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Federation Elections:How Dare Avoided Past Pitfalls

By Tolulope Oguntimehin

Every Olympic Games offer great opportunity for stakeholders to assess the performance of boards of sports federations in Nigeria.

It also puts the sports ministry and the minister,Sunday Dare at the centre of attention and discussion so it was not a surprise that the 2021 federation elections generated a lot of heated argument among stakeholders about the interest of the ministry and the minister.

In time past, sports ministers have always been in the center of scheming on who becomes president of one federation or another.

So little wonder that fears of having the same scenario were palpable this time around, with all stakeholders waiting to see what the current minister will do.

A lot of stakeholders were not expecting a departure from the past, where ministers threw federations into one crisis or another like we had in the Athletics Federation of Nigeria,Nigeria Basket Ball Federation, Rugby and many more with the ensuing crises dovetailing into another tenure.

However, Minister of Youth and Sports,Sunday Dare appeared to have learnt from the mistakes of the past by not letting crisis created by the past administration stop him from achieving his objective.

He decided to borrow a leaf from Nelson Mandela famous quote “One of the mistakes which some political analysts make is to think their enemies should be our enemies.”

One can easily recall that the first issue Dare dealt with on assumption of office was to stop the crisis bedeviling the Nigerian Football Federation to fester and allow NFF to focus on finding lasting solution to its problems.

The second issue was the basketball federation crisis that saw two factions, one led by Tijani Umar and the other of Musa Kida, making equal claims but he decided to go with the one recognised by the ministry thereby making it difficult for the Umar faction to carry out any activities.

The third was that of Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) that saw series of impeachments of the President by board members and at a point in time a lot people thought the minister was fighting a losing battle until normalcy was restored by the IAAF and a new election conducted after the expiration of the tenure of the last board.

Same also applies to the Rugby Federation but it was dealt with decisively.
However, all these would have been in the dustbin of history if the sport minister had failed to deliver a free and fair federation election, which was threatening to consume him with pockets of events happening few days to the outing.

A press release issued by the sports ministry on how the election would be conducted gave a sign on what to expect with a pronouncement that federations with constitutions recognised by their respective international bodies could go ahead to conduct their election on the assigned date with the ministry sending in observers,while the ones without constitution will have their election done in line with sports ministry’s guidelines.

But just before the day of the election, some aggrieved members in the badminton federation got a court injunction to stop the election from holding and unlike in the times past where the ministry would have ignored the injunction, the ministry respected the court position thereby forestalling a future crisis.

Not only that,a crisis was also averted in the Nigeria basketball federation after a group of stakeholders, on the platform of Nigeria Basketball Vanguard petitioned FIBA and IOC saying they won’t participate in any election until a constitution is ratified by the Congress of the Sport.

Interestingly,the minister did not see it as a threat or an opportunity to show his powers, he agreed to hold a meeting with the two parties and an amicable solution was found with election shifted to a later date.

By virtue of these groundbreaking decisions going into the federation elections Sunday Dare has been able to save us four years of crisis and in so doing avoid the pitfalls of the past to usher in a new set of federation executives devoid of internal wrangling and rancor for the first time in twelve years

If this is not another feather in the sports minister’s cap,we wonder what it is.

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