By Chimezie Anaso,
On Oct. 29, stakeholders in the Anambra State Football Association (FA) will make a second attempt at elections that could mark a watershed in the history of the association in the space of three months.
The elections which will be supervised by the Caretaker Committee set up on Aug. 3 by the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) to bridge the leadership gap created by the Ifeanyi Ubah-led board which expired on the same date after statutory four years and three months of extension.
The electoral committee, initially headed by Jude Anayadufu, had conducted a virtual Local Football Councils (LFC) and state FA Board elections, which going by the silence of NFF on it and subsequent constitution of a Caretaker Committee looks jinxed.
It will be recalled that the election process which started on June 1, was suspended on July 25, by Anambra Government on the grounds that it violated the COVID-19 laws and protocols extant in the state at that time.
The committee, however held the elections via virtual means but the NFF was silent on it and its outcome. But instead, it set up a caretaker committee originally led by Emeka Okeke to hold sway for three months and organise elections following the expiration of Ubah-led board.
Okeke resigned his position two months into the tenure of the committee after a brilliant stint following which the Vice-Chairman, Victor Nwangwu, a long time secretary of the FA and veteran administrator took over as chairman of thee committee.
Following the resignation of Anayadufu, Rev. Fr Obinna Dike, a sports technocrat, who was the vice-chairman of the Electoral Committee was unanimously elected by members to assume the position of chairman.
After series of consultations between the caretaker committee and electoral committee, an official timetable for the elections was made public on Oct. 2, after the caretaker committee released a guidelines for the election on Oct. 1.
According to the guidelines signed by Nwangwu, chairman of the caretaker committee, the election will start with fresh electoral guidelines and participants in the 2019 Gov. Willie Obiano Community Shield will make up the list of LFCs delegates.
It says sale of nomination forms should be open for more stakeholders and the election process duration be abridged for the constraint of time and that all the elections must be held on or before Nov. 1.
“The electoral committee has the authority of the caretaker committee to the electoral process immediately,” it said.
Rev. Fr.Coach Obinna Dike
The Dike-led committee subsequently announced that sale and return of nomination forms will run from Oct. 2 to Oct. 12, and the list of nominees will be published on Oct. 13, while screening of nominees for LFCs will be done on Oct. 15 and Oct. 16 at Bishop Obiefuna Retreat Centre, Awka.
The nominees for the FA board election will be screened on Oct. 17 and the list of all successful candidates for the elections will be published on Oct. 19, while appeals and hearings if any will be entertained between Oct. 19 and Oct. 24.
According to the programme, all things being equal, elections and swearing-in ceremonies into LFCs and FA board are expected to hold on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30 respectively at the Bishop Obiefuna Retreat Centre, Awka at 9 a.m. each day.
With the timetable out, speculations on the possible renewal of the caretaker mandate for another three months or setting up of a normalisation committee has been put to rest, therefore every stakeholder should join the process or be shut out.
Speaking on the coming elections, the electoral committee chairman says the new process is not in any way a carryover of the previous process or connected to it in terms of nomination forms and delegates lists.
He says anybody who wished to be part of the election, including those who participated in the immediate past one should purchase new nomination form to be eligible to participate.
He noted that all who participated in the 2019 Obiano Community Shield should form part of those who would elect the 3-man LFC executives from where the chairmen that would form delegates of the board election would emerge.
Dike said activities had shifted to the councils already as more people had become interested in the process, while assuring that his committee would organise an open, all inclusive and transparent elections.
Mike Umeh, a former chairman of the FA board in his contribution called on stakeholders in the process to play by the rules as the state could not afford to get it wrong the second time.
Umeh, who was a former Vice-President of NFF, said there was much to do in terms of repositioning football in Anambra and warned against actions that would subvert the wish of the Anambra football community.
“I hope it will be an open contest, people should play by the rules and I call on the electoral committee to insist on doing the right thing.
“Many things have gone wrong in Anambra football, we have no facilities, no clubs because government is not interested, so, we need a new lease of life.
“I am confident that those involved, including Nwangwu will do a good job, though I am not on ground to assess the electoral committee; I am sure that they will give Anambra football community an election that will reflect the minds of the people,” he said.
On his part, Odi Ikpeazu, a veteran football administrator, said the explicit nature of election guidelines and precision of the timetable table issued by the electoral committee was an indication that it was willing to conduct a transparent election.
Ikpeazu said the caretaker committee had succeeded in awakening the consciousness of the people and set a standard for football administration in Anambra which the next set LFCs and board should uphold.
He said though activities are not as boisterous as during festivals, the build up to election in the council is at high pitch because those who should be involved were working to achieve an expected outcome.
“Activities are going on, people who should be part of it have demonstrated enough interest and they are working ahead of the election, this is unlike before.
“I hope it will be free, fair and civil, all we need is a leadership that will do things the right way. Anybody can win even the former people can come provided they can sustain the current tempo, for me, I am not running for anything,” he said.
With the level of interests so far shown by football enthusiasts from within and outside the state, the Oct. 29 and Oct. 30 election will go down as one of the most participatory FA elections in Anambra apart from the botched Aug. 2 elections.
This is a departure from the past when a strong clique used to nominate themselves, share forms to themselves and elect themselves before the clash of interest that opened the way to Ubah in 2016.
Opinion molders are of the view that the primary interest of those going into the election should not be limited to producing a preferred chairman but dismantling the cabal that have dominated the FA for a long time.
They want those eligible to participate and ensure that all sections of the game, including club owners, players union, the media, national league and referees are fairly represented at all level in order to check undue dominance of any particular group. (NANFeatures)