Ex Super Eagles star player, Segun Odegbami, believes that the crisis in the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, was caused by the irregularities in the laws governing the game in Nigeria.
Speaking during a conversation on Channels Television on Thursday, Odegbami said that the structures were not well oiled, as the statutes of the NFF were faulty, having been altered in the past to favour certain agenda.
He believes that this has been the reason why Nigeria in recent times has continued to be in conflict with the world football governing body, FIFA, who is also supposed not to interfere in the matters, being a third party themselves.
He explained that the elections into the board of member organisations are supposed to be the internal businesses of those member bodies and FIFA should recognize the peculiarity of each country.
On the view that FIFA’s interference was because the NFF matter was taken to a regular court, against the recommendation that they be taken to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), Odegbami referred to a number of cases in the past when FIFA had recognised directives given by Nigerian courts.
He insisted that as long as the NFF is part of Nigeria, they should be subject to the laws of the country and this, he said, FIFA needs to understand.
On the recommendation of FIFA that all football matters should be taken to CAS, Odegbami said that this was not a valid recommendation as long as there were still cases of people going to CAS and failing to get justice.
He mentioned a number of cases from Nigeria which were still pending at the Court of Arbitration for Sports without much progress because of the unnecessary delays usually experienced there.
Sharing his experience, he disclosed that he spent about $36,000 fighting for his mandate to lead the NFF without any result at the Court of Arbitration for Sports.
He, however, admitted that Nigeria was in a more complicated situation as it was torn between the need to avoid FIFA’s ban and the directive of a court, which must be respected by any country that believes in the rule of law.
The brighter side, according to Odegbami was that the crisis has presented an opportunity for Nigeria to right all the wrongs of the past, as there were many disgruntled groups in the football.
He advised all stakeholders to go back and restructure the statutes governing football in Nigeria and correct all the anomalies in it, adding that this should start with holding congresses across all the states of the federation.
He also recalled that there was a court order against the football body’s change of name from Nigerian Football Association to Nigerian Football Federation.
Describing it as one of the impunity of the past, he wondered how the Nigerian Government came about funding the NFF when a Nigerian court had directed that the organisation should stop parading itself as the NFF.
Odegbami said that he was not willing to pay attention to the current problem but would be focusing more on the opportunity it presents all concerned to do the right thing and ensure that Nigeria does not find itself in the same crisis in another four years.
He commended the embattled NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, for having already recognized the need to go back to the books for solution to the crisis.