Editor’s note: In this piece, Aderonke Bello of Naij.com wrote an open letter to the sports minister, Solomon Dalung urging him to step into the affairs of the NFF and the NBBF by making some changes in both federations. She also advised the minister to start working and cut out all the unnecessary social engagements for now as it is more paramount for him to start making moves that will bring about positives changes to sports affairs in the nation.
I want to congratulate you on your appointment as the number one sports administrator in Nigeria and I wish you a productive regime in the office.
Having said that, Sir, I want to bring to your attention the things that are not properly done or overlooked in Football and Basketball especially – two of the most popular sports in Nigeria.
NFF and their ban on the contract signing for the victorious U-17 players
First of all, there is an urgent need for you to look into the issue of contract signing for the victorious U17 boys, the NFF said via a press release that they will not allow any agent to sign the boys. This is not in their remit, but making regulations and passing them through their successive programmes of development, where one percent of any such transfer go to the federation, according to international standard as practised in England and world over.
Their responsibility and duty is in players discovery, development and nurturing to enable them to perform to the best of their abilities and patriotism for the greater good of the nation and themselves, which they have done. The players are entitled to sign pre-contract and professional contract agreements before and when they clock 18. The NFF proclamations were under the guise that they don’t want them to sign slave contracts, which is no business of theirs but to guide, advise and support rather than the indecent backdoor football agency creation by the FA.
The NFF can only make laws regarding a legitimate age a player can sign pre-contract or professional contract and not indulge in player trading. It was widely circulated in the media that the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick personally introduced Victor Osimhen to Arsenal FC. This is illegal and fraudulent because he is not a FIFA Licensed agent.
NFF does not have the rights to sell or stop players from signing for any club.
Meanwhile, they are allowing academies to do talent hunts, taking kids abroad. Just last week, some came to Abuja to do a talent hunt show, those are the people they need to look out for in order to protect the players in other to avoid slave contracts. They have to put the regulations in place. Please Sir, it will be beneficial to the players’ careers and the nation to implore them to sign their ITC.
Concerning the issue of kit sponsors,it is such a shame that a nation as big as ours, the so called giant of Africa signed a shoddy contract. Players attending tournaments without adequate kits, each of them got only a jersey which they had to wash and re-use for the next game. Please look into this matter, it is a disgrace. Adidas was our sponsor with retainership fee while Nike is neither bringing money nor kits as recently and currently exposed. Sir, please investigate the Nike contract.
On the issue of sponsorship, the NFF claimed that Arik Air and Zenith banks were the co-sponsors of some FA chairmen who were sent to London for a training which is clearly unnecessary.
The federation claimed to be broke but had the money to sponsor FA Chairmen on a training ahead of their Annual General Meeting, is it to avoid impeachment or for acceptance as their Annual General Meeting beckons? The FA chairmen accepted, instead of them to ask the FA to use the money to offset some bills. The FA is broke Sir, they are owing all the National Teams, including coaches. The NFF playing to the gallery were praising Arik, Sir, can you request for the sponsorship proofs with these ones?
lt is imperative that the NFF should create an Insurance policy for all their athletes, this is rising from a player – Gloria Ofoegbu who got injured while she was playing for Nigeria. The NFF neglected her and even denounced her that she didn’t get the injury whilst playing for the Nation.
Despite all the pleas, it entailed the involvement of a good Samaritan to help conduct a surgery for her. She is amongst many others, suffering from the lack of adequate insurance policy for the national team players hence players playing better for clubs than country because they will end up saying if they got injured no one will treat them, conversely devoting themselves to their clubs than their country as they are better looked after both medically and academically.
Funds for basketball
Basketball is the second most popular sports in Nigeria, Sir, the Federation is one of the poorest with little or no money attached to them. They are reaping the reward of their perseverance, determination, and the love for the sport and their nation with recent successes, irrespective of the lack of adequate investment and sponsorship. I think you should deem it fit to support them and encourage future generations by allocating them enough budget, facilities and resources to enable them develop the game in the nation.
Finally Sir, since your appointment two months ago, we are yet to hear about the policies you want to make for sports apart from fighting corruption in Nigeria. Good to know you have checked out equipment and stadium facilities but there is a huge need for you to do more by cutting out social activities and settling down to get to work as we know that it took the president a long time to appoint ministers. By now we expect you to start putting committees that will work with you together, good heads and experienced hands that can help your sojourn in office.