Athletics Federation of Nigeria Presidency: 12 contenders, pretenders emerge

*Who wears the crown of Nigerian athletics?

*Ogba’s appointed President or independent President?

By Olajide Fashikun

At the last count, may be more persons may still be emerging, there are 12 persons who have informally expressed some form of interests to take over the mantle of leadership from the outgoing President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) by the 25th April when the forms will be available to be collected.

Like General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida promised when his tenure was forced to come to an end, he said, “we know those who will not take over from us but we also know those that will take over from us.” Two-term President, Solomon Ogba had been quoted to have said if he won’t return for the third term he will have a choice of who will take over from him.

Sources within the sport confided in that Ogba has three candidates in the dozen persons who have since the last stakeholders conference in Abuja started more active campaign to secure the votes of Nigerians to either further mar the buried cadaver of the sport or exhume it and give it a new breathe of life.

Prof Ken Anugweje: The University of Port Harcourt don has been revealed has got the official backing and blessing of Ogba to take over from him. He is the most trusted ally that is given the nod to step in. Pundits of the sports raised their hands that it is better we forget any revival if he gets the position. That the nation will and should sing the Nunc Dimitis.

Alhaji Tunde Abdulkareem
Alhaji Tunde Abdulkareem

Alhaji Tunde Abdulkareem: He is the outgoing Vice President of the AFN. He was reported to have taken out Ogba at the Athletics stakeholders meeting with an eye on the major prize. The former Accountant General of Kwara and strong financier of the sport in his state. He may be the best outsider to the throne but we heard that some forces have insisted a former athlete is needed to take over from Ogba.

Fidelis Wadzani Gadzama: The only bone that stuck in the neck of the ‘Evangelist’ in the last four years. He had declared his intention to run against Ogba no matter what. He made the mismanagement of the AFN as point to continually fight. Pundits say if only for his consistent courage, he deserves to be the next President. As an athlete, the 4x400m Sydney Olympics gold medallist, was a success. The only reservation expressed is that he lives abroad and does not have the kind of financial muscles to manage the federation when government funds don’t come so early.

Samuel Fatunla: Once a staffer of the AFN and a mobile repository of statistics of the sport. The athletics track consultant was mentioned as one of the few who had thrown his hat into the fray. How true is this is yet to be ascertained. He worked with about four or five Presidents of the federation but how this knowledge can take the sport if given the chance has been raised against him.

Hon Shehu Gusau: Solomon Ogba’s first term VeePee and a strong but very quiet member of the Board. He contested the second term Ogba Presidency. The former House of Representatives member from Zamfara State understands the sport but issue is, can he mobilise the Corporate Nigeria to buy-in into the sport. To this, many analysts say yes he can.

Enefiok Udo-Obong: An aide of Solomon Ogba. His name seems like an hocus-pocus. He was Gadzama’s team mate in the Sydney feat. He does not have a deep pocket but can sell and deliver the publics of the sport as a marketer. Analysts say, he was known at the last point to have backed another candidate so his name on this list may be a mathematic not an arithmetic. We are watching.

Charity Okpara: A former athlete, suave talker whose re-emergence was the athletics stakeholder conference that took place before the minister’s. She has not lived at home to be re-aculturised said one of our pundits. The Vice Chairman would have been good for her to learn the ropes but Presidency? I doubt if this is true about her. We are waiting and watching.

Rosa Collins: The former athlete was also mentioned. The Team Ogba had seen her as being sponsored by a force against Ogba. Now that Ogba has been officially told he can’t run, will the forces further propel her. She is yet to understand the Nigerian ways, said our independent analyst.

Saul Weipogowa: His name came up culminating in a long but loud laugh by our independent analyst who said, snail go use horn to knock elephant out. The quarter mile former athlete was ruled out. I think he only wants to make the list not because he wants the position.

Henry Amike: He is also close to Ogba. He would have been the best candidate given his current role as President of the Nigerian Olympians Association (NOA) but question is, how much difference can he bring to bear on the Ogba reconstruction sports in a post. Being a successful athlete may not guarantee a great administrative acumen.

As we inch near the podium of election, we shall see if other candidates will storm the ring with anger to make the sport better or make the list while the pretenders are separated from the contenders for the diadem. Our ears are on the ground.


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