In a long expected and overdue move, the Nigerian Senate on Tuesday passed the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Bill 2017 after third reading. The passage followed a clause by clause consideration of the bill and a voice vote by the federal lawmakers.
The sponsor of the Bill, Senator Obinna Ogba, had presented the report of the Committee on Sports and Youth Development before the passage. While presenting the report, Ogba, explained that it had become important to repeal the extant law guiding activities of football in the country in view of controversies surrounding its implementation. He mentioned that there had been series of court cases relating to football and that the passage of the bill would bring such to rest as issues regarding the NFF would be tackled by the Court of Arbitration and not regular courts.
Justifying the move, Senator Ogba stated that “It has become necessary to repeal the Extant Act. This is because it requires a lot of amendments to bring it into agreement with FIFA’s required international best practices. It is to give the desired boost it requires.
“The Bill has no financial implication because it is only seeking for a change in the name of the football body in order to achieve greater and better results in future. “It seeks to ensure that only those who are actually involved in competitive football matches are members of the Federation and not just organisations and establishments as contained in the extant act.
“The bill also makes provision for the election of a President to lead the Executive Committee as against the existing law where the governing
body of the association is a board appointed from different organizations. “It further seeks to ensure mandatory systematic development of football through institutional, age and gender competitions. “Also, the bill makes provision for development of coaches and referees to enable them participate in international competitions,’’ he said. According to Ogba, the bill takes care of funding which has been a major problem in the country. He said unlike Nigeria, where the Federal Government was expected to fund football competitions and tournaments, countries like England, Spain, Italy governments were not involved in funding of football development.
He said that in these countries, football was developed and funded by club owners through the establishment of feeder teams and signing on of identified star players. “This country has not achieved that and this is one
of the objectives of the Federation. “The committee strongly believes that through this piece of legislation, the objectives as expressed in the long title of the bill and explanatory memorandum will be achieved,’’ Ogba said. He called on the House of Representatives to pass a similar bill to allow for concurrent and onward transmission to the Presidency for assent.
Senate President, Dr Bukola Saraki, commended the committee for a job well done. Saraki said, “the message here is for us to bring Nigeria in line with best practices and best ways to administer football in the country.
“This has been an embarrassment over the years, but with the passage of this bill, the grey areas will
be taken care of”.
The passage of this Bill heralds a new dawn for football administration in Nigeria. The contents and framework are consistent with what obtains in Europe. Things can only get better!