With less than two hundred hours which is equivalent to seven days before the Nigeria Football Federation’s elective congress scheduled for Benin City, Edo State, South-South Nigeria, one of the promising candidates seeking to become an Executive Board Member representing the North-Central Zone in the Federation, Alhaji Alkali Mohammed (Sarkin Kasuwan Lafia) has let the cat out of the bag as to why he is vying for the position.
In an exclusive interview with President of the Nigeria Professional Football League Media Officers’ Forum, Eche Amos, at his office in Lafia, the Chairman of the Nasarawa State Football Association said the determination to be a part of the critical decision makers of the NFF where he could expand his wealth of experience beyond grassroots football informed his decision.
Read him: “I have contributed so much to grassroots football and talent development in Nasarawa State and Nigeria.
“As Chairman of the Nasarawa State Football Association, my achievements are visible for all to see. My leadership initiated the Nasarawa State Football Association Premier League with 34 local affiliated teams across the State participating.
“Our local Coaches are being exposed to modern rudiments of the game just as we encourage the hosting of different grassroots football competitions for talent discovery.
“Also, we have two teams plying their trade in the Amateur Division 1, three teams in the Division 2 and seven teams in the Division 3, respectively.
“Today, Nasarawa State is one of the few States in Nigeria with clubs playing in all tiers of the leagues, ranging from the Nigeria Professional Football League(NPFL), Nigeria Women’s Football League Premiership(NWFL), Nigeria National League(NNL), and the Nationwide League One(NLO).
This is possible because the local FA has a strong and consistent symbiotic and working relationship with the Nasarawa State Government for sports, especially football, to thrive.
“This is even more evident as Nasarawa is among a handful of States in Nigeria with two clubs playing simultaneously in the elite domestic leagues(men and women), that’s Nasarawa United FC and Nasarawa Amazons FC, and both of them are doing very well.”
Alkali who is also the Independent Chairman, Nationwide League One, equally spoke about how he brought sanity to the league that has four hundred and twenty clubs in its fold.
“Before assuming office as NLO Chairman, a club would win a match, let’s say, in Lafia, but the losing side would be given the points upon getting to Abuja because the losing side had a ‘godfather’ or someone who could manipulate the result for them.
“The same cannot be said today as match results are transmitted from the match venue and made available to our data bank and uploaded into the internet for everyone to see. By so doing, you can’t manipulate or temper with the outcome of any match.
“Our(NLO) marketing strategy has made it possible for the league to be on different Betting Sites around the globe, most especially in Asia where bettors predict outcome of matches and get rewarded.
“While we are working on getting our matches transmitted live on television, the NLO is operating on a FIFA-approved requirements, like in the area of account opening by Clubs.
“Usually, the owner of a club would use his personal bank account to run activities of the club, but we have changed all of that as a club must have a bank account opened in the Club’s name before enjoying any football-related benefits, whether from the local FA, NFF, CAF or even FIFA.
“By October, next month, the NLO will commission state-of-the-art media gadgets in Lagos that will enable us project our activities well to the global audience.
“Suffice to say that ever since I was appointed as Chairman of the NLO, none of our decisions or verdicts as a Board on clubs has been overturned by the Ordinary and Disciplinary Committee or even the Appeals Committee. Our decisions are binding without any form of consultations.
“And this is because we follow the rules book and respect the club owners, knowing full well that 92 per cent of the NLO Clubs are owned by private individuals.
“In fact, the league is run like a community enterprise where everyone is a key stakeholder and carried along, irrespective of his status.”
The NLO Chairman added that, though he has spent six years in that position, newer knowledge he has acquired about football and the desire to broaden his horizon as well as contribute more to the growth and development of football in Nigeria were among the major reasons he is eyeing the position of an Executive Board Member of the NFF.
“Yes, it’s because of my gigantic achievements in grassroots football that the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF Board appointed me as Chairman of the NLO.
“It’s through those impactful contributions that Nasarawa is regarded as a football State in Nigeria today.
“But I have also acquired some valuable knowledge about football and its development beyond the grassroots level. I want to bring more football development to my Zone.
“So, it’s not about contesting but what one is bringing to the table to change the narrative.
“I want to serve my State, my Zone and my Country in a higher and bigger capacity for the good of our country’s football.”
A member of different Sub-Committees of the NFF, Alkali Mohammed, acknowledged those who continue to galvanise support for his emergence at the September 30 poll.
“I feel very elated and overwhelmed with the kind of support I am enjoying from stakeholders, especially from my State Government under the leadership of Governor Abdullahi Sule; the Nasarawa State Ministry of Youth and Sports Development headed by Amb. Lucky Isaac Yargwa; Nasarawa United FC chaired by my elder brother, Chief Barr. Isaac Danladi; the people of the State, and many others too numerous to mention here.
“Their endorsement is an indication that I possess the wherewithal to deliver on the mandate, and I wish to assure them that I will not disappoint them once I emerge winner.”
Contestants vying into the Executive Board of the NFF are elected by national delegates to become key decision makers of Nigerian football.