- Category: Sport
- Published on Friday, 02 July 2010 07:49
- Written by Punch
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The House asked the President to rescind the decision. In a resolution, the Lawmakers noted that withdrawing the national team from international engagements would not only worsen the apparent crisis facing football in Nigeria , but could also earn the country the “wrath of FIFA.”
A lawmaker from Benue State, Mr. Emmanuel Jime, who sponsored a motion on the issue, had argued that the decision to “disband” the Nigeria Football Federation and withdraw the Super Eagles from international engagements would be counterproductive no matter how well-intentioned.
He said, “If this decision is not rescinded, our football will be in disarray and we are about to jeopardise the future of a whole generation of Nigerian youths.”
He also observed that Jonathan’s action would be interpreted by FIFA as a case of the Federal Government interfering with sports administration in the country, “which can earn us an immediate ban by FIFA.”
He agreed that the Super Eagles performed poorly at the ongoing 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but the team was not the worst.
Jime cited Italy, the defending champions, and France, among other strong teams that had crashed out of the championship.
He said, “What we should do is to investigate our poor performance to determine whether corruption or inadequate preparations were responsible.
“Let us avoid a situation whereby we will incur the wrath of FIFA and render our youths, who rely on football as a means of livelihood, jobless.”
But, the Minority Leader, Alhaji Mohammed Ndume, supported the President’s decision, describing it as “the most important decision taken in the country by Jonathan.”
Ndume claimed that football was not “the priority of Nigeria” at the moment.
According to him, Nigerians are more interested in going to school and seeing their government fixing social infrastructure than spending huge funds on football.
However, the Chief Whip of the House, Mr. Emeka Ihedioha, backed Jime’s motion. He said that football was a “unify factor in Nigeria.”
Rather than suspend the country from international engagements, Ihedioha suggested that the government should organise a comprehensive sports development programme for the youths.
The Minority Whip of the House, Mr. Femi Gbajabiamila, also supported the motion. He said that the President took a hasty decision without considering the fact that “football is like the life of Nigeria.”
“This is like killing an ant with a sledge harmer; or suspending your child from school for two years because he has failed an examination.
“We appeal to Mr. President to please leave football alone,” Gbajabiamila said.
Another member, Mr. Emma Diya, warned that the police might have to contend with more cases of armed robbery and other forms of violent crime if Nigeria was shut from football events.
“Whenever the Super Eagles are playing, there are no cases of armed robbery because everybody is watching the game”, Diya added.
The House later passed the motion in a majority voice vote and mandated the Committee on Sports to probe the “abysmal performance” of the team at South Africa 2010.
Meanwhile, fears that Nigeria may attract sanctions from the Federation of International Football Associations, heightened on Thursday with the government’s declaration that the country’s sovereignty was more important than the world soccer ruling body’s laws.
Minister of Sports, Alhaji Ibrahim Bio, who spoke to journalists in the State House, made the declaration while defending the Federal Government’s decision.
He said, “Government is trying to liaise with FIFA in order to get these things done without necessarily violating FIFA rules.
“Nigeria will do everything possible to take the interest and sovereignty of Nigeria first and foremost and if that is in conformity with FIFA rules, so be it, but if it is not in conformity with FIFA rules I think the sovereignty of Nigeria and interest of the people is most paramount.”
Bio likened the problems plaguing football administration in Nigeria to cancer.
“My friend, you cannot have cancer and continue to live with it because you don’t want to spill blood, we are ready to spill blood to remove the cancer, so be it,” he added.
He said the government was guided by the provisions of the controversial Decree 101 in taking the decision.
FIFA had previously frowned at the decree, which is the basis of the government’s involvement in football administration in Nigeria.
Arguing further in defence of the decision, the minister said, “Decree 101 is where the real conflict comes from; it has been in existence and it is still within our statute books.
“Before my coming, there was an agreement between my predecessor and FIFA that Decree 101 will be amended.
“That has been with the National Assembly; as far as the Nigerian government is concerned, that decree is still within the statute books because the National Assembly has not amended it. “So it is not my fault.”