HAS CHICKEN FINALLY COME HOME TO ROAST?
For close to two decades, the name, Dr Amos Adamu, has remained the most recurring decimal in Nigerian sports establishment. The doctor of Physical Education, who has built an empire of sorts with his army of foot soldiers in the nation's sports milieu, is also famous for scandals and controversies.
Popularly known as 'Mr Fix It' in sports circle, Adamu has had a prominent hand in virtually all sports events hosted and participated by Nigeria both locally and internationally since early '90s. His phenomenal posture has equally been laced with controversies and scandals. But like the proverbial cat with nine lives, the Ogbomoso-born sports administrator has always come out of such scandals no matter how messy they seemed, thanks to his 'money power'.
He is believed to have amassed stupendous wealth over the years he served in various top capacities in the nation's sports establishment that he could allegedly bride his way out of any trouble or scandal no matter the magnitude.
But early in the week, the bubble seemed to have burst for the strongman of Nigerian sports, as a British tabloid, Sunday Times, reported that he demanded for US$800,000 for his vote to back United States' bid to win the hosting rights of the 2018 World Cup. The evidence of the bribery scandal appears weighty that analysts believed that 'Mr Fix It' has finally been fixed. To some, Adamu's cup has run over.
The undercover journalists that exposed Adamu were said to have posed as lobbyists from a United States Business Consortium, acting on behalf of the United States World Cup bid. In the film the journalists recorded, Adamu apparently offered a 'guarantee' to vote for the US bid in 2018 World Cup in return for cash. According to him, the money he demanded was to be used to build four privately owned stadiums in Nigeria.
In the video footage, Adamu was asked whether the money for 'a private project' would have an effect on the way he voted, he replied: 'Obviously, it will have an effect. Of course, it will. Because certainly, if you are to invest in that, that means you also want the vote.'
FIFA's rule forbidding bribery
Chapter II of the world football governing body's rules of conduct says: 'Any kind of advantage that could give even the impression of exerting influence, or conflict of interest either directly or indirectly, in connection with the bidding process, such as that at the beginning of a collaboration, whether with private person, a company, or any authorities except for occasional gifts that are generally regarded as symbolic or incidental value and that exclude any influence on a decision in relation to the bidding process, and any benefit, opportunity, promise remuneration or service to any such individuals in connection with the bidding process.'
FIFA promptly reacted as soon as the bribery scandal was blown open. FIFA President, Sepp Blatter, issued a statement to all the members of the Executive Committee, intimating them with the development, which he said has had a 'very negative image to the world soccer ruling body,' and has ordered a full-scale investigation into the matter.
Back home in Nigeria, the reaction has been profuse, with prominent stakeholders describing the incident as more damaging to the nation's already tainted image, having come on the heels of the recent Abuja bomb blast and the dope test scandal involving some Nigerian athletes to the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in India. Many of those who spoke, however, shed no tears for the man on the cross, Adamu.
'It is the end of the road for Adamu, who I have always said has been the problem of Nigerian sports, particularly, football,' former Gombe State Football Association chairman, Alhaji Gara Ahmed Shaibu Gombe stated while reacting to the bribery scandal.
'They call him 'Mr Fix It' and now he has been fixed. I wonder how he fell into such trap that he had used to undo many Nigerians. They say everyday is for the thief, but one day is for the owner,' he went on.
'Imagine the negative news that Adamu has brought for the country just days after some athletes tested positive to banned substances at the Commonwealth Games and were stripped of their medals The Federal Government should, as a matter of fact, seize his international passport and do a thorough check on him and his source of wealth.
'He has misrepresented Nigeria in FIAF and CAF and should be properly investigated with a view to proving to the world that Adamu and FIFA are both corrupt. Even as I don't believe that FIFA will do a good job in the probe,' Gombe doubted.
While ex-international and former Attorney General and Commissioner of Justice in Rivers State, Adokiye Amiesimaka, is not surprised about the bribery allegation levelled against Adamu, giving his 'antecedents', former chairman of Nigeria Football Association (NFA), Anthony Kojo Williams, called on the Federal Government to probe Adamu's past activities.
'Oyibo don catch am! I think that we should allow time for them to conduct a thorough investigation first. But we know his antecedents. He hosted several tournaments in this country without rendering accounts,' Amiesimaka recalled.
'He (Adamu) used his position as director general of the Sports Commission to acquire international positions. It is so glaring that he used his positions in CAF and FIFA to serve his selfish ends. It is so embarrassing to this country. It is so sad coming on the heels of drug shame by Nigerian athletes at the Commonwealth Games in India. It is a shame that at every opportunity, Nigeria only excels in the negatives,' he regretted.
'This is a serious indictment on Nigeria. This is embarrassing. I think the government should open up the books on Adamu. Somebody who was caught on videotape? There is no escape rout. It is not Nigeria where he has silenced so many people with his money,' Williams said.
As at the time of writing this report, FIFA after the preliminary investigation by its Ethics Committee suspended Adamu from the Executive Committee of the World football governing body alongside the President of the Oceania Football Confederation, Reynald Termarii, who was also alleged to have demanded for 3million New Zealand dollars (about 2.3million USD) to set up a sports academy in Auckland. The suspension stands till mid November when full investigation into the bribery scandal would have been done.
'It is a sad day for football' Sepp Blatter, FIFA President lamented at a World Press conference after Wednesday's sitting of FIFA Ethics Committee.
'… In football, you have the good players and bad players and as President of FIFA, it is my duty to protect the reputation of football and FIFA from manipulation or bad behaviour' he emphasised.
If the claims against Adamu and Termarii are substantiated, they could be expelled from the Executive Committee of FIFA. The multiplier effect could be more devastating for Adamu, as he may also be banned from holding any position in all football-related matters. This means that he would lose his position as the President of West Africa Football Union (WAFU) as well as his seat in the Executive Committee of CAF and consequently, his ambition to succeed Isa Hayatou, as President of CAF would have been dashed.
Analysts believe that Adamu's fall would translate to freedom for Nigerian football in particular and sports in general. They argue that Adamu has been largely responsible for the frequent threats from FIFA to ban Nigeria from international football.
Should Adamu be found guilty of the bribery scandal, he would not only have fallen from his Olympian height, but it may mark the end of his empire, as most of his foot soldiers are likely to go into hiding for fear of being investigated by the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that already has Adamu in its radar.
So, has the chicken finally come home to roast? Has 'Mr. Fix It' been fixed?