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    Sunday, May 14, 2017

    House Of Reps Under Fire Over Move To Stop Federation Elections


    Members of the House of Representatives have come under fire from key stakeholders for calling for a reversal of the decisions of the sports minister ahead of June’s federation elections, reports ’TANA AIYEJINA...

    Nigerians have condemned the House of Representatives stand over the dissolution of the National Sports Federations by sports minister Solomon Dalung.

    Dalung, who announced the dissolution of the federations’ boards on May 5, directed all secretaries to take charge of their various federations ahead of the election, scheduled for June 13.

    The minister also amended the guidelines for elections, which now allowed federation presidents, who had served two terms of four years each, to vie for a final term in office at the forthcoming elections, as against the earlier decision barring them from contesting for another tenure in office after two terms at the helm.

    He then constituted a seven-man electoral appeals committee to decide on all appeals and petitions arising from the elections.

    The committee is headed by the Acting Permanent Secretary of the sports ministry AbdulRazak Salau. Other members are Aminu Idris, Col Maharaja Mahmoud (retd.) Tunde Kazeem, Emmanuel Zira and Mrs. Carol Ojukwu, who serves as secretary.

    “We reviewed some provisions of the guidelines and we agreed that there was need for us to reach a consensus. We decided to make amendments to some of the guidelines after wide consultations with the stakeholders in the industry to conform to the International Olympic Committee charter and International best practices,” the minister said.

    “In our resolve to produce a democratically elected National Federations, we met with the stakeholders to revisit and fine tune the guidelines. We have also put in place a check mechanism as the congress will now elect the Presidents. We gave them that grace of a last chance to contest for three terms and that will be final.”

    Dalung’s move to dissolve the boards, which has been widely applauded by stakeholders, is seen as giving a level playing field for contestants, as incumbent federation presidents won’t have unfair advantage over their opponents during the elections.

    But the House on Thursday condemned the minister’s action and requested him to postpone the forthcoming elections as well as recall members of the dissolved boards.

    A member of the House, Ayodeji Joseph, from Ondo State, moved the motion calling for the postponement of the elections and reinstatement of all the federations’ board members. But he however erred when he stated that the guidelines restricted presidents who had served two tenures from contesting during the elections.

    The amended guidelines states clearly that federation bosses who had served two terms could contest for another term at the elections.

    Joseph stated, “My Motion is on the call on the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports to postpone the planned elections into the National Sports Federations and recall members of the boards that were dissolved. The House notes that the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports recently dissolved the boards of the various National Sports Federations and issued guidelines for elections into the federations.

    “Also, note that the guidelines provide that prospective candidates, who have spent two terms of four years each will not be eligible to contest into the sports federations. (Be) aware that each federation derives its powers from its constitution and is autonomous. And any attempt to tamper with the constitution without due process or by fiat is unlawful.

    “Also, (be) aware that the national federations are part of the Olympic Movement, which has its own code and governance ethics and the supreme instrument is the Olympic charter.”

    “The house resolves to call on the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports to postpone the planned elections into the boards of the National Sports Federations and recall all members of the various sports federation that were dissolved and mandate the Committee on Sports to investigate the role of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports in interfering and issuing the guidelines for elections into the federations and report within three weeks.

    In an online forum, another House of Reps member, Ayo Omidiran, said the sports ministry would also be investigated over federations’ finances in 2016.

    She wrote, “In addition (to Joseph’s motion), the House also mandated the sports committee to investigate the non-payment of federations’ money allocated to them in the 2016 budget, by the ministry and submit its report within two weeks…Nigerians deserve to know how our sports ministry is run and this committee will do the right thing no matter whose ox is gored.”

    However, major players in the sports industry see the House’s move as amounting to overreaching its powers.

    “The House has no powers to overturn an executive action, which is what the minister’s action is. The House can exercise an oversight function by inviting the minister to the house and questioning him on the issue but not to out rightly say it has overturned his decision behind his back. This brings the law into disrepute,” Col Sam Ahmedu (retd.), a top basketball stakeholder, said.

    Another major stakeholder in the sports sector said, “The House cannot overturn the decision by an executive arm of government. It’s clearly in violation of separation of powers. The House can only exercise oversight functions by inviting the minister to explain himself and nothing more.”

    Sports journalist Olajide Fashikun slammed the House for moving a motion for an issue that was not under their “oversight functions.”

    “I think the House of Reps (members) don’t understand their work schedule. How do the federations’ elections concern them or fall under their oversight functions? They have a misconception of the size and depth of their powers,” he stated.

    A member of the elections’ appeal committee, Emmanuel Zira, said the dissolution was the right step for sports development in Nigeria. He urged the presidents to test their popularity on a level playing field.

    He said, “It’s (House stand) a very dangerous move and it’s not going to work out. Does the IOC president stay beyond his stipulated tenure? I think the minister is in the right direction. The House is being partisan, that is the truth.

    “Dalung took a brilliant step by dissolving the associations to create for a level playing ground for all the contestants. It is on records that some presidents are abusing their powers by trying to suspend their rivals with impunity for no reason, even when they know that their tenure has elapsed. If any President or member thinks he is popular, he should go and test his popularity without manipulations.”

    Speaking further, Zira alleged that some members of the House were being influenced by some sit-tight federation bosses in order to perpetrate themselves further in office.

    “We reliably gathered that the House was deceived into this action by some federation presidents who feel that this level playing ground created by the minister will knock them out silly because they are no longer wanted by the people they want to preside over.

    “Those behind this are some of the presidents that have spent over eight years. They just want to remain as presidents for life, attend global competitions, collect huge estacode and sleep in five-star hotels at the expense of the athletes, who stay in shanties.”

    If the federations were not dissolved, the presidents had the mandate to appoint an electoral committee to oragnise the elections, which stakeholders believe will give the incumbent presidents advantage over their opponents.

    “How can a federation president, who has finished his tenure, remain in office and will be the one to appoint an electoral committee that will conduct an election in which he or she is a candidate or has an interest? This is contrary to law and good conscience as there is the likelihood of bias,” Ahmedu added.

    Those against the dissolution of the boards have insisted that the minister’s move was against the Olympic charter. However, findings from our correspondent show that the Olympic charter did not state how federation elections should be conducted.

    Zira stated that it was the norm for federations to be dissolved after the Olympics to allow for a free and fair election afterwards.

    “Is Dalung the first minister to dissolve the federations at the expiration of their tenures? It has been the standing practice for associations to stand dissolved as soon as the Olympic Games are over. The tenure is usually from one Olympic Games to the other. When did the Olympic Games end? I have never heard of IOC interference in the domestic election arrangements of any country in my over 30 years involvement in sports, so which IOC articles are they quoting?”

    Also, Ahmedu added, “Where was Olympic Charter when federations were dissolved in 1997, 2001 and 2009. In 2013 they were not dissolved but that was at the discretion of the sports ministry/National Sports Commission, which conducted the elections for all federations except the Nigeria Football Federation for obvious reasons. Let no one fool us with a mention of the Olympic charter.”
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    Item Reviewed: House Of Reps Under Fire Over Move To Stop Federation Elections Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Olaniyan Tosin
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