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Sports

The Sorry State of the Nigeria Premier League

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I want to express my unhappiness and disgust on the sorry state of the Nigeria Premier League and this press release is made with a view to express how urgent it is for every concerned individual to take immediate measures of correction before the situation gets catastrophic.  It is painful when I read on the pages of News Papers, hear on the radio or watch on the television the present state of the Nigerian League; where millions of naira cannot be accounted for, cases of match-fixing has turned to be the order of the day, violence and molestations amongst clubs at match venues are so rampant, accusation of bias on the leadership of the League against clubs (even clubs representing the country) all these amongst other issues are very pathetic.

I can say categorically that the litany of court cases rocking Nigeria sports , most especially the football house stem mainly from the unfair and partial handling of issues affecting the Nigerian League and that all the negative happenings in the Nigeria Premier League cannot but be apportioned to the fraudulently installed leadership of  the NPL.

I have made several efforts to correct the injustices that have become prominent in Nigeria today in the last 14 months but, all my legitimate efforts have yielded no result due to certain unhealthy tendencies within the football system by a small cabal. Several appeals have been made by me against the questionable election that brought in the present leadership of the Nigeria Premier League and it is still a surprise that the Nigeria Premier League Appeals Committee have not been allowed to seat over the matter and adjudicate as stipulated by the NPL electoral guidelines in tandem with the NPL statutes.

It is very unfortunate and laughable that rather than allow the Nigeria Premier League Appeal Committee seat over the matter, the Nigeria Football Federation in its wisdom decided to constitute a committee headed by Barr. Eddy Mark (who is the personal Lawyer of Rumson Baribote, the illegal NPL Chairman). The issue becomes a matter of an interested party or the issue of a Judge sitting on his own case… just as Baribote minuted on my appeal which was not addressed to him being an interested party.

The above equally exposes the notion that the Nigeria Football Federation probably one way or the other is enjoying the crisis that is rocking the Nigeria Premier League. It is becoming obvious that the NFF as the superintending body has encouraged illegalities being perpetrated in the NPL. Apparently, one presupposes that it may not get fairness and justice from the present set up in the Nigeria Football administration. I don’t see any convincing reason, why the football house cannot encourage or empower crisis resolution mechanisms, embedded in the statutes and electoral guidelines for people to get justice.

However, as much as I find it very uncomfortable that today; the Nigeria Premier League is being audited for missing millions of naira, I take solace in the fact, that I am being vindicated because I raised the alarm when these unhealthy cases of missing funds started, unfortunately, only very few people cared to listen to me. In general, the Nigerian League scorecard has been very poor in the last season and I believe that it is as a result of the inept and visionless leadership of the NPL which points to the fact that when the head is sick, the body is sick as well.

The attempt to stand justice on its head has failed and its only a recipe for more confusion and crises. I therefore call on the concerned officials (Sports Minister) and draw the attention of the Premier League Clubs to address these:

  1. The Nigeria Premier League Appeals Committee should seat and address the issue of the questionable election that produced the present NPL embattled leadership in line with the NPL electoral guidelines and NPL statutes, as well as look into;

I.            Why the Rumson Baribote  (an interested party) will be the one to minute on my electoral petition and direct it to the Nigeria Football Federation, stating therein that there is no place for appeals in the Nigeria Premier League statutes (inspite of the fact that it is clearly provided for by the NPL statutes and electoral guidelines)

II.            Why will, in an attempt to satisfy Baribote, the Nigeria Football Federation constitute an Appeals Committee on a matter that is completely out of their area of jurisdiction when the NPL has a properly constituted Appeals Committee as clearly highlighted by the FIFA Standard Electoral Code.

III.            Why the NFF will make Barr. Eddy Mark that represented Rumson Baribote during the Election Arbitration case (between Baribote and Owumi) the one to sit as the NFF Appeals Committee Chairman on an electoral petition brought against his client by me.

IV.            Why the NFF will allow/encourage Baribote and his band of conspirators concurred an indefinite suspension on the only representative of South West Zone of Nigeria on the Premier League since last year (for no cogent reason other than victimization to undermine the legitimate petition against his very questionable election). It is unfortunate that the South West has been disallowed from having representation on the NPL and this has led to oppression and victimization of clubs from the South West in the last season.

 

  1. The present financial scandal rocking the Nigerian Premier League is quite unfortunate and I therefore charge:

I.            The Clubs to live up to their responsibilities and expectations as owners of the league and the controllers of the board. They should put aside fear and address the issues courageously. I am convinced that the clubs can call the board and Staff of the NPL to explain how the quantum amount of money declared missing disappeared. They can as well invite other respected Independent Audit Panel to look at all the issues of missing money and mismanaged funds.

II.            The Minister for Youth and Sports to take a bold step in line with his oath, dictates, demands and authority of his hallowed office to ensure that the cancerous situation of the Nigeria Premier League is looked into with a view to heal the injustices and reposition the league so much that tax paying Nigerians are not continually being ripped off.  Concerted monitored efforts should be geared at ensuring that the league can become an enviable league like we have in other climes. I also urge Hon. Bolaji Abdullahi to order, in writing, the Nigeria Football Federation to stop and correct their prejudices and perceived biased interruptions on this matter of my appeal about the Nigeria Premier League illegal election that took place on the 14th of September, 2011.

As heart-warming as it is that the Nations President recently called a sports summit with a view to engender Private Public Partnership in Sports Development in Nigeria, so as to motivate the Corporate and Business World for sponsorship and partnership, the question that begs is, which corporate organization will be ready to put money on the development of the Nigerian Premier League with all the leadership crisis and plethora accusations of fraudulent acts rocking the Nigerian League? Of a fact, the scandalous allegation of missing money will debar intending sponsors from making contributions thereby frustrating the laudable intentions of Mr. President which to my mind is one of the major ingredients that Nigeria needs for sporting growth, most especially football.

It is scientific that the darkest part of a night is at the point of dawn, the present situation demands that the Honourable Minister for Youth and Sports in conjunction with the Premier League Clubs take a radically bold step in ensuring that a new progressive dawn visits the Nigeria Premier League. I am also calling on the NFF to in line with the superintending role of their office re-adjust their stands and allow justice to prevail.

Members of the Press should also note that they have a big role to play in ensuring that the Nigerian Football Administration is put in the right perspective hinged on justice and equity with a view to condemn all corrupt and unrighteous intrigues and negative tendencies that destabilize the system. They should also make sustained efforts at highlighting the how and why the NFF and other concerned agencies should create an environment that encourages progress and development in the interest of the game and benefit of the Nation.

God bless Nigeria.

 

 

Akin Akinbobola

 

 

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Leaders

HON. GBENGA ELEGBELEYE – OTOLORIN

“Further motivated by the desire to serve in higher capacity, he resigned his appointment as Chairman Ondo Waste Management Board in 2006, to contest elections into the Federal House of Representatives. Between June 2007 and June 2011, Hon. Elegbeleye was a member of the Federal House of Representatives representing Akoko North East/North West Federal Constituency of Ondo State, where he served as Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Sports;”

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Hon. Gbenga Otolorin Elegbeleye, popularly called “Otolorin” by his admirers was born in Ikare, Akoko North East Local Government Area of Ondo State. His educational background is made up as A.U.D Primary School, Ikare, St. Patrick’s’ Secondary School, Iwaro-Oka, University of Ife (Now Obafemi  Awolowo University) Ile Ife and  Ondo State University, Ado-Ekiti.

He obtained the following qualifications in his educational sojourn:

  • Primary School Leaving Certificate
  • West African School Certificate
  • B.A. (Ife), Ile-Ife
  • MPA (UNAD), Ado-Ekiti
Elegbeleye, Vice Chairman, House Committee on Sports

Gbenga Elegbeleye

As a result of his exemplary leadership qualities, in the Nigeria Youth Service Scheme, Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye was made the Administrative Officer of the Federal Road Safety Commission, Zone RS3 Kaduna, between 1988 and 1989, from where he ventured into private business.

Motivated by the desire to serve humanity, Hon. Gbenga in 1997 contested and won election as the youngest Chairman, Akoko North East Local Government Council in Ondo State.  As a Local Government Chairman, he was also a member of Board of Ondo State Primary Education Board between 1997-98. Before this period, Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye was the Assistant State Secretary of the National Republican Convention, NRC for the old Ondo State between 1990 – 1993.

Impressed by his achievements as Local Government Chairman and his successful exploits in other areas of human endeavour, the then Governor of Ondo State, Late Chief Olusegun Agagu in 2003 appointed him Chairman, Ondo State Waste Management Authority, and under his erudite leadership, Akure was adjudged by the then Federal Ministry of Inter-Government Affairs, the second cleanest State Capital in Nigeria, after Calabar, in 2004.

Further motivated by the desire to serve in higher capacity, he resigned his appointment as Chairman Ondo Waste Management Board in 2006, to contest elections into the Federal House of Representatives. Between June 2007 and June 2011, Hon. Elegbeleye was a member of the Federal House of Representatives representing Akoko North East/North West Federal Constituency of Ondo State, where he served as Deputy Chairman, House Committee on Sports; Member House Committees on Defence, Appropriation, Works, Environment, Rural Development, Inter-parliamentary Affairs and Solid Minerals. As a member of the House of Representatives, he attracted several projects to his Federal Constituency. These includes the following: Neighbourhood Sports Centre Iye road, Arigidi; Sports Stadium at Oyinmo st, Ikare; National Library Ikare; Extension of electrification poles to Ojeka camp road; Odo Irun  electrification, Oyimo, Ogunsusi road, Ilepa Ikare; erosion control and school furniture in Ogbagi, Block of classrooms in the following schools, St George’s Pry School, Okeagbe, Salem School, Ekan Ikare, AUD School V Ishakunmi, Ikare, AUD School 2, Iku, Ikare, Local Govt Pry School Ajowa, Ebenezer Pry School Okorun, Ikare; several boreholes in most towns and villages, among many others

Hon. Elegbeleye was a member of the Ondo State Football Association between  1998 and 2000, Chairman Ondo State Table Tennis Association (2004-2007), Vice Chairman Ondo State Sports Development Committee (2005-2009) and Chairman Rising Stars Football Club, Akure  from 2004-2007, Proprietor, Ikare United Football Club, Member, NFA Fair-Play Committee, from 2004-2007, President Youths Sports Federation of Nigeria, Ondo State Chapter from 2003-2009. He also served as a member of the Ministerial Committee on the Reform of Football Administration in Nigeria between August and November 2011 and Member, Board of Directors, Abuja Investment Company between 2011 and 2013.

On May 15th 2013, the then President and Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency Dr. Goodluck  Ebele Jonathan, found his rich credentials in Sports Administration irresistible and appointed him, the Director General of the National Sports Commission. President Jonathan made the announcement during the Federal Executive Council meeting of May 15th, 2014.

During his stewardship as the Director General of the National Sports Commission, the Commission has experienced a change in fortune as Nigerian athletes, sportsmen and women have been winning international laurels across the globe.

On Friday 8th November 2013 at the Mohammad Bin Zayed Stadium in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, the Golden Eaglets of Nigeria defeated Mexico 3-0 to win the FIFA U- 17 World Cup a record fourth time having won it in 1985, 1993 and 2007 to emerge as the most successful country in the competition up to date.

This was also followed by another laudable achievement in the 2013 Commonwealth weightlifting game tagged Malaysia 2013 where the Nigerian female lifters won the women’s category of the competition with 8 golds, 3 silvers and 3 bronze medals in the competition held in Malaysia in November 2013. This was also followed up with a 3rd placement of the Home based Super Eagles in the African Nations Championship (CHAN) held in South Africa. Nigeria had never qualified for the competition, but the Eagles not only qualified but went as far as winning the bronze medal of the competition after beating hard-fighting Zimbabwe 1-0 in the 3rd place match decided at the Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town on Saturday February 1st, 2014.

He was Head of Delegation, Nigeria U-17 African Youth Games in Botswana, tagged “Gaborone 2014” where Nigeria gathered a massive 41 medals the best outing so far against the record of 10 medals, to emerge overall 3rd best in the Games after winning 19 gold, 10 silver and 12 bronze medals.

Still under the leadership and stewardship of Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye, also as Head of Delegation, Team Nigeria also finished strong in  the Glasgow,  Commonwealth Games  in Scotland. It was Nigeria’s best outing in the history of the Commonwealth , winning 11 golds, 11 silvers and 14 Bronze medals in the 20th edition  of the Games held between July 23 and August 3rd, 2014. Team Nigeria also emerged the best team at the 2014 Marrakech Africa Athletics Championships held in Marrakech, Morocco in August, 2014. The Super Falcons beat all African countries to emerge Champions of Africa Women’s Championship (AWC) held in Namibia in October 2014.

Hon. Gbenga Elegbeleye was recently appointed as a Member of the CAF Disciplinary Board.   He is a member of IBB Golf Club and a  recipient of several awards and honours. These includes, Fellow of the Nigeria Institute of Local Govt and Public Administration; Fellow, Chattered  Institute of Public Administration; Fellow African Business School; Fellow, Certified Institute of Sales Management; Patron, SWAN, FCT; Patron SWAN, Ondo State; Patron NUJ, Ondo State; Gold Personality Award by Skye Sports; African Film Academy Award for Sports Development; National Youth Council Award for National Development; City People Award for Excellence in Politics; African Leadership Award for Sports Development among several others,    Hon Gbenga Elegbeleye is married to Solape, they are blessed with four children

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Sports

BROWN IDEYE: TRANSFER FLOP OF THE SEASON?

“With barely 10 rounds of games played in the EPL, Ideye is already feeling the heat. And with just 3 league games to his name, he is yet to find the back of the net. His solitary strike came in the league cup game against Hull”

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Nothing builds up excitement and expectations of avid followers of the English Premier League to a crescendo, than the transfer window.  Consisting of two streams: Pre-season (9 June – 1 September) and Mid-season (1 January – 1 February), the transfer window offers clubs a veritable breather to bolster their ranks and offload players surplus to requirements.

In recent seasons, it has assumed a reputation of springing up surprises and shocks; or rather EPL clubs, luxuriously swathed with the financial clout of record breaking television deal, have been indulging in big budget recruitments of players across the globe.

 

Date Name Moving from Moving to Fee
Summer 2014 Brown Ideye Dynamo Kiev West Brom Abion £10 million
Summer 2014 James McArthur Wigan Athletic Crystal Palace £7 million
Summer 2014 Romelu Lukaku Chelsea Everton £28 million
Summer 2014 Abel Hernandez Palermo Hull City £10 million
Summer 2014 Leonardo Ulloa Brighton Leicester City £8 million
Summer 2014 Angel di Maria Real Madrid Manchester United £59.7 million
Summer 2013 Mesut Özil Real Madrid Arsenal £42.5 million
Summer 2013 Pablo Osvaldo Roma Southampton £15 million
Summer 2013 Wilfried Bony Vitesse Swansea City £12 million
Summer 2013 Erik Lamela Roma Tottenham £30 million
Summer 2013 Andy Carroll Liverpool West Ham United £15 million
Summer 2012 Steven Fletcher Wolves Sunderland £14 million
Summer 2011 Sergio Aguero Atletico Madrid Manchester City £38 million
Summer 2011 Peter Crouch Tottenham Stoke City £10 million
January 2011 Darren Bent Sunderland Aston Villa £24 million
January 2011 Fernando Torres Liverpool Chelsea £50 million
January 2011 Andy Carroll Newcastle Liverpool £35 million

The last transfer window (Pre-season) saw the arrival of Alexis Sanchez to Arsenal FC, a move widely acclaimed as a major coup, considering the Chilean returns of 10 EPL goals/assists in as many games for the Gunners.

What perhaps came as the biggest surprise of the 2014 summer window was West Brom’s £10m record signing of Nigerian International Brown Ideye who joined the Baggies from Dynamo Kyiv in a 3year deal, with optional one year extension.

From a player whose international career suffered a critical coma after he was dropped by coach Stephen Keshi from the Super Eagles party to Brazil for the FIFA World Cup 2014, to a player who is currently WBA record signing, Ideye’s story is a classical case of career resuscitation, one the seasoned football analyst, Oma Akatugba would term “the Darman Miracle.”

From the Creeks to the Peak

Ideye started his professional football career in Bayelsa FC, and later switched to sister club Ocean Boys of Brass, where he won the Nigerian Premier League in 2006. Like many Nigerian footballers, he pursued his dreams of European football when he signed with Neuchâtel Xamax (Switzerland) in 2008, notching up 23 goals in 55 appearances during a 3year stay at the club. He had a modest stint with Sochaux-Montbeliard (France) which he joined in 2010, with a haul of 17 goals in 52 matches.

Unarguably, the highlight of his club career till date was his transfer to Dynamo Kyiv in 2011, raking in 33 goals in 74 appearances. It was at the Ukrainian club that scouts of some top European clubs began to pay serious attention to the strong, pacy striker.

As fate would have it, Ideye got his first senior international call from Swedish tactician Lars Lagerback following Mikel’s injury-induced withdrawal from the 23-man Nigerian squad for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa. Three years later, he achieved the most significant high point of his career as a member of the Super Eagles team that won the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Darman Miracle

At club level, the Bayelsa born striker was dislodged by Dieumerci Mbokani, thus began his travails and search for a new club.

Following Nigeria’s group stage elimination at the 2013 Confederations Cup, Ideye was heavily criticised by a large section of the fans for his poor and lacklustre performance. It therefore came as no surprise when he was dropped from the 2014 World Cup team.

Though that would have made it extremely difficult for him to secure a dream move to the Premier League, but his agent, Hootan Ahmadi of Collective Sports Management pulled off the surprise deal of the season to secure Ideye’s record move to the Hawthorns, in what could be seen as a new breath of life to his hitherto dying career.

After the Joy comes the Pressure

With barely 10 rounds of games played in the EPL, Ideye is already feeling the heat. And with just 3 league games to his name, he is yet to find the back of the net. His solitary strike came in the league cup game against Hull. That certainly has not helped to ease the pressure from the fans who are desperate to see him justify the huge transfer fee on his head. He is beginning to find himself frozen out of the first team, and there are even rumours making the rounds that WBA coach Alan Irvine is willing to let him leave in the January transfer window.

West Brom Player

Ideye

A stitch in time saves NINE

‘A lot of people are writing on my Instagram and Twitter page saying “you’re s***” or “you’re not worth the money”

‘You can’t criticise me, I’ve not been playing. How can you criticise somebody who has not been playing?

‘I am just unlucky, it was unfortunate I got injured and when I was out the team was doing very well.’ 

In a series of tweets posted on his wall, Ideye lashed back at his critics, but went further to reaffirm his resolve to put his injury woes behind him to prove his worth on the pitch. Whether that will buy him game time remains to be seen. What he’s yet to appreciate, is that in the English Premier League patience is a luxury that cannot be afforded, and the faster he gets up and running in delivering the much-needed goods like the likes of Diego Costa, Diafra Sahko etc, the better for his bleak-looking career at the Hawthorns. A stitch in time saves NINE.

By Melly Da Epic Pen

You can follow Melly Da Epic Pen on his twitter handle @IMELIKACHIEKENE or send in your comments/messages via ekene.imelikachi@gmail.com

© 2014

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Sports

AN OPEN LETTER TO MIKEL JOHN OBI

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It is with a concerned heart that I write this open letter to you. Like most Nigerians, if not all, I mourn not only because the Super Eagles failed, in the third time of asking, to progress beyond the 2nd round hurdle at the FIFA 2014 World Cup, but also because the team put up an unconvincing performance which culminated in a comprehensive 2-nil defeat to Le Blues. When the jury was out on the Eagles disastrous campaign, the first name that easily came to mind for execution was Mikel. The reason is not far-fetched: a player of your stature, possessing the essentials to influence matches, and who plays for no less a club than Chelsea should definitely lead the Super Eagles beyond the previously attained round of 16.

Mikel Obi

Chelsea Midfielder

There is no gainsaying the obvious that currently you are the most vilified player of the ill-fated Super Eagles. From rib-cracking caricatures to stinging personalisations, you are being depicted in such a way that would make Sanni Keita and Yakubu Aiyegbeni turn overnight living legends of the round leather game. For once, I am compelled to agree with the army of disappointed fans. I have followed your career with keen interest, beginning from when I first watched you in action during the 2005 FIFA World Youth Championship in Netherland. Boy, how you exhibited flair, vision and confidence that belied your age! You held the world spell bound with your passing range, composure and coordination in midfield, providing the impetus for the attack to flourish. Though the Flying Eagles gallantly lost in the final to Argentina in a pulsating 1:2 scoreline, you left no one in doubt that of your potentials and greatness. And when you mounted the podium as recipient of the Silver Ball, alongside the precocious Lionel Messi, who won the Golden Ball, the world rose on its feet to applaud a star not just in the making, but for the taking. I recall hearing Nigerians mused that the Super Eagles have got a successor to, if not an upgrade of the mercurial Jay Jay Okocha. That you had two giants of the English Premier League battling for your signature was indicative that the footballing world has taken notice of your talent, and the unquantifiable potentials inside of you, bursting for expression at the grandest of global football stage. You finally settled for Chelsea, the rest they say is history. At the national level, your reputation as the real deal was further boosted by the returns you posted in your AFCON debut in Egypt 2006 against Zimbabwe: 1 assist, 1 goal. It could not have gone any better.

Chelsea Midfielder

Chelsea Midfielder

A career that really kick-started eight years ago with 10 major trophies, including Premier League title, Champions League crown, and African Cup of Nations, is really one to be reckoned with. However, these club/national team honours could be flattering and deceptive. This same period has also seen a gradual retrogression in your game in terms of growth/progression towards attaining peak, influence on matches through direct & indirect assists and goals, and personal recognition. It would not be helpful to roll out the stats table, likewise to compare you to your peer, Messi, who has gone on to break numerous records, collected individual prizes and club trophies, and even took the Albiceleste to the final of the FIFA WC. But one undeniable reality has been the wide margin of difference ever since the two of you broke into world’s stage at the same time.  Many would argue that a lot of factors are responsible for this chasm, the constant however remains that Messi perhaps is more fired to improve and succeed. The alarm has started ringing. Last season saw you in a more limited role for Chelsea, especially in the Premier League. This incoming season, could see you down below the pecking order with the emergence and arrival of the duo of Matic and Fabregas. Football, as you know, has evolved to the point where deep lying midfielders aside executing to perfection their defensive responsibilities must also provide impetus to the attackers. Jose Mourinho, who coincidentally altered your game to suit his defensive style, shares this view. Now is the time to rise up to the occasion; now is the time to live up your real potentials. Go Mikel, it’s still in you!

By Da Epic Pen

You can follow Da Epic Pen on his twitter handle @IMELIKACHIEKENE or email: ekene.imelikachi@gmail.com

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