A glimmer of hope twinkled for Nigerian football on Tuesday as Veteran football administrator and lawyer, Mohammed Edewor announced that he will run for the presidency of the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF.
Mr. Edewor made his interest known to journalists in a press conference at the Tafawa Balewa Square (TBS), Lagos.
The former chairman of now defunct Concord FC Abeokuta said he is joining the race to save dying Nigerian football.
He explained that Nigerian football is in depression because of the selfishness of those who have been in charge over the years, saying Nigeria football needs a lift to make it attractive to the private sector.
According to the Lagos-based lawyer, the huge sums of money generated from the game in the country was enough to propel it to another level but regretted that it has not been properly utilised.
He said, “When we were running football, I ran a private club effectively and independently, we didn’t need the large sums of money that is being put into football now. We never had a better time for football than in this generation. But we don’t have the platform to develop it because it is done by people who put their interests before football.
“When I was a board member at Lobi Stars, salaries were paid and we used to give other clubs playing in the Premier League money. Sometimes while going for matches the clubs tell us, ‘we’ve ran out of petrol and we haven’t been paid for three months.’ If you want to play a competitive game against me and I’m giving you N100,000 to eat, then I’m entitled to win that game. That’s what these set of administrators have brought to the game.”
Edewor, who was a member of the Presidential Task Force for Nigeria’s first World Cup appearance in 1994, particularly decried the sorry state of the domestic league.
“There’s a need for us to take a critical look into our football and the NFF needs to put a programme in place for the benefit of players. The Nigeria league has lost its followership because it no longer has attraction.
The league needs reorganization in four ties, a minimum wage for players and improvement of referees.”
For this to happen, government needs to hands off clubs for independent management, Edewor said.
He added, “We have to look at football professionally. There’s enough money now, there’s never been this kind of money in our football, never. When Insurance was under Chief Igbinomwanhia Ekhosuehi, the club was at their peak, but nowadays, with all the huge sums you hear government pumps into the club, they are in the second division with a slim chance of going up.”
Edewor lamented that the present board had taken the nation’s football backward. “I want to run a football that is privately and independently managed. I got into football management in 1992. Then, there was no money in football, but Sani Toro was able to manage the situation very well. Today, there is money, but those managing it are not sincere in their dealings.
“If you look at the SuperSport (TV Rights) deal, it didn’t trickle down. Somebody should ask them, ‘what happened to the SuperSport money? What happened to the sponsorship money? It doesn’t have to be about Edewor, it is about the best football man. You don’t have to kick the ball but you need sense of management and transparency,” he added.
“I was told in South Africa that one of the reasons we are having issues with our sponsorship is that you can determine who’s going to win the next match, all the home games are won and the away games lost.”
The elective congress of the Nigeria Football Federation will take place in six months time.