Gara Gombe Unleashes On Akinwunmi and Dikko, Declares Them Unfit To Lead Reform Committee (AUDIO)

Former Chairman of the Gombe State Football Association Ahmed Shuaib-Gara Gombe says that the Reform Committee instituted by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) “can’t achieve anything” under the leadership of Seyi Akinwunmi and Shehu Dikko because they are part of the “seventy or eighty per cent of people who created the same problems [the committee] are trying to reform”.  

The 24-member Reform Committee, which has NFF 1st vice-president Seyi Akinwunmi as its chairman and NFF 2nd vice-president Shehu Dikko as its vice-chairman, was constituted in order to provide far-reaching and lasting solutions to the challenges bedeviling football in the country.

But Gombe who announced his resignation from the committee in a letter dated 31 December 2018 and addressed to the President of the NFF Amaju Pinnick but which was only made public on Thursday 3 January now says the committee as presently constituted is not fit for purpose and must be dissolved and reconstituted with “people who are absolutely and entirely neutral” if the NFF really wants to reform.

Gombe had objected to the leadership, composition and processes adopted by the committee in his resignation letter and he told in an exclusive chat that it was unsuitable for Akinwunmi and Dikko who are both under investigation for corruption to lead a committee where they could be faced with issues of conflict of interests and that the processes adopted by the committee to reach decisions were inappropriate “because the rules themselves need reform”.

Gombe questioned why a “process or procedure that needs reform” should “be used in a process of performing a reform exercise”.

“[I objected to the leadership of the Reform Committee under Seyi Akinwunmi and Shehu Dikko] because there is no way you are going to have a successful deliberation to reform Nigerian football without talking on the league,” Gombe said.

“This is the Chairman of the league who virtually has destroyed the league completely, our league is more or less nonexistent how can he be the vice-chairman of the committee and then Seyi Akinwunmi is part of the NFF that needs reform, so the right thing to do is completely take these people away and appoint independent neutral people who are not currently holding or serving in any unit of Nigerian football to reform it then bring it for implementation.

“But you have the 1st and 2nd vice chairmen of the NFF in that committee and these two people are currently under investigation by various allegations of misappropriation and stealing of public property, they are under investigation by the Presidential Committee on the recovery of public properties how can they then lead a committee like this to reform?”

On the composition of the Reform Committee, Gombe faulted the inclusion of certain members singling out Taiwo Ogunjobi a former Secretary General of the NFF as an example of people who according to him, are responsible for the “rot” in Nigerian Football.

“When you populate the entire committee [with] seventy or eighty per cent of people who created the same problems you are trying to reform, you can’t achieve anything,” Gombe said.

“You have Seyi Akinwunmi, you have Shehu Dikko, you have five FA Chairmen who are members of the [NFF] congress and one of the main problems we have in Nigerian football are the congress.

“They are members of the congress which two of them were part of those who went to Anambra to go and conduct the elections which produced Ifeanyi Uba as FA chairman they were supposed to do elections 10 o’clock the following day, the previous night by eleven in the night they went to hotel and elected Ifeanyi Uba, how can such people come and sit in a reform committee to reform what?

“Some of them have been FA chairmen of their state for more than 12 years and they are not ready to leave and this people you think will come and reform Nigerian football.

“Now you brought somebody like Taiwo Ogunjobi who was a former secretary general of the NFF [and] this is somebody who was part of the rot you see in [the] Nigeria league.

“When he was secretary general, I served in a committee that proffered a blueprint for the sake of the Nigerian Premier League.

“He discountenanced that report and they started doing what they wanted and today that is why we have this distorted structure of our league if as at that time they accepted what was recommended we would have a good league.

“We said even If it is 8 or 6 teams that meet the requirement let us start let others join then the standard could have been followed but he didn’t, how can such person come and say he wants to come and reform, what is he coming to reform?

“Now all the Chairmen of the leagues are there and these are people who are illegally occupying their various positions. The statutes of the NFF says you must be elected, none of them was elected they were just appointed and you want them to come and reform if you say let them resign their positions and go and do elections would they accept it?

“So these are people that would definitely undermine any reform process because definitely it is going to affect them.”

 Having resigned his position on the committee, Gombe says for there to be meaningful reform of Nigerian football, the NFF must now dissolve the Reform committee and set up a new committee with a broader representation of the varied interests involved in Nigeria’s football value chain under an independent leadership.

“First and foremost let them [NFF] dissolve the committee, if they dissolve the committee let them reconstitute it,” Gombe told on what he believes would best serve Nigerian football.

“There are some people in [the present committee] like Felix Awogu and Yomi Idowu that can be useful in [a new committee]. Then go and bring somebody like Adokiye Amiesimaka to chair that committee then ask the Min of Justice of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to nominate a representative of the Minister or Attorney General of the Federation to serve in that committee.

“Now you can go and bring if you like a former chairman of sportswriters like Ikeddy Isiguzo or Bisi Lawrence or even Larry Izamoje for instance to represent the sports stakeholders.

“Now the Military, Colonel Olutoye for instance is the head of Armed Forces Sports just to get the stakeholders, then you go to the National Assembly and ask for somebody from the Sports Committee from the House of Representatives or the Senate to come and serve in the committee.

“You don’t need twenty something people [just] nine [or] ten people, lock them up in a room give them the procedure, give them the terms of reference and ask them to go and reform Nigerian football. If that can be composed then I will say we are now ready for reform”