By Tayo Balogun
There are too many reasons why I will not vote for President Muhammadu Buhari in next year’s election like I did four years ago when I campaigned vigorously for him because I thought he was the change we needed. Now, I am worried that I keep paying more for virtually everything: Cooking gas, essential food items, all appliances, petrol, name it. I am exasperated that there is much more tension and fear than there was before we elected our President. If you add these to the hunger and anger that is now pervasive in our country you would understand why I am not likely to vote Buhari again. His speech at the NBA event a few days ago further fuels my feeling that he is determined to railroad our country towards an unbridled dictatorship. How does one explain his statement that judgments by our courts would be revalued to comply with extraneous issues decided by the Executive arm of government.
More saddening is the fact that most of the ministers he freely chose are in conspiracy against him. They either don’t know what to do or just won’t do the needful. Often times, government officials work without synergy or focus.
Take our Minister for Sports, Comrade Solomon Dalung as an example. He best represents the incompetence and sloppiness associated with this government. He dresses like a Che Guevara while representing a government that is neither revolutionary nor progressive. Most of his actions as a government minister have done damage to our sport.
I can give you many illustrations to support this view but I will limit my example to just one- how he mismanaged and fueled the recently resolved (?) crisis with FIFA.
We have always had problems with our football administration from the time football became big business. These became recurring decimals from the time Anthony Kojo Williams was impeached as NFA Chairman through to the times of Ibrahim Galadima, Sani Lulu Abdullahi, Aminu Maigari to the present. The main contentious issue had always been attempts to manipulate elections into the board of the NFA/NFF. Through these times FIFA has been used to bully and intimidate. By the time our Comrade Minister got into office about three years ago the conventional wisdom was that you do not take matters relating to football to our local courts. But Chris Giwa had eaten the ‘Forbidden Fruit’ and taken the NFF election matters to court. The expectation from stakeholders was that Dalung, being a lawyer, would know that our country being an affiliate of FIFA was duty bound to comply with all rules and regulations of the world football governing body. He was expected to know that Nigeria, despite grave political implications complied with the judgment of the World Court ceding Bakassi to Cameroon mainly because our country is a signatory to the treaty setting up the body.
The expectation from the football fraternity was that Dalung would be able to squeeze out a compromise from the warring factions but information from multiple sources indicated that he literally became a cheerleader for one of the disputing parties. Dalung was reported to have misadvised the Presidency until Vice President Osinbajo discovered the deliberate misinformation on the FIFA issue. He reportedly found out that contrary to information provided there was no Supreme Court judgment asking the Pinnick board to vacate office for Giwa.
Even after the government wrote to FIFA, pledging to abide by its commitments to the world body, Dalung stuck to his gun. A day after government wrote to FIFA, the minister’s SA issued a press release giving the impression that the Vice President who was acting for the President was wrong.
According to the release Dalung was reported to have said… ‘this crisis can not be solved with a temporary measure or scratched on the surface. The intervention by the VP should not be viewed as different from an attempt to abate an escalating situation… The Minister notes that the matter has a subsisting judgment of the Supreme Court of Nigeria and will prefer to stand with the Rule of Law instead of the opinion of men.’
What our Sports Minister would want is for FIFA to ban Nigeria and I do not know who will benefit from this situation. Definitely not our country. Not football. Not even the Minister or his cronies.
What then is the way out? Let the election scheduled for September go on. Encourage all parties to conduct an election that is transparent and fair. From this year government should gradually withdraw from funding football and by 2020 the withdrawal should be total with the government providing an enabling environment for the private sector to fully sponsor our football. And yes, please ask Comrade Solomon Dalung to go. He has caused enough katakata in our sport. He has not done much credit to our President.