Once again, the sports fraternity in Nigeria is sharply divided over engineer Habu Gumel, who is the incumbent president of the Nigerian Olympic Committee (NOC). He wants a fifth term in office but is vehemently opposed by some stakeholders in the sport, while some are hell-bent on giving him another four years to chair the NOC.
Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on where you belong, when the 2022 NOC Election Committee released the names of the applicants who had met the December 6 deadline to submit nomination forms for the December 15 Jalingo election, Taraba state, Gumel’s name featured prominently. In fact, she was listed before other contenders such as former sports minister, Tennis Federation engineer Sani Ndanusa and the Hon. Ibrahim Gusuau of the Athletics Federation.
So, according to the electoral committee statement, if final approval is granted, the trio of Gumel, Ndanusa and Gusau would compete for the position of NOC president next week at the elective congress in Jalingo. Although neither challenger is very popular among Nigerian sports stakeholders, there is no doubt that Gumel is the one who has come under the fiercest criticism for seeking another term.
As it is, the Jigawa-born sports administrator and former director of sports facilities at the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development should be ready to fight as many battles if he wants to realize his current political ambition. The last time he faced a similar challenge was in 2010, when the then sports minister, engineer Ndanusa, forced him to resign. Gumel served for eight years, from 2002 to 2010, as NOC President.
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It will be recalled that in 2010, Ndanusa, who was serving as sports minister, as if driven by greed, declared his ambition to succeed his professional colleague as NOC president. However, Gumel, who had tasted power and money for eight years, was not ready to go. It turned into a serious fight as the two sports administrators tried to outdo each other. In the course of the fighting, Ndanusa, who for eight years was Gumel’s second-in-command in the NOC, was accused of using the state apparatus to realize his ambition, just as Gumel was also said to have used the NOC executive to push Ndanusa aside. to contest the elections.
However, it was Ndanusa who triumphed in the end by successfully using the instrument of the government to oust Gumel. How he achieved victory over his rival is a long story for another day. So, for short, from 2010 to 2014, Gumel lost his most prized position, but recovered after four years when he was elected to his third term in 2014. His current term, which began in 2018, is his fourth and will finish. at the elective congress on December 15 in Jalingo.
Interestingly, the same man who interrupted his reign as NOC president is back to fight for the juicy position. As was the case with the first clash between the two gladiators, camps based on personal interests have sprung up ever since. But it is really difficult to understand exactly what these two gentlemen who should honorably take up advisory roles in Nigerian sports are after. As a former sports minister and NOC president, how come Ndanusa again to offer sports that he did not do when he was given the opportunity all those years ago?
The same goes for Gumel, who has been around for so long that no one remembers that he was once the General Manager at Bauchi State Cooperatives Building Association Limited; Director of Engineering, Bauchi State Agricultural Development Program; Deputy General Manager of the Federal Housing Authority; Executive Director of Operations of the Federal Housing Authority; President of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE); Chairman of the Council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) and most recently Executive Secretary of the National Lottery Trust Fund.
In fact, Gumel, who is also a member of the Nigerian Academy of Engineering, is someone who is passionate about sports, especially volleyball, but there should be time for leaders to take the opportunity for their subordinates to show what they have learned with them. . Or is there no retirement age in sports administration? It’s becoming a case of until death do us part.
It is therefore unfortunate that some of the young and energetic stakeholders who are willing to give their lives for Gumel to continue as NOC President have the ability to succeed him and even excel in the same position he has held for 16 years. Instead of advising ‘our top colleague’ to give them a chance to take advantage of his legacy, right now they’re reminding everyone that there’s no limit on NOC tenure.
The implication of this nasty gospel is that the NOC’s bylaws allow Gumel to become president for life, if he so chooses. And this is where some of us feel the problem lies. Even when the law allows having as many terms as possible, common sense must prevail, which is not so common. Leaders should not perpetuate themselves in office in the name of serving the country.
To tell the truth, most of the time, those who impose themselves on others only seek power and control of resources. This is not to suggest that both Gumel and Ndanusa, who have presided over Nigerian sports for decades, are only out for self-interest. However, if they are not careful, it will soon be difficult to exonerate them from selfishness.
It is on this note that I bravely ask again, what exactly is the duo of Gumel and Ndanusa looking for as NOC president? Haven’t his ‘disciples’ come of age? We sure need a breath of fresh air in Nigerian sports.