*Godwin Kienka report was my pathfinder
*Election holds June 20
*Celebrations hits many sports federation buffs
Across the nation, it was celebration amongst many of the sports federation buffs when the news of the structure of the new elections arising from the one-day stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja which effectively shut out a lot of the long serving Presidents as announced by Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung.
The Ministry of Youths and Sports and the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) gave out a draft of the guidelines for the conduct of the elections into the executive board of the 42 sports federations.
The guidelines, which were presented to stakeholders at a meeting for deliberations attracted criticisms from certain quarters as it ruled out some long serving members of some federations. Though, athletes, former international athletes and pundits celebrated.
The stakeholders meeting agreed however, that the next election will be held on the 20th June in Abuja.
Ouster clause in the new election: The guideline was very emphatic on the tenure of presidents when it barred any candidate that has spent two terms in office will no longer run for another term, just as it ruled out any candidate that holds a position in the continental and international body of the sport.
The guideline generated some criticisms and protests from the affected candidates before it was brought to the open. When it was revealed for voting among the stakeholders, there was an overwhelmingly vote in support of the new ouster clauses.
Methuselah and emperors: With the adoption of the guideline for the 2017 elections, sports federation presidents who had served long like Methuselah who Dalung described as “emperors” were washed away. They include International Olympics Committee (IOC) member and president of the Nigeria Volleyball federation, Engineer Habu Gumel who had spent 24 years and buried the body and ghost of the sport.
Affected with relish is President of the Nigeria Tennis Federation (NTF) Engineer Sani Ndanusa who has spent 20 years in office. Others affected by the new dispensation are Athletics Federation of Nigeria President, Solomon Ogba, Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) President, Tijani Umar as well as the President of Handball Federation of Nigeria (HFN), Yusuf Dauda and Nigeria Table Tennis Federation (NTTF) President, Enitan Oshodi, who is vice-president of the African table tennis body. Also affected in Taekwondo’s George Ashiru. He is Vice President Commonwealth Taekwondo Federation.
The minister also barred government nominees from being part of the boards.
No government nominees in new dispensation: Sports Minister Solomon Dalung stated that the nomination of government officials for previous federations contributed to them being populated by “incompetent people.”
“As part of our reforms, starting from the 2017 elections, there will no longer be any government nominee on any federation board,” Dalung stated.
“I believe the absence of government nominees will help guard against incompetent people populating the boards.
“In the past, federation elections were marred in controversies, with various accusations of manipulation and connivance by the then National Sports Commission (NSC). We have had cases of imposition of candidates and exclusion of the real stakeholders, thus calling into question the credibility of the entire process.
“This has resulted in many boards having the majority of their members with either little or no knowledge of the sport, or even any passion for it. In some cases, federations had been run as personal estates with impunity and sometimes outright disregard for the ministry.”
Solomon Dalung added, “The days of handpicking candidates or running a federation like an emperor are gone. We are now going to have federation presidents that have national outlooks.
“You can’t be elected by just 13 people and you write a constitution for over 150 million Nigerians.”
Praises for Solomon Dalung: Meanwhile, stakeholders across board have been hailing the Sports minister, Barrister Solomon Dalung for the new guidelines.
South South representative on the NBBF board, Ahmadu-Kida Musa, said in a telephone interview: “what has happened is a dream come true. This is a humble way of letting people who lead federations know that they don’t have the best ideas.”
Chairman, Ministerial Sports Reform Committee, Godwin Kienka also said the new move would help the federations situate in the proper scheme for the development of their sport and the nation.
He added, “this is a major breakthrough for sports. We’ve had situations where people held on to presidential positions for too long and did not make any reasonable impact on the sport.
“There are federations who haven’t had one programme in four years, and then two months to elections, they try to do one competition for about 10 people to gain cheap publicity. Such people sidelined those with brilliant ideas from contributing to sports development.”
Godwin Kienka report: Dalung said the action he took is in line with the reforms in the sports sector which the Federal Government began with the declaration of a state of emergency after the poor outing of the country at the 2012 London Olympics. He added that under the new guidelines. We want to ensure that it is only those who are real stakeholders in the various federations that will stand the chance of getting into the federations.
“I also heard that apart from some cabals in the ministry who will always brag of frustrating every minister that wanted reforms, but if I remain a minister, even if I do not achieve anything, I want to be remembered as the man who used to wear his red beret, even if I knew nothing in sports, I want to be remembered as the man who insisted that the norms of democracy was respected in the conduct of the elections.”
Electors have now changed: Under the arrangement, the zonal elections will take place on the 9th May and the state chairmen will constitute the electorate. Also, the presidential and vice presidential elections will no longer be voted for by the board members but by the state chairmen and zonal representatives. The minister will inaugurate the new board of the federations on the 9th July in Abuja.
Election time table: Dalung, however, said the nomination forms would be released on 25th April while the deadline for submission of forms is 2nd May.
He said zonal elections would hold on 9th May while submission of names of representatives of other constituents was slated for 12th May.
The minister further said verification of all the names would hold between 16th May and 17th May.
Solomon Dalung said elections for the position of the president and vice president of various federations would hold on 9th June.
Reform is a gruelling marathon: “I am particularly delighted because giving stakeholders the opportunity to craft the document that will guide federation elections is the right thing to do.
“I must however make it crystal clear that reforming the sports sector is not a hundred meter dash but a gruelling marathon.
“And this requires stamina and an ironclad resolve to surmount the daunting challenges along the way. One of the challenges of the sports sector lies in its foundation, the structure and leadership of National Sports Federations”, he said.
He added that national sports federations in every country play key role in sports development process. This is because they are responsible for promoting and coordinating development of the various sports in the country.
“In Nigeria, our national sports federations have not been able to deliver on this aspiration because of many reasons, principal amongst which is their flawed corporate governance structure,” he said.
Solomon Dalung, therefore, urged aspirants in the election to be democratic at all times.