A ground breaking decision was reached over the weekend at the Nigerian National League (NNL) Congress in Abuja where it was decided that eight teams would be promoted from the NNL to the elite division, a decision expected to be ratified by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President Amaju Pinnick in the coming days.
Rumours and insinuations have abound in recent weeks over what the NNL had planned to do at the end of its mischievously long abridged league season – send two teams from each group instead of the normal group winners to the top flight to further complement the chaos occasioned by the selfish decision to end the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) abruptly after twenty-four round of matches.
The rumours became real at the weekend when the second division league rose at its congress to confirm the worst kept secret in recent times – eight teams to gain promotion to the NPFL while no team will relegate from the same division – even if they have not been bold to release an official communique after the said congress.
Last week, the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Executive Committee met in Asaba, Delta State and one major aspect of the communique released was the power the Executive gave President Pinnick to ratify unilaterally, on behalf of the Excos, whatever decision is reached by a soon-to-be-convened expanded meeting between the NNL and NPFL.
Here is the extract of the communique:
“Following a presentation by the Chairman of the Nigeria National League, Hon. Chidi Ofo Okenwa, and a response by Mallam Shehu Dikko to the effect that the issue of Relegation/Promotion between NNL and NPFL was a matter for the Clubs to propose, it was resolved that the NNL Board should be encouraged to hold a meeting with all NNL Clubs, after which an expanded meeting involving the NPFL and some NFF members (to be chaired by the NFF 1st Vice President) would take place, to determine the way forward for the promotion/relegation of teams in the NNL for the year. Board empowered the President to approve whatever propositions/decisions are reached at the expanded meeting for a way forward for the League.”
This communique seems Pilateous from the other executive members, to wash their hands off the impending chaos, thereby putting all the responsibility in Mr Pinnick’s fanciful pockets. Amaju Pinnick is undoubtedly the poster boy of Nigerian football administration and good it is that he is the head of the Federation, an emblem whose shoulder lies every good and bad that befalls the nation’s football.
The NNL have done their own part by agreeing to a selfish and myopic decision borne out of high level politicking which can only spell doom for the country’s football for the entirety of Mr Pinnick’s second term in office as the Federation’s President. These decisions also have the potential to outlast Pinnick’s reign if they are allowed to run its chaotic course.
Dear Pinnick, there were twenty teams in the NPFL when you came into power in 2014, I am not sure you really like your name to go down into the history books as the NFF President when relegation was abrogated from the top two divisions of the Nigerian league. Neither would you like to be known as the man that ratified the decision to have twenty-eight teams in a league whose clubs have largely failed to fend for themselves adequately.
Dear Pinnick, I’m very sure you are not gullible to agree with the proposal that twelve teams would relegate at the end of the season should the twenty-eight teams be allowed to compete. You know it is not possible. Where would the twelve teams go? Same NNL where four teams will join from the NLO too? This absolutely needs a technical analysis beyond the piety of club administrators.
Dear Pinnick, in arriving at this unfortunate decision, it was rumoured that you want your state to have a club in the NPFL in the coming season, hence Delta Force who finished second in their group must be promoted. I never believed it and I will not believe it because the Amaju Melvin Pinnick that I know is someone who has made so many unselfish decisions to uplift Nigerian football in recent times.
Dear Pinnick, your second tenure as President has started on a high. Qualification for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) for the first time since you became President over four years ago has been followed by a juicy, all encompassing kit manufacturing contract with NIKE. Will you allow the noxious politicking of Nigerian club administration leave an indelible stain on your shiny apron?
Dear Amaju Melvin Pinnick, the NPFL perhaps were wrong to end the league abruptly but you must not allow the NNL to leverage on that mistake. Two wrongs do not make a right. Mr President, there is no way we can hide or sugarcoat this: It will be absolutely foolish to allow eight teams to gain promotion to the NPFL. Such decision will not only impact the present but will lead to further chaos and set a bad precedent towards worse decisions to come.
That’s my letter for today, hopefully, I will call your attention to another issue next Monday.