country from all its organised football competitions because of what it termed government interference on the nation's football matters.
'In this case, what it considered as government interference were predicated upon the court case instituted by the National Association of Nigerian Footballers (NANF), the removal of the acting secretary general of the Nigeria Football Association (NFA) and the reversion of the relegated teams and their subsequent promotion to the Premier League without due consideration to the Nigerian Premier League (NPL) Congress, which was supposed to rectify the relegation and promotion of teams before the new league season begins.
'But why should FIFA be harassing a sovereign nation like Nigeria? FIFA said it slammed a ban on Nigeria because a football matter was taken to a regular court, which it said was against its rules. Though I am not in support of the action of NANF in this matter, the truth is that the members of that association are Nigerian and if they were aggrieved with the way the NFA elections were conducted they have the right under the constitution of Nigeria to seek redress in the court of law. But why should NANF be crucified for going to court when there was no NFA board to resolve conflicts among football stakeholders?
'Again, FIFA said it banned the country because the acting secretary general of NFA, Musa Amadu, was removed from that office. People should realise that Amadu is a staff of the Ministry of Sports, and the ministry has every right to redeploy him at any time. Don't forget that he was acting as the secretary general of the NFA because there was no existing board; he was only holding forth in that position. So, FIFA has no basis to count Amadu's removal as one of its reasons for placing a ban on Nigeria.
'On the fact that the Honourable Minister and Chairman of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Alhaji Isah Bio and the Director General of the commission, Dr Patrick Ekeji sat with the officials of NPL to take some crucial decisions on how to kick-start our league for the new season, I would say that under the circumstances our league is at the moment, that action was the best way to get the league running again.
'I support that action. I would only have suggested that the minister and the NSC director general should have only instructed the NPL board on what to do and not to go and sit in a meeting with them to resolve the logjam.
'On bringing Bayelsa United back to the Premier League for the new season, I think that decision was taken to rectify the injustice meted out to the club when it played against Wikki Tourists last season. There is no NFA board to put things right for the new league season to commence, so what the minister did was in order.
'Our problem is that those running our football are making things difficult for us. They are getting the minister confused, just as they misled the president after he had taken the right decision on our football. The problem is coming from the power play among the people that control football in the country. Every one of them wants his men to be in charge and that is why the game is suffering in the country.
'In all these, FIFA should realise that Nigeria is a sovereign nation, and in fact, one to reckon with in the world. Nigeria has laws that govern her citizens and the constitution of Nigeria supersedes FIFA rules and regulations once we are acting within the bounds of our national territory. That was why it pained me when some people misled President Goodluck Jonathan and made him to recant his earlier decision to withdraw Nigeria from international football for two years. Now we look stupid in the eyes of the world, as it is now FIFA that has forced us back to respect the wise decision of our president.
'If the current ban will help us to reorganise our football, then I think it is a welcome development. At the same time, I implore the federal government to get to the root of this national embarrassment.
'FIFA should go to hell with its sanction. I only wish that while we are serving the ban, we should use the opportunity to reposition our football,' Gombe concluded.