By Mike Oboh
The re-election of Engr. Ibrahim Shehu Gusau as the President of Nigeria Athletics Federation in Birnin Kebbi, Kebbi State, North West Nigeria is a starting block for the emergence of a developing trend in the democratic changes expected of Africa countries.
South Sudan Athletics Federation President, General Samir Kharmis Lako who was in Kebbi for the 2021 Athletics Federation of Nigeria delegate elections, described the emergence of Gusau as a plus for Nigeria, saying, federations officials must work together to achieve the desired results in sports federations in their countries, noting that the re-election of Gusau was the beginning of the collective quest to give countries in Africa the model to follow to ensure only people with the hearts to develop the sports are allowed to administer them.
Gen Lako said that it was quite unfortunate that most cabals in the sports circle in their countries in the continent are always working to ensure the independence of the federations are short changes because of their selfish interest.
He said the decision of the delegates has not only began the lightening of the way for the success of the collective drive of the people to entrench democratic values to the elections of federation officials across the continent but they must always stand for the truth for the continent to push forward in the development of sports across the countries.
General Lako who is also the Mayor of Jubba, the South Sudan capital further said that the congress has the right to decide where it will conduct its election according to their constitution.
He said the continent will benefit from the desire to lay a new foundation for the development of athletics and will pursue it with vigor as it will not fold its hand to allow opportunist to take it over.
The South Sudan president also advised the congress members to always keep aside their differences when tackling problems the sport faces in their countries as this will help eliminate the vacuum always created by the job seekers.
He said the achievements of Gusau as president of AFN and the CAA Region 2, made up of the countries in West Africa zone has a telling effect on the best way sports can be administered to get the best results for the continent.
Gen Lako also said that the federation’s executives and the congress should work out a model that would be sustained to get the best results for their country.
He was also of the opinion that the divide and rule employed by sports ministries to cause confusion in sports administration should not be given a place to succeed as it is the root of the many crisis rocking sports federations in the continent.
He further said that the continent was at home with the way Gusau handled developments in the federation in the country hence they are proud to associate with him.
Also speaking, Nigeria former Minister for Sports and Youth Development, Barrister Solomon Dalung said he was happy that the federations were opting for what he introduced during his reign as this will go a long way to correct the anomalies always associated with elections into the federations.
Why congratulating Gusua, Dalung said it was a good idea that the federations are allowed to pick people who will serve them better than the government interfering on who should be on the board or not.
He said a situation where the government picks no fewer than seven members for each of the federation was not the best hence he opted for them to have a constitution approved by their congresses for the effective control of their activities.
“A situation where a referee in a game becomes the coach of one side of the team, substituting players and taking officiating decisions is not good for the game and anyone who does that in the appointment of federations’ board should be seen as a coup plotter and the boards should not allow that, such person should be seen as a coup plotter against democratic gains in federations’ elections and should be resisted.
“I will always stand for democratic principles and as a democratic person, I will always kick against such move, today I am happy with the conduct of this election and I congratulate the winners and the congress for standing by the truth,” Dalung said.
In the elections, Engr Ibrahim Shehu Gusau was re-elected President, he polled 20 votes while Uche Muoma got two votes from the 22 delegates present at the venue as he emerged the favoured candidate to lead the federation for the next four years.
For the 1st Vice President, North West Zonal Representative, Sunday Omotayo Adeleye got 15 votes, to emerge winner ahead of Solomon Abari who had 4 votes and Patrick Estate with 3 votes.
For the 2nd Vice President role, a seasoned sports journalist, Nneka Ikem Anibeze polled 13 points ahead of Esther Hindi Mallim who came close with 8 votes while Janet Wilson managed one vote.
Patrick Estate (South East), Dr Paul I Wakama (South South), Solomon Abari (North East) and Vitalis Lashimi North Central all emerged from their zones as representatives.
Other members of the board include Olu Sule who is a representative of the Technical Officials and Coaches alongside Moses Suleiman as Athletes Representative.
In his acceptance speech, Engr Gusau thanked the delegates for their support in making his first term a success while counting on their continued support for the next four years.
“This is really humbling. I will like to thank all the delegates for finding time to come to Kebbi in the face of intimidation.
“We call on everybody to join hands with us to build athletics because the 14 of us cannot do it alone.
He revealed that, “Very soon, we will be constituting Commissions to oversee the daily affairs of the federation while we have time to face other serious matters.”
Gusau thanked the World Athletics and the Confederation of African Athletics for their continued support as he hopes for stronger ties with the two bodies.