Nigeria Football Federation 2nd vice-president Shehu Dikko has accused former sports minister Solomon Dalung of “giving the NFF a bad name to hang it” during his tenure as minister.
The NFF suffered a barrage of petitions and had to endure a deluge of corruption investigations and court summons in Dalung’s time at the helm of Nigerian sports.
But Shehu Dikko said most of the petitions against the NFF were instigated by people who “lost out politically” in the federation and were looking to take charge of Nigerian football governing body through the backdoor.
The NFF 2nd vice-president made the statements when he appeared on Channels Television’s Sports Tonight which aired on Friday night.
The NFF’s reputation – never the most sparkling at the best of times – has taken an intense battering recently owing to various allegations, petitions and corruption investigations against it over the past five years.
At one point, the federation was battling corruption and embezzlement charges in several courts from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) and the now defunct Special Presidential Investigation Panel for the Recovery of Public Property (SPIP).
The attendant negative press and the reactive posture of the NFF painted a picture in the minds of many Nigerians of a football body neck-deep in corrupt practices.
However, an Abuja high court struck out most of the corruption charges against the NFF last year and more recently, another refused to join the top hierarchy of the federation to an EFCC case about the misappropriation of $8.4 million FIFA intervention funds.
Despite these victories, a perception persists that the NFF under Amaju Pinnick remains less than clean.
Dikko, however, contends that the present NFF “has been over transparent” pointing to their practice of publishing their audited accounts as proof of their probity.
“NFF has been very, very transparent,” Dikko told the show’s host Austin Okon-Akpan. “How many agencies in Nigeria publish their audited results? NFF does that. How many federations in Nigeria have hired a company like PwC for example [to audit their accounts]?
“In fact, this NFF has been over transparent because everything we’ve done [NFF president] Amaju [Pinnick] ensures it is in the public or the worst-case scenario, ensures that information is sent to the government through the minister to say ‘see what we are doing’.”
Former sports minister Solomon Dalung was often at loggerheads with the leadership of the NFF and often led from the front in accusing the NFF of corruption.
But Dikko said the federation had always been above board in its dealings with Dalung and made it a point of duty to communicate their activities clearly with the former sports minister.
“Even the last regime [with former sports minister Solomon Dalung], any money that comes from the NFF whether from sponsors or government, [Pinnick] ensures that a letter is sent to the minister informing him that this money has come,” Dikko added.
Dikko said most of the petitioners had a political axe to grind with the NFF and suggested their petitions betrayed had an unhealthy obsession with scrutinising private sources of NFF funding.
The NFF 2nd vice-president wondered how people with no knowledge of the NFF’s sponsorship deals could tell that “money is missing”.
Shehu Dikko suggested that the NFF isn’t obligated to provide details of sponsorship deals to any “third-party”.
“One person will wake up and write petitions to all the agencies in Nigeria and if you look at the petitioners, for example, are normally people that lost out politically in the NFF they are just trying to instigate the agencies.
“Have you ever heard any [petition against the NFF] about government money? Everything is about sponsors money, FIFA money, money that we got from the sponsors!
“I went to negotiate with the sponsors, brought the money and then somebody will say that the money is missing.
“If I sign a contract with a sponsor, it’s a contract between NFF and a sponsor that has terms and conditions that have rights and obligations for each party, that have terms if somebody breaches this is what we should do, then a third party isn’t involved with the contract has no business with it. Only the parties to the contract can petition it.”
Dikko was reminded by the show’s host Okon-Akpan that Dalung also accused the NFF of misappropriating N1.6bn approved by the federal government for the Super Eagles’ participation at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
“How can he say that?” Dikko replied.
“[The NFF] gave him the breakdown [of how the money was spent]. All those ones are political talk he knows how much was approved, he knows how much was spent. All those are premeditated talks to give NFF a bad name to hang it,” Dikko added.