youhe week that ended a few hours ago was undoubtedly bittersweet for sports lovers in Nigeria as two contrasting events inevitably produced a scenario that can best be described as pleasure mixed with pain and sadness.

The two events in focus occurred almost simultaneously on Thursday, September 15 in Abuja. Inside Aso Rock, Nigeria’s seat of power, President Muhammadu Buhari, despite his packed schedule and apparent apathy towards sports, played host to members of the Nigerian team at the 2022 World Championships in Athletics in Oregon, USA and the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.

An elated President Buhari showered the Nigerian team with the massive sum of N200m and national honors for 13 athletes who had won gold medals in the two world competitions.

While Nigerian athletics poster girls Tobi Amusan and Ese Brume and other gold medalists smiled home with the prestigious Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON) award plus a cash reward of N4.5m each, the Silver medalists received N2.5m while bronze medalists got N1.5m.

The windfall did not exclude the coaches of the medal-winning athletes as they each received N1.5 million, the athletes who did not win medals and their coaches went home with N600,000 as did all the officials. of accredited teams received N400,000 each for their contributions.

Considering the heroic deeds of athletes whom President Buhari aptly described as national heroes and heroines, it was money well spent. In fact, thanks to their superlative performances made possible by hard work and dedication to national service, the victorious athletes ensured that the Nigerian national anthem was played 13 times, once in Oregon and 12 times in Birmingham.

It should be recalled that at the World Championships in Athletics, Tobi Amusan stunned the world with his electrifying pace in the 100m hurdles event for Nigeria’s first gold medal in world athletics, after which Nigeria’s national anthem was played. played an unprecedented 12 times in Birmingham. during the Commonwealth Games.

As we continue to celebrate the victorious athletes who brought pure joy to millions of Nigerians, we must not forget to acknowledge the positive and invaluable contributions made by the Federal Government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development in ensuring that Team Nigeria was properly prepared for the international competitions.

Mention should be made here of Sports Minister Sunday Akin Dare’s Adopt An Athlete initiative, which has already seen at least 44 elite athletes adopted by three state governors, one lieutenant governor, some philanthropists and corporate entities.

Despite space limitations, it is imperative to mention that Governors Ifeanyi Okowa (Delta), Godwin Obaseki (Edo) and Dapo Abiodun (Ogun) are the three sports-loving governors who immediately joined the commendable initiative.

Others are Lieutenant Governor (Edo) Philip Shuaibu, Engineer Noah Dallaji of African Children Talent Discovery Foundation, Tunde Folawiyo, Halogen Group, Emmanuel Akpakwu (Dakinda), Nigeria Tulip International School, Sifax Group, Premium Trust Bank, Zenith Bank, Fidelity Bank and Access Bank.

When public-spirited individuals and corporate organizations respond to any calls for attention, they too should be celebrated. Thus, this is a modest way of appreciating the aforementioned for their immeasurable contributions to the success of the Nigerian team.

However, while the Nigerian team athletes and officials were still relishing their rewards at the Presidential Villa, devastating news about the suspension of the 2022 Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) Elective Congress came from a court of law in Abuja to roil the celebratory mood .

A Federal High Court in Abuja, presided over by Judge Inyang Ekwo, issued an order barring Sports Minister Sunday Dare and Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) President Amaju Melvin Pinnick from holding the elections. NFF executive meetings scheduled for September 30, 2022 in Benin City, Edo State.

Aggrieved football stakeholders Harrison Jalla, Rumson boss Victor Baribote, Austin Popo and the Nigerian National Association of Footballers (NANF), who are the first through fourth plaintiffs respectively, approached the court on September 2 seeking an interim restraining order on the defendants, in this case, the Ministry of Sports and the NFF, their agents, employees, staff, officials, or election committee to conduct the election to any executive office of the NFF pending the hearing and determination of the motion.

The plaintiffs who have had endless battles with the current NFF leadership are obviously unhappy with the undemocratic way the football federation is being set up, which is depriving most stakeholders of having a say or contributing to development. soccer in the country.

In view of the fact that Judge Ekwo has already adjourned the case until October 30, it will be virtually impossible for the long-awaited NFF elective congress on September 30 to go ahead as scheduled, if the court order is not rescinded.

In fact, this is another major setback for Nigerian football. Although the The latest impediment to football’s development may have come as a surprise to many, those of us who saw the writing on the wall and could read and understand can only say, we saw it coming.

What has happened is nothing more than a well-timed bomb that just went off on schedule. When the NFF leadership deliberately excluded critical stakeholders like the NANF from the last congress in Lagos, it became clear to discerning minds that Pinnick was hatching a plan hostile to Nigerian football. He was and is not committed to the 2022 NFF elections. The CAF and FIFA Executive Committee member desperately wants a third term. No one should delude himself that he has given up his ambition.

While those who rush to conventional courts of law to seek justice are not being supported, it goes without saying that depriving a key component of football such as the players’ union from participating in any election, let alone winning, is a Call for anarchy. . This is what’s coming up in Nigerian football right now.

I feel very sad for those true soccer fans who worked so hard trying to see the back of the maverick Pinnick, who is hell-bent on ending what’s left of Nigerian soccer.

But all hope is not lost. If those who are truly eager for the much-needed revival of Nigerian football are more tactical in dispelling the land mines planted by unrepentant adversaries, then football in Nigeria will survive the latest onslaught.