I wish to respond as much as I can to a derogatory publication made with reference to me, by an amorphous organisation describing itself ambitiously as OGANIRU ANAMBRA FOOTBALL GROUP.
While it is not my intention to descend into the sewage with the antagonists by repling to every inanity therein, I would simply like to clarify a few of the salient issues they raised .
Firstly, I have been involved in football all my life. I played actively for the famous Anambra club, Udoji United as a central defender before proceeding to the world-renowned Fernebache club in Turkey, where I distinguished myself adequately. I represented Nigeria in all age-category national selections and am a worthy football export of Anambra State.
After retirement, I went into football administration at the national level, learning the ropes and the politics of it in its corridors of power. My ultimate intention was to acquire enough knowledge to serve the nation in general and Anambra in particular if the opportunity presented itself.
As an ex-international, I have added value to Nigerian football…I am a top official of the National Association of Nigerian Professional Footballers Association (NANPF) and the Promoter of the 042 Football Legends Association.
042 has been playing the charitable role of identifying with the nation’s ex internationals who are in need of support.
Respectfully therefore, I have not been gallivanting as the OGANIRU group imagines but rather paying my dues.
I have rather been imbibing a useful understanding of the machinery of football administration in a holistic and inclusive way, learning not to limit myself through myopia, narrow- mindedness and isolationism.
In that process, I have made invaluable contacts along the way, locally and internationally, which will no doubt serve me well in football administration.
As for the ungracious comment that I was a ‘calamity defender’,(whatever that means), although it is neither here nor there, I suggest that the best people to issue a testimonial of my competence or otherwise as a player, should be my various coaches at club and country, locally and internationally.
Having said that, I regard myself as qualified to contest the Chairmanship of the Anambra State Football Association, just like thousands of other people in the state.
I am only distinguished by the fact that I actually stepped forward and offered myself for the job at the appropriate time.
Dr. Emeka Okeke is eminently qualified as well to be Chairman of the Association. I respect his impressive credentials as the proprietor of a football club in the state and admire his undoubted enthusiasm for the game, which I share.
Nevertheless, having followed his activities as Chairman of the Anambra State Football Association Caretaker Committee, I was convinced that he overreached himself.
His actions raised issues of ethics in general and irregularity in particular with regard to an election, which his Committee was mandated to organize.
Within days of his inauguration as Chairman of the Caretaker Commitee, Dr. Okeke announced his plans for football in Anambra State. According to him:
- He acquired a grand duplex, to which the FA headquarters was moved with immediate effect.
- He purchased two buses, already branded with the insignia of the FA.
- He would revamp the moribund State League and various knockout tournaments,
- He would reinvigorate ‘grassroots football’.
- He would reactivate schools football.
- He would facilitate the training of coaches.
- He would invite foreign clubs to partner with the state, to which end, he introduced a group of men, who he claimed were representatives of the famous Juventus of Italy.
Most laudable as the above programmes were, they were incompatible with the terms of reference of a transitional body like the Caretaker Committee, which only had a three-month long mandate to conduct elections into a substantive FA.
At that point, it occurred to knowledgeable observers that Dr. Okeke intended fully to metamorphose into the substantive FA Chief Executive.
To that end, he was obviously working diligently to set a personalized electoral machinery in motion to facilitate the metamorphosis.
Consequently, the election, in which he clearly intended to be a candidate, was tainted in advance with irregularity if not fraud.
Shortly after, my initial suspicion of the intention of Dr. Okeke to transform himself into the substantive position was vindicated, when I learnt that he had resigned from the Committee in order to contest the election.
I was convinced that this was not only thoroughly unethical but that it dangerously approached the status of a fraud, since the Caretaker Chairman had, through the employment of material ingratiation and miscellaneous inducements, secured the placement of favourable delegates and of course ensured their loyalty to himself.
As a result of all the above. I was prompted to put myself forward for the position of Chairman. I was aware, from the knowledge I gathered through my years of ‘gallivanting’ in the Glass House, that the unethical conduct of Dr. Okeke made him a candidate for disqualification, as far as the election was concerned.
Due to the predictable and eventual disqualification of Dr. Okeke, I then became the sole and unopposed candidate for the Chairmanship election.
I was therefore bemused on election day, to witness the novel event where an unopposed candidate was subjected to the voting process and was subsequently declared loser!
It is a well-settled convention of electoral practice that an unopposed candidate in an uncontested election is not the subject of further vote but rather an automatic winner by DEFAULT. He cannot lose against a non-existent contestant neither can he contest against himself. Therefore he can never be a loser in that election but only a winner.
Since we are all members of the Football family, we can liken that situation with what obtains when one of the teams in a match fixture gets disqualified for any reason. Obviously the sole team on the field is the automatic winner by WALKOVER and no match is obliged to be played.
Ordinarily, the statutory rationale for determining the winner of the FA election is set out in the
ANSFA GUIDELINES FOR ELECTIONS INTO THE BOARD OF ANAMBRA STATE FA, specifically in Article E, which posits:
“Candidate shall be deemed to have won a particular position by securing a simple majority of the total number of valid votes cast”.
However, it is obvious that the provision envisions the situation where there are two opposing candidates or more and not where there is none.
Consequently, the question of an unopposed candidate, concerning which the provision is understandably silent, must then be resolved through the application of the normal universal convention of electoral practice.
I should observe that the delegates who opposed and unanimously voted against this unopposed candidate, are the same ones who Dr Okeke had initially influenced by inducements. The inducements included the purchase of forms for them and the wholesale acquisition of tax clearance certificates, which is a highly questionable act that arguably compromises the relevant branch of the Internal Revenue Service.
Having been beneficiaries of the considerable and unethical largesse of the disqualified candidate, the delegated understandably found themselves imprisoned by dubious loyalty.
They therefore expectedly cast those malicious and antagonistic but legally insignificant votes against me. Let me reiterate that those votes are irrelevant, inconsequential and immaterial.
As a result therefore, I have no doubt that the decision of the Electoral Committee should be overturned by the Appeals Committee so that some measure of integrity may be restored to the administration of the game in Anambra State.