By Femi Solaja
Less than a week after what looks like a showdown between the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) and the Ministry of Youth and Sports over the guidelines released for the forthcoming elections into all the sports federations, both bodies have buried the hatchet to give way for the elections.
The truce was as a result of a meeting held in Abuja between the executive committee of NOC and the Sports Ministry team led by the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, in his office.
According to the Public Relations Officer of NOC, Tony Ubani, “The Olympic body in the country applauded Sports Minister for his love, understanding and demonstration of Olympic values after agreeing to amend the guidelines for the 2017 federation election guidelines.”
The latest uncertainty was due to the Sports Ministry releasing the guidelines for the federation elections which the NOC said was at variance with the Olympic Charter as well as the International Federations (IFs).
Two contentious provisions — The issue of eligibility as contained in the guidelines that did not conform with the Olympic Charter, that seek to bar some Nigerians in the international federations from seeking office were expunged after the minister met with NOC bigwigs and federation presidents on Friday.
NOC President and a member of International Olympic Committee, Habu Gumel, said that he and his members admired the Sports Minister’s great courage and moral values by dropping the contentious provisions that were not in line with the IOC and IFs statutes.
“All the stakeholders applauded the Sports Minister for his handling of the disagreement and resolving it amicably. This shows that he is a true democrat, a lawyer who understands the implications of disobeying rules and he has demonstrated his undying love for Nigerian sports,” Gumel said.
After mutually agreeing to remove the offending provisions and allowing the federations’ constitutions to prevail, Dalung said: “We decided to make amendments to some of the guidelines after wide consultations with the stakeholders in the industry to conform with the IOC Charter and International best practices.”
The minister also said: “We also resolved that the NOC should be actively involved in driving the process and look at areas that can be adjusted in the interest of democracy.”
Those who met with the Sports Minister to review the offending provisions include: NOC President, Gumel, second VP, Chief Fatai Williams (Swimming), Scribe Tunde Popoola, Edward Fom (Rugby), Daniel Igali (Wrestling), Dauda Yussuf (Handball), Dr Lanre Glover (Triathlon) and George Ashiru (Taekwondo).
In a related development, the Sports ministry has tentatively fixed the National Sports Federation elections for 30th of May, 2017.
The amended guidelines released at the weekend and co-signed by the acting Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Abdulrasaq Salau, and the Scribe of NOC Popoola state that a congress for the elections of zonal representatives, vice-presidents and national federation presidents would also hold the same day in Abuja.
The national federations have until April 27, 2017 to set up their electoral committees while the sale of nomination forms begins on May 2. The deadline for the submission of forms is May 9, 2017.
Hearing of petitions and appeal cases will hold from 1-10 June, 2017 while bye elections arising from petitions and appeals for zonal and national elections come up on June 13, 2017.
The inauguration of the National Sports Federation Boards holds on 27 June, 2017.