If you are a member of the Christian religion, you would have heard the statement, “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”
You would have also heard another one, “Guard your heart with all diligence because out of it flows the issues of life.”
These two are very popular lines in the Christian Bible and even though I have never read the Koran before, I believe it exists there in some form or the other.
I am saying this because the president of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick has put his job on the line and he did this in March 2020 but reiterated last week.
It has to do with the recent ad-hoc committee set up to investigate the cause of the death of Chineme Martins and the submission of their report.
The president stated again like he had done before that he will ensure the recommendations of the committee are implemented even if it costs him his job as federation boss.
That was not the first time he was saying it because in March 2020 he did same when the committee was inaugurated in Benin.
The bottom line is that Amaju Pinnick had so much confidence in the membership of the committee and believed so much that they would do a good job at it.
But can the NFF president insist on the Federation implementing the report of the committee or will he lose his job as he tries to do the implementing?
On the day the report was received, Amaju Pinnick insisted that any club that fails to comply one hundred per cent with the requirements of the Club Licensing regulations will be barred from competing in the league.
Now the club licensing is a big issue in Nigerian football and I seriously doubt that any Nigerian club is ready for this, or will be ready for it any time soon.
Let me break down club licencing in a few paragraphs so we understand how heavy this is.
First, there are five Pillars of Club licensing- Sporting, Finance, Administration and Personnel, Structure and Legal, Infrastructure.
Sporting has to do with how these clubs are set up. Do they qualify to play in a particular league on sporting merit, either they gained promotion or played there the previous season. It looks at medical care for players, written contracts for players before they feature for the club, existence of a youth development program
Written contract with professional players
All teams are supposed to have written contracts with their players and this is mandatory before any player features for a given club.
Infrastructure: This has to do with availability of a stadium and training facilities meeting the minimum quality standards.
Administration and Personnel: In administration and personnel, the club must have the following qualified staff on its ranks- Doctor, Club General Management, Finance manager, First team coach, First team assistant coach, Manager for the youth development programme, Junior and minor team coaches, Offices and furniture, Physiotherapist, Nutritionist, Media and PR manager, Graduates in physical education, Security officer, Security arrangement for home games, Fans liaison officer. There should also be communication of changes in management and administration staff, while they must undergo training programmes and social responsibility.
Legal: This has to do with Submission to licensing system, having a registry entry with the Corporate Affairs Commission and registration of board of directors as well as Ownership statement and club control plus Registration of internal regulatory policy
Finance: Under the finance Pillar, The clubs should have regular financial statements, clubs should have no past due debts, provide annual income tax return and social security, have a bond guaranteeing payments to players and Financial management control.
Let us look at these five pillars of the Club Licensing and ask if there is any Nigerian club that can boast of even ten percent compliance with these.
I think we should begin to trend the hashtag, #PrayForAmaju, because if he insists that no club will play the league next season without fulfilling the Club licensing regulations, then it is either we do not have a league next season or the clubs will go all out for war to remove him (if that is possible) #PrayForAmaju.
Among the committee’s key findings were: Nasarawa United FC, late Chineme Martins’ club, had neither a medical doctor nor a physiotherapist, with a retired community health assistant heading its medical team, and this led to the mismanagement of the resuscitation process; there was no functional ambulance at the stadium as at the time of the incident, which led to a faulty evacuation process, and the player died before he could reach the hospital and; Nasarawa FA and Nasarawa United FC failed in their duties to put in place emergency medical services for the match. The bottom line is that they did not meet the basic Club Licensing requirements. #PrayForAmaju
A summary of the Committee’s recommendations
The committee’s recommendations are simply tied down to one thing- Club Licensing. We can talk for days on the fact that the club had no doctor, or that there was no ambulance or that there was no synergy between the FA and the club, but all of these fall under the Club Licensing which Nigerian clubs have since rejected.
If they had simply met with the minimum standards for for Club Licensing, we would not have been on this discussion. And it is not just a Nasarawa United thing, but every Nigerian club, every one of them. None is ready.
I know Amaju Pinnick wants the best for Nigerian football and that is why he spoke out of the abundance of his heart, but can he pull it off?
Maybe, he could have guarded his heart with diligence, knowing that he would be bound by the words that come from the abundance of that heart.
But then again, maybe, he is sure he can pull it off so he insists it will be done. #PrayForAmaju.
Three times he made the same statement- at the committee inauguration, on an interview with Channels TV and at the submission of the report.
My pastor, Mogaji Adebola would always tell us that Repetition is for reinforcement.
Amaju Pinnick made this statement in March, reinforced it in April, then last week while receiving the committee report, he reiterated the same thing.
I do not believe Amaju Pinnick is just mouthing off. I believe he is serious about what he wants to do, but he will have to battle at least eighteen state governors. Can he win this?
Who will save the NFF president, Amaju Pinnick? Let us #PrayForAmaju