On the 27th of April, 2018, The Supreme court passed an order that the Giwa led faction take control of affairs at the Nigerian Football federation, sacking the current president of Amaju Pinnick. This action however was seen as Government intervention in football by FIFA, and the world football governing body decided to take an action against the Nigerian Football federation.
FIFA backed Pinick’s administration stating on their official website that “the NFF will be suspended for contravening art. 14 par 1i and art. 19 of the FIFA statuses”
FIFA also stressed that the suspension would be lifted once the NFF, under President Amaju Pinnick and General secretary Mohammed Sanusi, confirms that it has been given back control of the NFF.
On August 20th, Special Assistant to Vice President Yemi Osinbajo announced they had already informed FIFA of their willingness to accept Pinnick-led board, thereby making FIFA lift the suspension.
FIFA clearly saw the court order and the direct intervention of the minister of Sports as Government interference in Football.
In an interview with FIFA.com, FIFA’s Director of Member Associations and Development, Thierry Regenass stated that “Political interference is when the Government decided to take direct control on football” instead of the National Football Federation.
The Sports minister, Salomon Dalung said in July after President Buhari had instructed the DSS to eject Chris Giwa that the president will be going against the rule of law since the court had already passed an order for Chris Giwa to take over at the Glass House.
The Nigerian Football Federation is seen by the Nigerian Constitution as a body under the Nigerian law and it has not yet been passed for the NFF to stand on its own.
However FIFA law is against Government interference in the NFF and sees the body as an independent one.
In a nutshell, the conflict is actually between FIFA laws and the Nigerian laws.
Nigeria might have escaped ban now but various steps must be taken to see that cases of these nature which will affect Nigeria participation in football, be avoided.
The way forward is actually a very tricky one. Either FIFA or the Nigerian Constitution has to shift grounds.
Apparently, FIFA are never going to shift grounds. It all depends on the Nigerian parliamentarians, if they are ready to amend the part of the Constitution that put NFF as a body under the Government. If there’s going to be an end to all of these Government interference, NFF should be ready to bear the finances of the association whenever the National teams are going to represent the country in any football competition.
In respect to the election, it’s not the best timing in my own opinion for an Election. The Pinick’s led administration should try to build a united NFF before going to the polls. There are rumors that the Nigerian government always lobbies the delegates to make sure their candidate finally wins the election.
Thirdly, our football big wigs and direct members of the glass house should stop acting as politicians and instead behave as sportsmen and civil servants.
Lastly, the minister of Sports should play a fatherly role to the Nigeria Football Federation instead of taking sides.
In all, if we are to stop stones from being thrown in our glass house, we have to stop this conflict between our Constitution and FIFA statuses.