Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Does Aminu Maigari deserve National award?

Opinion by Romanus Chukwunonso


It did not come to many as surprise when the list of the nominees for National Honours award was released two weeks ago with the erstwhile President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Alhaji Aminu Maigari, conspicuously missing.

For some, it would have been more surprising if he had made the list considering the reprehensible roles he played in the whole saga surrounding the crisis engulfing Nigerian football. Yet, for others, there was no gainsaying that he actually merited the award.

If the players his administrative sagacity propelled to win the U-17 FIFA World Cup in UAE, the Golden Eaglets, were rewarded, why not Maigari. If the coaches he employed to nurture the players to stardom could make the list, why can’t Maigari make it too.

If Mr. President’s steward and even drivers could be reward with the national honours, why can’t the man who brought multiple international glory to the country especially when Nigeria was helplessly under the clutches of the bloodthirsty insurgency, Boko Haram, bombing the country with impunity. He brought the international honours when we needed it desperately.

But, it seems the whole brouhaha about Maigari making the award list seems to be a d├ęcor and smokescreen to wriggle out of the fraud allegations charges his board members levied against him and the humiliating impeachment he suffered in the hands of the members of his Executive Committee.
Recall that when his board members impeached him in July, he had adopted a tricky measure to free himself from the entanglement, embarrassment and toga of an impeached NFF president.

He deployed all manners of tricks including dangling his expected nomination for National Honours award at the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Senator Anyim Pius Anyiam to convince and win him over.

The game plan, interestingly, not only worked out but also changed the complexity and tempo of the crisis consuming the football family. He arm-twisted the SGF to specifically pressurise the then Chief Mike Umeh-led board members, to quash the impeachment to enable him make the award nominee list.
The decision turned out counterproductive and deadly to his detractors as Maigari hatched unto it, exploited the benefits of the torrents of letters from the world soccer governing body, FIFA, to turn the table against his hecklers.

After regaining the seat of power, Maigari reneged on many of the agreements, refusing to be intimidated not even by the security agents despite his several visits to their detention facilities.
He had quickly organised and rallied almost all the State FA chairmen around himself, deployed many other tricks to outsmart his board members and other detractors, including the Minister of Sports, Dr. Tammy Danagogo. He chooses which of Federal Government directives to obey, preferring to obey the ones from FIFA.
It came to the head when the FG ordered that both the Giwa-led faction and himself should stay out of the Glass House to enable government find a lasting solution to the problem. But when a counter order came from FIFA, with fragrant abuse, he stormed the football federation in commando fashion with retinue of security agents, occupied his seat, settled for office routine and even signed files.

For the intervention of the SGF who put a telephone call across to him to register his disappointment over his failure to obey the gentleman agreement they reached, he would have continued with the day-to-day running of the federation, even though he remained directly and indirectly in charge of the running of the affairs of the federation despite the intervention.

For the sins against him, there was no doubt that Maigari is ably qualified for the award having dexterously piloted the football federation that won many continental and international laurels for the country.
However, many factors counted against him apart from his stiffness and arrogance against the constituted authorities, which resulted in his expected exclusion from the list of award nominees. Some he was deliberately responsible while others came from his constituency, the football family.
Besides his tenacity and desperation to hold on to power as the Glass House lord of manor, the 15-count charges levied against him by his Executive Committee members, which among other things bothered on allegation of financial fraud and forgery, must have equally counted against him.

Maigari might have forgotten that quashing his impeachment deceitfully did not translate to erasing those allegations of financial mismanagement his board levied against him. He fought to reclaim his exalted seat but did not do much to exonerate himself from the fraud allegation charges against him.
According to his close ally, Barrister Chris Green, Maigari has visited the detention facilities of the different security agencies for more than nine times since the beginning of the crisis.

Lamentably, with his exclusion from the award nominees, Maigari seems to have lost it all. He lost the exalted NFF president seat after reluctantly bowing to the pressure not to re-contest, he also lost his integrity and more pathetically, most Nigerians would remember his roles in the lingering crisis more than the achievements his administration recorded.

In the history book, his questionable roles in the crisis may have eclipsed the multiple laurels he won for the country.

Maigari’s exclusion was not the only subject of controversy and debate trailing the award nominees from the football family. There has been debate on whether the national award was a better recognition to the former Golden Eaglets players instead of scholarship. A scholarship, possibly to university level, would have been a better reward to secure the future of the young lads.

Many have also argued that since FG, the State governors and the corporate institutions have rewarded them with millions of naira, there is no need for the scholarship. But, the truth is that education would provide more opportunities to them than the national honours especially when you consider the attendant risk of playing the game.

More importantly, bearing in mind the unpredictable nature of the lives of players and their predictable involvement in one form of scandal or the other, there is every possibility that the image of the country might be dented should any of them be involved in any disreputable behaviour outside the country.

Culled from Romanus Chukwunonso's facebook page

Romanus Chukwunonso is an Award-winning Sports journalist and currently an assistant Sports Editor at the SUN Newspaper,Nigeria

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