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NFF And FIFA's Dollar Rain

Tuesday was red letter day in the Nigeria Football confraternity. On Tuesday, the Nigeria Football Federation rose from a video conference meeting confirming that, at last, FIFA's Covid-19 palliative was ready to be distributed to the football community, across the board. It came in the form of a communique issued by the Federation. The interesting part stated "...After consultations with the leadership of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, the Board endorsed the proposal from the Secretariat for the lump sum of $2,000,000.00 (Two Million American Dollar Only) to be shared across the various clubs and governing bodies of the various Leagues, viz Nigeria Professional Football League, Nigeria National League, Nigeria Women Football League and the Nigeria Nationwide League, as a booster for their preparation ahead of the 2020/2021 League Season. The total sum is made up of $1,000,000 (being FIFA's support for restarting the football season); $500,0000 (being FIFA's dedicated support for women's football); $300,000 (CAF's support to its Member Associations); $200,000 (NFF's support from Sponsors' Funds)." Attached was a comprehensive table showing who was to earn what, all in dollars. No sooner had the news hit the airwaves than calculators flew out. For instance, Nigeria Professional Football clubs have been penciled to receive $15,000,000 each. Depending on your calculation, it translates to not more than N6,000,000.00 Back to this, later. The president of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, Mr Sirawoo, quickly issued a press release applauding the Nigeria Football Federation "on the transparent manner it disbursed the Covid-19 palliative package from FIFA, CAF and other sponsors. Sirawoo who expressed delight in the N11,580,000.00 that was earmarked for SWAN (don't ask me the rate used), said the NFF was meticulous in ensuring that all the stakeholders in Nigeria football were duly captured. "He further noted that the gesture will in no small way enhance the cordial working relationship between the NFF and other stakeholders, especially SWAN, even as he urged all beneficiaries to make judicious use of the grant..." The SWAN president who incidentally is the permanent secretary in the Rivers State Ministry of Youth and Sports, went ahead to say that he will ensure that all the members of the association in its 37 state chapters were given their due from the amount," the release was signed by his secretary general, Jude Opara.

Wait a minute. Another release entitled "SWAN President Aigbona lauds NFF's Sincerity over planned disbursement of palliatives to all stakeholders," has surfaced. Yes, the Comrade Ahmed Aigbona-led faction of SWAN has also written, thanking the NFF "...for considering SWAN and other stakeholders in its recent funds distribution." Signed by secretary general, Comrade Mike Oboh, this SWAN thanked "...the sponsors, partners, CAF and FIFA and NFF for this gesture. We are assuring NFF of our total commitment towards ensuring that the $30,000 allocated to SWAN will be disbursed accordingly among members across the chapters in the 36 states of the federation and the FCT." Don't laugh. Over to the NFF. We can understand the speed with which the SWAN drama has blown open. Other benefactors are not far from the same theatrics, especially when allocations are made to groups. Incidentally, what is playing out with SWAN is most likely to surface as NFF decides how to disburse the $25,000 meant for supporters club. Which of them? The referees, for instance, benefit $60,000,000 for development, while $20,000,000 goes to the Nigeria Referees Association (NRA). Referees hard hit by the novel Covid-19 pandemic due to the suspension of football matches are waiting anxiously for words on how the $20,000 will be disbursed. Barring any negative circumstance, this maybe the best thing to have happened to the fund starved Nigeria football community in years. If judiciously handled, the women football clubs, always hard hit despite the muscular efforts of Aisha Falode, can afford some sighs of relief. Clubs in the National League can do a lot with the $10,000,000 that has been allotted them, especially the privately owned ones. State FA's can use $5,000, ditto Coaches Association $20,000,000, coaches development $30,000,000, Players union for operations...etc. Can we say the same of the Professional League sides? Far from it. Perhaps, here also, the two privately owned clubs may have cause to smile, but definitely not the others. The monthly wage bill of clubs like Akwa United, Enyimba International, Rangers International, Kano Pillars, Rivers United, Plateau United are in the excess of N15,000,000. For one match away, hotel accommodation, transportation, medicals, bonuses, these clubs spend at least N1,500,000. So, what does N6,000,000.00 do to these clubs? Nothing, absolutely nothing. Paraphrase an English adage and it says one eight of a bread is better than none. See you next week, by His grace.

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