Feelers from Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), the body that supervises the conduct of elections in Nigeria, indicate that the 2011 general elections may start in January, a mere five months away. At present, the INEC boss has revealed the harsh reality on ground and possible solutions if the hype and hope for credible election are feasible. However, there seems to be a consensus on having a free, fair credible and manifestly peaceful election where every single vote will count. Having free, fair and credible elections is a function of many things and a peaceful atmosphere of paramount importance. Attaining this, to a large extent, has to do with the youths who form 60 per cent or more of the populace. In the past, they had been ready tools in the hands of some political gladiators who use them to hijack ballot boxes, thumb print voters cards and perform other electioneering vices.
The Tide On Sunday this week focuses its attention on the roles or the rights and responsibilities of the youths as we prepare to make a change in the political history of this country, and tell the world that we can get it right come 2011. And we came out with a finding that the youths as future leaders must take concrete steps to ensure credible polls in 2011 if they hope to find a future in Nigeria. Excerpts:
Comr. Marvin Yobana – National Vice President of Nigeria Youth Council and Rivers State Cordinator of Rebuild Nigeria Initiative.
The young people of this country account for more than 60 per cent of the population of Nigeria and as such their roles cannot be overlooked. They are the active participants in any electoral process because they are within the age of active lifestyle. They are the ones that are used for electoral thugery, violence and all that. So this chunk of the population of Nigeria should contribute meaningfully to the developmental process of this country; that includes the electoral process. Having said that, the National Youth Council of Nigeria which I happen to represent, is carrying out campaign against electoral violence and thuggery. What this campaign is all about is to dissuade our young people from being used by politicians to perpetrate these acts that are not healthy to our democracy. We engage the leaders of youth organisations at the local government, the ward, state , zonal and the national levels in enlightenment processes and train them through workshops. And they go back to their constituencies and also train them. So that they can understand the roles they are suppose to play in the electoral process. We did this in partnership with INEC though we have not got their support in terms of funding and the kind of materials we need to train this young people. But this has not detard us. Again, government institutions that are responsible for re-orientation and guiding the attitudes of Nigerians should do more than just a talk shop.
They should go into aggressive enlightenment campaigns in the grassroots. This will tell the voters not just the young people the role they are suppose to play. What they are suppose to know; their rights. When a man is armed with knowledge it becomes very difficult for you to sell any dummy to the person. But when he is not informed he can go astray and buy into any propaganda that is brought by any political group. So the young people need to be enlightened on the roles they need to play to ensure that the election is free and fair; enlighten on the roles they need to play so that they can effectively participate in the electorate process to make sure that their votes count and are being counted; enlighten them to participate actively in the electoral process either by contesting or exercising their franchise and enlighten them so that they cannot be used to perpetrate any acts of violence or rigging. The role of the youth is very very key to the success of democracy in this country.
Mr Sheriff B. Ara-Bornu – Public Affairs Analyst:
The history of Nigeria if it is written will bear the symbol of youth struggle at different stages of her development; the struggle and subsequent attainment of independence speaks volumes of youth’s demonstration of passion, desperation and zeal.
The late Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe in his student days using the Pan African platform deplored his potential for the struggle of our independence which culminated into the Zikist group; Chief Anthony Enahoro’s boisterous motion for independence, Late Chief Margerate Ekpo, the indefatigable amazon was apt for women liberation; also the great Student Union leader Maiyegun who stood his ground against military rule to mention but a few happened in their youth days.
This veritable vehicle that drives the social economic/political development of any successful nation has been so condensed to the extend that their presence is no longer felt on any National discourse. Of course their absent or inactiveness has brought us to where we are resulting to unemployment, youths taking to kidnapping, lead sectarian violence and armed robbery. No wonder one of our politician recently said that the youth has nothing to offer or contribute in this present political dispensation.
This awaiting call has sounded and 2011 is pregnant. No more lukewarm attitude towards National issues. It is appalling to note that the current debate on whether president Goodluck Jonathan is qualify to contest 2011 election could not attract the attention of our youth body knowing full well that it is not constitutional. This detribalised and unsectarian segment of the Nation has been so quiet such that a very few usurpers calling themselves politicians has over heated the polity to its foundation. So is the case of Jos Massacre that has continued unabated despite efforts by some organizations, because no clear umpire like the youth body has pointed at those perpetrating this heinous task to stop it.
It is time the youth should wake up from their slumber and blaze the trail. The youth leaders should wake up to their responsibilities to serve and not be served or stop the noise and join the tribalist called politicians whose days and times are running out. Remember, should the youth sit and watch without taking position what is happening in Rwanda, Sudan, Somalia even Uganda and Zimbabwe awaits all and when the chips are down history will record them positively or negatively as it has done to our dear MADIBO of South Africa.
Nwiabu, Legborsi-Nuka Esq – Executive Director, Centre for Human Rights, Information and Leadership Development (CHILD)
We cannot be talking about credible election when we have a faulty electoral process. What Nigerians are looking forward to, is for the electoral reform to be perfected. Talking about the role of the youth, the constitute is clear on this. There is legal age for every nation. For Nigeria, it is a eighteen years and above. And so young people who were not up to eighteen years last time we had election should be twenty something now. They should be given the franchise to vote for whoever they want. And that will be obtainable under the same electoral process where we have voter’s registration and review of old register. And civil education must also be very critical in the process. So if we talk about elections without civil education that is going to be a problem. Unfortunately and a serious one, less than one year to election there is no civic education going on any where; people don’t know what their rights, they don’t know what ward they may fall into and where their names fall. It is a whole lot of challenge that we have to deal with. For instance, right now you hear PDP calling for party registration. To me, the role the youth should play is possibly to become active voice in the whole process. Let young people add their voice to demand for credible election come 2011. If the voice of the youth must be heard loud enough then the youth themselves must be patriotic by staying away from being lured or bought over by politicians to vote for who they don’t want. One of the ways we can get out of any electoral malpractice is to put the structure as envisaged by Justice Uwais commission to come to bear.
Godson E. J. Etokakpan – Director of Mobilisation, Integrity Leadership Club (ILC)
The Youths are Hungry for a change. This hunger is evident in the number of civil disturbances and violent protests in the form of kidnapping, robbery and other social vices being witnessed all over the nation.
The youths cannot wait endlessly for change. We should be able to rise and speak out. Other wise our future generations would be perpetually relegated to a life of abject poverty by wicked and uncaring leaders who are always weeping up ethnic and religious sentiments to keep the masses under servitude.
The youths have realized that talking about issues does not yield results. The language of violence has become their preferred medium of communication because it yields result. This is a dangerous trend. And unless the political class, who have made themselves lord and masters over the entire citizenry make a conscious effort to bring about a change come 2011, this nation will witness greater unrest than what has already been seen. This must not be allowed to happen.
The expectation of the youths from the next dispensation is high. Nigeria must return from the path of annihilation that the offspring of their founding fathers have forced her to walk on.
The action of such men has shown that they cannot be entrusted with the political leadership of this nation anymore. Clearly this change cannot wait endlessly. It has to commence immediately.
However, should the change be allowed to take place suddenly as it did in Ghana, the consequence will be disastrous. Knowing our affinity to ethnicity, another war will ensure and that mark the end of this nation. The youths cannot accept this type of irresponsibility.
Their expectation is to be integrated into the socio economic cum political decision making of this nation. They want to be given a chance to right the wrongs that have been done. It is an aberration for the child to call his father to order but our fathers have let us down. This country cannot be ruled any more as if it is someone’s private property. Our country must have a leader with integrity and unquestionable character. He must be a true patriot and a statesman with a positive attitude and a corresponding track record for excellence. Youths are expectant that all of these shall take place in the next four years.
They are desirous to vote and make their vote count. They are tired of unemployment, lack of social amenities, infrastructural backwardness, and a corresponding degradation of values. They are tired of political assassination, insecurity, and social injustice.
Is January Date Feasible For 2011 Elections?
The passion for credible polls, come 2011, has become so palpable that whenever it is being talked about, it whips up sentiments with such unimaginable intensity. Its echoes resonate across the length and breath of the country. The government itself is so serious that it has made it a recurring mantra. President Jonathan at every given opportunity reassures Nigerians, and indeed the international community that we can get it right this time by having a free, fair and credible election in 2011. And he made good his promise by putting the right foot forward in his appointment of an acclaimed man of integrity and renowned activist to umpire the 2011 elections. For the National Assembly, they legislated that from 2011, the nation’s general election should take place in January instead of the previous April timing. They reasoned that this time will allow all litigations and elections petitions to be sorted out within 90 days before swearing-in on May 29, thereby curbing the scenario of having a prolonged court judgement that sometimes last two to three years into the tenure of those involved. Plausible as the new law seems, there are so many concerns that it brings to bare. A major one among these is the revelation by Prof. Atahiru Jega after their retreat in Oyo that the present voters’ register is replete with massive inadequacies and demanded a compilation of a credible voters register putting the cost at about N74 billion which must be provided within weeks or salvage the existing one. According to an INEC Commissioner, having a credible voters register means having 80 per cent of the herculean task solved. Nigerians themselves are resolute in their demand for new voters register as it is seen as the only reliable foundation for the process.
Besides, there is the issue of the Amended Constitution which the National Assembly is saying does not need the President’s assent because it has passed through two-third of the states thus an Act of Parliament, while Olisa Agbakoba (SAN) has gone to court praying it should not come to force until the president gives his assent. Every other logistics that can make credible polls achievable is tied to this Amended Constitution and January 2011 is barely four months away. Where do we go from here? The Tide on Sunday, this week sampled the views of some people on whether the January 2011 date is feasible. Excerpts:
Past. Caleb Ajagba, National Coordinator ITPI
A look at the level of preparedness of INEC and the political class would reveal that:
* Structures for a credible election are not yet in place – Review of voters is yet to be done and if this is not done a lot of people especially those who have just turned 18 years or not register earlier would be disenfranchised.
* Fund required by INEC to put all these structures in place is not released to them yet.
* Political parties are not ready. There is a lot of intra party crisis rocking most of the parties.
* Parties are yet to conduct primaries to select candidates who are to stand in an election that is barely 4 months or about 120 days away.
* Electorates don’t even know those they are voting for. The implication of this is that electoral apathy is likely to persist if candidates aspiring to various offices are not known. When candidates are relatively unknown money politics is fuelled since candidates would resort to buying votes if they cannot reach the masses to canvass for votes.
* Manifesto of the parties are not available on the basis of which electoral promises would be made to the masses by the various parties to convince them to vote for their candidates.
A credible election is not just one where there is absence of ballot stuffing and hijacking of electoral materials or outright violence and intimidation of voters by political opponents and their paid agents.
Rigging and subversion of mandate of the people can and will occur when:
* Qualified electorates are disenfranchised due to lack of registration of qualified electorate.
* Where there is no verifiable list of registered voters on constituency basis
* Where there is little or no voter education or enlightenment
* Where there is no well coordinated and understood electoral promises based on clear-cut manifesto that can assist the electorates to make informed electoral decisions.
* Where there is poor delimitation of electoral constituencies, hidden polling stations and unavailability of voting materials on election days.
So my suggestion is that the elections should be postponed till April 2011 and all structures should be put in place. 2011 elections are so crucial to the survival of this nation that we cannot afford to toy with it due to shoddy preparations. It is better delayed to enable INEC put all structures in order if we want a credible election than a rush into it and thereafter be confronted by a tale of woes and unending litigations.
SP Lucky J. Yowika (Rtd)
To get the 2011 elections right is a task that must be done. It is not going to be a tea party, anyway. And the manner in which everyone is calling for a free, fair and credible polls suggest that the people want it free, and will do anything to assist the INEC get it right. Youth bodies, women groups and their male counterparts are daily coming out through paid and none paid publicities calling on the Federal Government to do all within its capacity to get an election outcome reminiscent of 1993 which have been adjudged the best so far done in Nigeria.
Skeptics however are of the opinion that INEC cannot conduct a free and fair polls with the short period of January 2011 given to it by the National Assembly through the recently electoral act. As a result they are putting forward the suggestion that the election be shifted to April, 2011 or thereabout. They have a point, no doubt, but forgot the fact that Nigeria is a system where the more time we have, the more we perform woefully.
Is our economy better because we have spent 50 years as independent? Has our administration performed better with time? Is there any way in which we as a people are doing better because as a nation we are ageing? Yes, I sincerely support the majority of Nigerians who are optimistic that INEC can churn out even a better election than in 1993, with good planning and the right logistics put in place within the limited time. The structure has now been put in place with the appointment of Prof. Jega as INEC boss, and his State Assistants. Majority of our critical populace have given kudos for the appointments and the people are united in their admission that Jega’s unblemished reputation will help in no small measure in the attainment of the required results.
Professor Jega himself has not hidden the fact that he can get it right once his request of N74b, and necessary enabling environment to assist him perform is granted . He has gone ahead to fix time table for procurement of materials, preparation of an ideal voters register and the attainment of other logistics vital for the achievement of a credible polls come January 2011. So why doubt him? His impeccable and credible records as Asuu President and V/C of Bayero University, Kano etc lends credence to the fact that he is a man of his words.
The man is obsessed with putting in place a credible voters register which will be time tested and which will also form the backbone of future elections in Nigeria, insisting that even though a credible voter register is not a “sine qua non” to credible polls, getting a credible voter register is like getting almost 80 per cent of an election right. The way the National Assembly and the government is supporting Jega means nothing less than a credible elections come January 2011 will be achieved. The international communities are not left out in terms of promises of support. We need prayer outside these supports, this time around.
Chief Mike Nwielagi – State Chairman, Congress for Progressive Change
I believe strongly that what is worth doing is worth doing well. I see January time table as very tight. If you ask me, I will say a latitude be given Jega and his people to do a very good thing. We have been complaining about poor elections all this while, it behoves on the INEC now to find time for themselves in order to cover all areas effectively and conduct a free and fair election. There is no need for us to rush and then do a shabby thing. If you allow me, I will say they should beg for time.
Even though they are saying they can conduct the election in January, the January date is not sacrosanct. They can ask for time and then use political approach to it to ensure that the National Assembly makes an enabling law in such a way that the April date is being guided. This is because we have had enough of poor election in the country and the President himself has promised both here and abroad that we are going to get it right this time by conducting a free and fair elections. But beyond the President, there is the commission that is going to conduct the election, there is the security agency that has to be trained; there must be enough awareness for people to be able to know what they are supposed to do on that day. So that we can now boast of an election that is litigation free; it is a yardstick for free and fair election. No election is 100 per cent free. But one measure is that “what do people feel and say about it?” the observers, what do they say? And then the participants are there serious fall out of the election that would lead to dispute? So I think the April date is more feasible than the January date. But baring all these and the INEC comes out to say they are ready for January date then so be it. But they should not be stampeded in to doing it when they are not ready. It is not proper that we keep shifting election. If there is need for us to wait till April the commission should come out and tell us that they need time.
Engr. Kingsley Onyejekwe-MD, Kingchi Engineering Nigeria Ltd
I want to understand what INEC is saying. Is INEC saying that our voters’ register is not comprehensive and therefore requires updating or is INEC saying that they do not have a realistic and credible voters’ register or still is INEC saying that they are using biometric data gathering system to give us realistic and credible voters’ register?
I strongly believe that things should be done properly. Democracy is a government of numerical determination and as such the process should start from knowing the actual population strength that are expected to produce the would-be leaders of this country. If Jega led INEC says they want to do it aright this time, we should support him. However, Iwu led INEC should be subjected to EFCC’s quizzing to unravel the circumstances that must have led to this mess of voters’ registers saga that is likely to cost the country seventy four billion naira as reported by some media.
Also doing this, will in turn serve as deterrent to the present INEC executive to do a good job.
Biometric data collection method of compiling voters’ register is the best thing that can happen this time around for the following reasons.
* It will filter and reduce duplication of persons
* It will help in capturing true identity of voters
* It will assist in making sure that actual votes count
* It will reduce rigging to the bearest minimum
2011: Should Jonathan Join The Race?
The Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, as a way of striking political balance, made a gentleman arrangement by adopting the zoning policy of four years each between the north and south. It started by zoning the presidency to the South-West in order to assuage them for the loss of Abiola, who was the presumed winner of the annulled 1993 election. Former President Obasanjo won the PDP primaries and subsequently won the 1999 election and was installed the president of Nigeria. He was re-elected for a second tenure of four years in 2003. In 2007, the presidency shifted to the North by the same PDP in which case the late Umaru Musa Yar’Adua was declared the winner with Jonathan as his vice. Jonathan, at the demise of Yar’Adua took over to serve out their term. With another election at the threshold, some Northerners in PDP are spitting fire and promising hell and brimstone, should Jonathan flout the gentleman arrangement and run for the presidency come 2011. But his southern kinsmen see Yar’Adua’s death as ‘force majure’ that is greater force has nullified any previous zoning arrangement therefore prodding him to run. The Tide on Sunday went to find out if Jonathan’s 2011candidacy portends any danger signal to the polity. Excerpts:
O.C.J. Okocha (SAN)
Every Nigerian citizen who is qualified to run for the office of the president as stipulated in the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is entitled to do so. And I cannot fathom any reason why it should portend a danger for the unity of the country. Now we are talking about Dr. Goodluck Jonathan who is indeed the sitting president, who ran on a joint ticket with the late President, Umaru Musa Yar’Adua, and if Nigerians thought him fit to be elected as vice president then it also necessarily follows that they think him fit to be elected as president because the qualification for the president is the same as that of the vice president. Following the death of the president, may God rest his soul in peace, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan has assumed office and being sworn in as such. The join-ticket which they had, entitled them to run for a second term after the first term of four years. So ostensibly he is presently serving out the first term of late President Yar’Adua. He should be allowed to run if he so chooses. And I am sure that most Nigerians would say, we are impressed or not impressed and they will vote for him accordingly. So I am at a loss to understand why any Nigerian should say he shouldn’t. He is entitled to run and don’t see why it should pose any threat to the unity of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. He is a Nigerian. Now that he is president, has his presidency caused disunity? Indeed, I am more in tune with the people who say that his presidency is uniting the country. Because the young man is saying the right thing, making the right moves and indeed steering us on the right path.
Comr. Marvin Yobana – National Vice President Nigeria Youth Council and Project Coordinator, Rebuild Nigeria Initiative.
The call for Dr. Goodluck Ebele Jonathan not to involve himself in 2011 presidential bid is unconstitutional, unethical, uncivilized; and it is not in the practice of our democracy that any region or group or individual as long as the person is qualified to be voted for or to vote or participate in any electoral process to be zoned out. We have not had anytime in this country that the zoning formula had worked. Even in the PDP, there has been no PDP Congress for nomination or election of candidates that will represent the party that the North and South candidates did not aspire. It will not overheat the polity for the president to contest; he is cleared by law and allowed by the constitution to run. He is free to carry out his franchise as the citizen of this country. The constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria allows every individual that is qualified to contest. And if we are talking about free and fair election there is no need of talking about region because it is the right of the electorate to decide who becomes the president and not some few individuals. So for you to say that it has been zoned is another way of saying the election has been rigged; that the electorate can not choose anybody from the South even if the best candidate comes from the South. It is an archaic thinking of some political gladiators that want to hold Nigeria hostage. Those persons have been given opportunity in the past to enshrine true democracy for Nigeria but they failed. When they were 30 years, 40 years old, they were not able to help Nigeria; is it now that they are 70 years old that they want to come and save Nigeria? I think it is a myopic thinking of some selfish and greedy politicians who don’t have anything to offer to Nigeria. And at the same time I enjoin Nigerians to resist any attempt to cajole them to accept any barbaric arrangement that does not represent true federalism in the interest of the nation. As Nigerian youths and as a representative of the youths in this zone, we are going to challenge any such group or individual who think that they can bamboozle Nigerians to elect only those they feel that are supposed to run. It will not overheat the polity.
Mr. Azigaloate J. Baabel – Political Scientist.
The truth is that every citizen of Nigerian including Bro. Jonathan has a right to contest election into the highest office in Nigeria. It is the method of realizing this objective that may pose a danger to the nation or not. You must know that verbal threats including campaign of calumny are all methods employed to scare away potential heavy weights in any competition. Take away the presidential boyish smile and you have a Jonathan that can confront situations that stands to mar his political ambitions.
Referring to threats by the Northern elders, as far as I am concerned these are designed to scare Jonathan. Whether he stays scared is another matter when and if he finally decides to run for the Presidential election. One thing is certain, most of his Southern brothers are not insisting that he should run for the election from the depth of their heart. These are people who are easily swayed by selfish interest and monetary inducements. Jonathan must beware of them. He is a Nigerian President and shall remain so if he chooses to contest for the 2011 Presidency and wins.
From his days at the University of Port Harcourt he has read and probably attested to the fact that the sound of Africa seems lost in the echoes of sit-tight heads of state and government. So far, nature has entrusted it to him as a factor to reckon with in Nigeria he should be more concerned with leaving a legacy – the type bequeathed by Nelson Mandela who knew when to quit the stage as the ovation was loudest. He should consider the necessary reforms needed to move us into an honestly transparent and credible election where people of integrity and with the desire for a better Nigeria will offer themselves for service. Screening and re-screening by fire should naturally eliminate those whose only contributions to national growth is in the areas of grabbing and personalizing the common wealth.
Engr. Kingsley Onyejekwe – MD, Kingchi Nigeria Ltd.
It has been observed that the unity of Nigeria was once threatened by tribalism in our body polity. We cannot afford to allow the ugly trend of this to come into our political arena. Zoning brings about tribal sentiments and gradual dilution of national unity. It should be condemned and never to be visited. Apostles of zoning are politically myopic and nationally unacceptable. As a result they are hiding under a zone to cheaply occupy a seat that is not meant for them.
The president, Dr. Goodluck Jonathan is a child of divine project who emerged from the erstwhile political arrangement of zoning. His emergence speaks volume against agitation of zoning formula. It is high time we start learning from this divine intervention. All we need now is to produce a leader that is generally accepted and willing to serve the nation without tribal sentiment. The global political philosophy is geared towards producing quality leaders with impeccable character. Leaders that will bring about world peace. Leaders with vision based on strong content of character. Leaders that value education and knowledge and leaders that cherish the essence of humanity.
I therefore urge all Nigerians to speak against zoning and forge a common front of electing Dr. Goodluck Jonathan as our president in the forthcoming presidential election irrespective of one’s political party affiliation.
Wellington A.T. – Public Affairs Analyst
Aside Jonathan’s political history and favour from God, let us admit that late Yar’Adua and Jonathan’s few years of leadership has not failed this nation. If Jonathan decides to run in 2011, I do not see it as Jonathan but as a continuation of Yar’Adua and Jonathan’s joint ticket. Jonathan is only continuing what has been set to roll and bring it to accomplishment. Let us for once give way for credible leadership. If I may ask, if Yar’Adua was alive, will anyone stop Jonathan from being his vice for a second tenure? This is a leadership this nation will always remember. If the Northern elders insist on their protest, who will they present? Is it Babangida that ruled for years within which he institutionalized corruption, mismanagement and looting of the treasury? Or Atiku who has personality problem and was unable to work together as a team player to move the nation forward? Or is it Buhari who became president through coup d’tat? Who, Who, if I may continue to ask? Jonathan is a blessing to all of us. My advice is that Jonathan should concentrate on key projects like power supply and ensure free and fair election etc. to move the nation forward.
FG’s Reversal On Eagles:What Implication On Nigeria?
It all began with the abysmal performance of the Super Eagles which culminated to their early ouster in the group stages at the on-going 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. A performance that fell short of the expectations of the government and people of Nigeria. The federal government quickly announced the withdrawal of the country from all international football competitons with immediate effect so as to restructure football administration and form a solid foundation for future successes of Nigerian teams.
The poor results in recent times had been source of sadness and shame to most Nigerians who see football as their main source of happiness and unity since successive administrations in the country had put nothing on ground to give them succour in terms of the provision of basic essential amenities. FIFA, sole organizer of Football world wide reacted swiftly by giving Nigerian government up to 5.00pm Monday, July 5, to reverse its decision or face a clampdown. That threat threw many Nigerians into sorrow with many saying the two-year withdrawal and subsequent ban is good enough to serve Nigeria a lesson. But those on the other divide felt it will further throw the country into football wilderness. The federal government initially stuck to its guns, then the confussion as to what becomes of Nigerian football set in. One thing or the other happened in a jiffy and the Nigerian government beat the FIFA deadline announcing the lifting of the ban. However while some hieved a sigh of relief some consider the federal government’s decision reversal as weakness. The Tide on Sunday sampled the views of some Nigerians on the political, Economic and social implications of the restoration to the status quo of Nigerian football.
Mr. Idowu Lawanson – Public Affairs Analyst
Thank God, the federal government saw reason and lifted the two-year ban on Nigeria’s participation in international football competitions. The ban which would have earned us a ban from FIFA would have had far-reaching implications than we can imagine for Nigeria.
Sportswise, we would have lost a lot. Nigeria would not have been able to take part in all CAF and FIFA organised football competitions while the FIFA ban lasts. That means we would have been automatically out of the African cup of nations for 2012, 2013 and the world cup of 2014 taking place in Brazil. All our Youth teams, U-17, U-20 and Women teams of all cadres that had qualified for or will take part in various football competitons would have been thrown out. No Nigerian referee would have officiated in any FIFA organised competition, and even if we decide, we are re-organising our football administration and teams, we cannot get friendly matches to play with any other country affiliated to FIFA. Any country that plays against a country serving a ban gets banned automatically. That is how powerful FIFA is.
Economically, all the grants in form of dollars which we receive from FIA for development of football will be stopped. No Nigerian player playing presently in the local league will be able to move to any club abroad to play football and all coaching programs, clinics, training courses, etc organised for coaches, referees, football administrators, medical personnel and even journalists by FIFA would have excluded Nigeria. A lot of Nigerian Youths who are planning footballing careers abroad as a means of economic emancipation for themselves and their families would have had their dreams shattered.
Of course, the political leverage which Nigeria gets by a Nigerian (Amos Adamu) being a member of the CAF/FIFA executive committee would have been lost. We would not have had any say in World Football as long as the ban lasts. Hosting of any football competition at all levels with all its attendant benefits would have been lost.
Thank God once again that the Federal Government lifted the ban before the sledge hammer of FIFA fall on us.
Mr. Barisi Legbara Wifa, Public Relations Officer, Rivers State Sports Council
The issue relating to the reversal of the ban by the federal government; looking at the background of why he took that decision as a leader, you don’t sit down and look at a long lasting decay in the system and you don’t react. He has sent the correct message to them in the glass house that it is not business as usual. If they had private funding that would have meant something that government cannot control them. But if government is the one funding everything she must demand accountability. And that accountability is to say, perform. The lackluster performance of the Super Eagles was why he took that decision. A lot more things has happened and we have closed our eyes in the past. The President said that time has passed; this is his own tenure. And as a leader, he has every burden on his shoulders to take decisions that will be in the best interest of this country particularly when tax payers’ money is involved. Some of the areas that were affected by the decision include the female football which is a department of the glass house, the age-grade championships. So if he did not reverse it, the women will not go out for other tournaments because it is also supervised by this same persons. His decision was let us close our doors for two years and look inwards and reprepare for the next events that are coming. That again touched on CAF; which means that we shall not be part of the nation’s cup not just FIFA organised tournaments. So its reversal was just to say, “look, I am sending a signal that it will never be business as usual”. So if they are going out for future tournaments, they must also understand that the President must be able to take a valid decision on why he is spending tax – payers money. Some on-lookers may see this reversal as a little bit of playing politics along the line of international football federation in order not to get the other people affected by the ban. Because if he says “No, no, no”, and FIFA now says ‘I ban you’, Nigeria will be affected in all departments of football not just the Super Eagles category. But we cannot also look at it exclusively from that angle without saying that there must be justification for spending this huge money on them. Look at the state of the roads today. People are crying foul about the roads. NUPENG is already making case for the condition of the roads. And so people should begin to know that other sectors of the economy are demanding for this same money that is now being spent without getting satisfaction. So the demands are huge and the decision must not always favour everybody.
Barr. Igbikiberebima T.
The decision of the Federal Government to withdraw the Senior National Football team, the Super Eagles, from participation in football tournaments organised by FIFA in the next two years is bound to be controversial.
This is, however, to be expected given the fact that the performances or some would prefer non-performance of the team, the football federation and the sports ministry have never been free from controversies.
Unexpectedly, the President made a U-turn and rescinded his earlier decision. What this means politically is that Mr. President did not make proper consultations before making the pronouncement. It also shows the President is weak. I say so because FIFA as an international organisation cannot defeat a sovereign state like Nigeria as FIFA is not bound by public international law. FIFA, regardless of its super national character and popularity is no more than a mere association of football federations. States like Israel, North Korea and Iran had continuously disregarded UN resolutions and nothing has happened to them. Economically, one cannot say what Nigeria stands to benefit from FIFA organised competitions if not a total waste. The tax payers money the country would have used to better the lives of the ordinary Nigerians, is being wasted in the name of participation. Nigerians should think.
Mr. Mene Teeh – Public Affairs Commentator
Every well meaning Nigerian will appreciate the decision by President Jonathan to rescind his earlier ban on our football so as not to fall to FIFA’s ban. We also have to recognise the fact that Nigeria is under performing in almost all organised football competitions the world over, be it in men, women or even age grade tournaments in which it normally holds sway in time past. Nigeria has abundance of talents in sports and football in general, and normally always referred to as second only to Brazil as highest football talents exporter to Europe and other continents.
Our football is only being bedeviled by mal-administration, misappropriation and misuse of funds, high handedness and breach of statutes and sometimes secrecy. A ban would have done more harm than good to our football thus the need to hail the federal government’s reversal of its earlier stand. Nigeria failed to turn up for the 1996 Nations Cup held in South Africa and was further banned by CAF, when we were defending champion and fifth in the world rating having won in Tunisia and did well in USA 1994. Let me tell you that the break in continuity at that time is what has put our football in the present state of quashiokor and we ourselves now know that any other break will signal the final burial of our football. With a good administration in place we can still build, giving ourselves a moment of truth, where we will spend a two to four years of developmental programmes. We can’t develop our sports nay football in isolation. We must compete with others. If our people can’t run football, let us swallow our pride for the four years to hire foreign technocrats to show us the way, afterall we have them in all our systems that are working. We can’t afford to lose the following because of a self-inflicted ban. Nigeria will not have played in even CAF organised competitions by local clubs while frustrated Nigerian Players will look for countries in which they can change nationality in order to play international football. Nigeria would have been suspended from FIFA Goal Project 2; will not be eligible to host the 2012 nations cup which it has been placed on standby should Gabon and Equatorial Guinea fail to meet up. Our Professional players looking for transfer to some countries will not find it difficult. The inactivity of our players in international competitions will reduce our FIFA’s seeding to an all-time low which will be hard to make up when we are finally unbanned.
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