I wrote this piece on September 9, 2010 but never put it up on my blog.
Now I just felt I should, especially with all the talk about Amos Adamu in bribery scandal
Why are Maigari and Adamu still free?
The events in Nigerian football since after the World Cup would easily make four complete seasons of a Hollywood blockbuster movie.
I have read the script and watched the movie attentively, just like I did with “24”, “Prison Break”, “Criminal Minds” and “Fringe” yet I believe something is definitely missing from the script.
Its either the script writer missed something, or maybe the director decided to let go of an important part of this movie.
Nigerian football watchers have cried foul over the way our football has been run in the last 20 years and their cries, maybe were heard at the end of the 2010 World Cup when the president of the country, Goodluck Jonathan decided to withdraw all national teams from participating further in football, at least for the next two years.
An ill-advised decision no doubt, but it at least started the series of changes we have witnessed in our football, if at all these changes are genuine.
First there was an impeachment exercise carried out in the executive board of the Nigeria Football Association, NFA where the chairman, Sani Lulu, first vice chairman, Amanze Uchaegbulam and Head of Technical Department Taiwo Ogunjobi were removed.
In their stead, we had Aminu Maigari installed as chairman while Obinna Ogbah was made vice-chairman.
Nigerians hailed the move but it was all done to create scapegoats so that the ruling cabal who had continually destroyed Nigerian football would continue to have a field day.
Episode 5 of season one had the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission EFCC set on these men and the charges against them had to do with massive misappropriation of funds.
I questioned the director of the movie and asked him how the chairman of the NFA, his vice and the head of technical department were being investigated for financial crimes against the country but the man in charge of all finances at the board, Aminu Maigari was a free man, now running the show but the director who was no Stephen Spielberg just told me to shut up and either enjoy the movie or watch something else.
Since it was a movie currently topping the Nigerian charts I decided to watch on.
I travelled to Owerri the base of one of the accused, Amanze Uchaegbulam and he cried to the high heavens that he was not guilty and was one of the most innocent men that have administered Nigerian football; the ranting of a mad man, no doubt.
But one thing he said stuck to me. He asked why the vice chairman of an association is being investigated for fraud when the director of finance is free man.
It certainly did not make sense because no financial dealing could have gone on without the input and approval of Aminu Maigari. More questions no answers.
At this point I was in Season 2 of the movie and the NFA were supposed to have fresh elections but there were a lot of controversies in the run down.
First the delegates were illegal. There tenure expired in 2009 but was fraudulently extended for one year by Sani Lulu so the same delegates could vote for him at the elections.
Then for the first time, the NFA paid development grants to all state FAs and to top it all they were all taken to South Africa and allegedly bribed five million naira each (about $33,000) all to make them loyal to the ruling class/
They argued that the tenure elongation was approved by FIFA after the congress of the NFA agreed and signed it but a man called Gara Gombe who was at that congress meeting said they visited people rooms at night and asked them to sign attendance registers.
“This so called attendance register was attached behind the amended statutes as signatories and sent to FIFA,” Gombe said.
Harrison Jalla, an ex footballer with backing from Segun Odegbami, Austin Jay Jay Okocha, John Fashanu and others went to court and there was a court order to stop the elections but the elections went on as they claimed they never received the court order.
One week after Aminu Maigari was voted in as new chairman of the Nigeria Football Association Obinna Ogbah who was on the board announced to the world that the former board actually received the court order and it was discussed at a meeting in the presence of the FIFA delegate where they decided to ignore it.
Following this revelation, a Lagos High Court called for the arrest of 28 people who were part of the group that ignored the court order and declared the board elections null and void.
Meanwhile, in season three of the movie Sani Lulu, Amanze Uchaegbulam, Taiwo Ogunjobi and Bolaji Ojo Oba were arrested by EFCC operatives, taken to court and ordered by the judge to be remanded in prison custody until Monday.
But my question as always remains, why is Aminu Maigari not part of the lot? How come he is walking free? Was he not part of the rot? Was he not a principal player in the last board?
What about the 36 state FA chairmen who were alleged to have received gratification money from the past board of the Nigeria Football Association? Were they investigated?
What about the list of journalists I hear were on the payroll of the former board to do their dirty business? Can that list be made public so Nigerians can know?
Can they also tell us if the NFA runs a media house to have journalists on their pay roll?
What about the Presidential Task Force, PTF? Shouldn’t they be investigated? They raised so much money, tax payers’ money for the World Cup and that money was for the duration of the World Cup.
We were knocked out after the first round so was any money returned? Did they even declare what was left? How come the EFCC have decided not to investigate them?
Then finally, what about Amos Adamu? A lot has been said about him in the last 20 years and his name has been mentioned in almost every financial scandal in Nigerian football.
Funny enough his name is not really Amos Adamu but Babatunde Aremu but has anyone asked why he changed his name? Has anyone tried to investigate the source of his stupendous wealth? We all know he is a civil servant.
There is a lot wrong with Nigerian football and I see it as very sad that we have made four people scapegoats and we are smiling, back slapping and we clink our wine glasses in fulfilment.
All I see are ostriches burying their heads in the sand and the problem will be there with us when we come out of the sand.
Selective justice never helped any one. We must take these corrupt men out of Nigerian football once and for all by breaking the cabal.
The time to do it is now. Let us start a full investigation and bring more people to book.