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On March 10, 2013, Nigeria’s strength as far as politics of African football is concerned was called to question again when Alhaji Aminu Maigari the country’s candidate in the recent elections into the Executive committee of the Confederation of African Football, CAF, was defeated by Republic of Benin’s Moucharafou Anjorin. Maigari lost by 19 votes to 35.
It will be recalled that Dr. Amos Adamu who last represented Nigerian in the committee was removed following his suspension by FIFA after bribery allegations and there was immediate move by Nigeria to replace him with Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima. The former NFA Chairman was nominated by the NFF and the federal government threw its weight behind the nomination. But in the end, nothing came out of it because in total disregard for its article 12 in its statues, CAF insisted that Nigeria must wait for the outcome of Adamu’s appeal.
Although Adamu eventually lost his appeal and is serving his ban which would end this November, Nigeria was unable to play the required politics to get Galadima to replace him. With the failure of Magairi last Sunday, it means with all her contributions to African football, Nigeria would not have a voice in the politics of football on the continent for the next four years.
Although it may appear like crying over spilled milk, Maigari’s camp has since blamed the defeat in Morocco on a powerful Nigerian. Even as the chairman of the media Committee of the NFF, Chief Emeka Inyama did not mention Dr. Amos Adamu’s name as being responsible for Maigari’s loss, he alleged that some powerful Nigerians made calls to make sure it happened.
Consequently, in as much as there are so many other factors which could have militated against Maigari’s ambition, not a few Nigerians are of the view that the NFF president did not enjoy the support of Adamu and that was why he lost to a minnow like Anjorin of Benin.
When contacted for his reaction, former NFA chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima said the defeat suffered by the NFF boss is indeed collective shame because it is Nigeria that has been humiliated.
He told Weekly Trust that Nigeria’s divergent interests have wrecked Nigeria’s dream of having a member in the Executive Committee of CAF. The former vice-president of the Nigeria Olympic Committee accused CAF of undermining the immeasurable contributions of Nigeria and South Africa to its survival and existence.
Galadima therefore said Maigari lost the election because certain persons believe that once they are not there, no other Nigerian should be there.
Going down memory lane, the sports administrator said “My nomination was sent to CAF through a letter written by Nigeria’s Vice President and delivered by the then minister of sports, Prof Adedoja. The letter was specific. Nigeria wanted Ibrahim Galadima to complete Nigeria’s tenure because of what had happened to Amos Adamu.
“Nigeria said this position belongs to Nigeria and we want a Nigerian to complete his tenure. It was not a question of election but it was a question of by right Nigeria having its tenure completed by somebody nominated by Nigeria government at the highest level. When the letter was submitted Hayatou said there was nothing CAF could do at that time because Amos Adamu had indicated the desire to appeal his ban by FIFA which to me was logical
“We had to wait for nine months before judgement came in November 2011 and Adamu lost his appeal. Now one would have expected Nigeria as a country to pick up the interest at that point to say you asked us to wait and we have waited for nine months we have come to the end of the road. We are still interested in having the tenure of Adamu being completed by Galadima. Nobody was interested in that and we finally lost the seat on March 10 in Morocco.
“So you see that we did ourselves in by divergent interests. By not showing any commitment, now we have fallen into the hands of CAF who wanted it that way. Nothing was done because that would threaten the ambition of somebody who wanted to contest election in March. They sacrificed fifteen months only to lose in March. We shouldn’t expect CAF to be interested in this matter more than Nigeria. Nigeria should have been the one to meet CAF that we have waited for nine months and open the matter but nobody even remembered that there was somebody who was nominated and given presidential backing to complete the tenure on behalf of Nigeria. Nobody cared to find out the position of the nomination we sent. All of a sudden, we wake up to hear that Nigeria has lost election in March 2013”.
On the alleged Franco-phone gang up against Anglo-phone in CAF, Galadima said the English speaking countries should also form a block to have a voice.
“Well again, we should not be crying over this. We ought to have known this. This is not only in football but in other sectors as well. We have known about these blocks. We can remember that it was in Abuja that Nigeria contested for a place in the Africa Development Bank and lost that election to Rwanda. We are all witnesses to that shame. We lost to Rwanda in Nigeria. So we should not be blaming these countries for standing up for their rights. Why can’t Nigeria mobilise Anglo- phone countries to form a block?. Why can’t we do it?. We have to sit down to find out what is best for Nigeria. We cannot go anywhere when individuals sacrifice the interest of this nation for their personal gain”, he noted.
Although Galadima blamed Maigari’s loss on Nigeria’s failure to do the right things, former Gombe State Football Association, Alhaji Ahmed Shaibu Gara-Gombe believes the loss was caused by no other person than Adamu.
Speaking to Weekly Trust, he alleged that the suspended FIFA Executive committee member worked against Maigari because he had the guts to nominate Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima to replace him (Adamu) on the CAF Executive committee.
“He worked against Galadima, now he has worked against Maigari, what does he want? Of course, Maigari has paid the price for nominating Galadima. How can a Benin Republic candidate come and defeat Nigeria in CAF election?
“In that same morocco, Maigari was not allowed to present an agent at the polling centre when the polls started. He was not allowed to present an agent. It was in the second round up that he even had an improvement. Because Hayatou was not in his support, Adamu was not in his support, Nigeria lost out”.
“Now the plan is that no Nigerian should be in CAF for so that Adamu’s suspension is going to expire November this year so he wants to come back through WAFU to contest to go back into CAF and become the president of CAF. I can tell you Hayatou wants to hand over to Adamu as president of CAF”.
A source close to Adamu who pleaded for anonymity said anyone who blames Maigari’s loss on the former Director General of the National Sports Commission is being unfair to him.
“What has Dr. Adamu who is presently suspended got to do with CAF Executive Committee election? This is simply a case of transfer of aggression. Adamu has not worked against Maigari. His camp should look elsewhere for somebody to hold responsible”, he said.
Despite the conclusion in most quarters that Maigari failed because he did not enjoy the support of Adamu, it is being argued in certain quarters that the NFF president lost because he is yet to be initiated into the inner caucus of CAF. It is said even as he is the president of the football federation of one of the leading countries in Africa, he is still an outsider as far as politics of football in the continent is concerned.
Most analysts are of the view that Maigari’s loss apart from being a slap in the face of Nigeria will further undermine the country’s position in African sports. Such people are of the opinion that even if Maigari was not the best candidate for the position, his membership of the Executive Committee of CAF would have at least given Nigerian a faint voice in the scheme of things.