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Endless rot, decay in professional football league – Gara Gombe

By Gowon Akpodonor
08 September 2023   |   4:15 am
Former Chairman of Gombe State Football Association and now Chairman of the State Athletics Association, Ahmed Gara Gombe, has opened up on some of the rots in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).

Bala Akintunde of 3SC of Ibadan challenges Reuben Bala of Enugu Rangers during the NPFL/Dozi Mmobuosi Foundation pre-season championship. The kick-off date has been postponed for the third time this season

• Says Match Commissioners’ jobs now for miscreants

Former Chairman of Gombe State Football Association and now Chairman of the State Athletics Association, Ahmed Gara Gombe, has opened up on some of the rots in the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL).

The NPFL, which has GTI, as its major sponsor, has been under scrutiny in recent days, Champions League fixtures and results following a declaration by former Super Eagles captain, Austin Okocha, that he would rather watch the English Premier League than pay attention to the local league.

Okocha’s position was comprehended on Wednesday by former Green Eagles winger, Adegoke Adelabu, who stated that those handling Nigerian football, including the league and national teams, pay too much attention on gratification.

In the latest take on the matter, Gara Gombe, a former Special Adviser on Sports to Governor Rabiu Kwankwaso of Kano State alleged, yesterday, that some Nigerians have turned Match Commissioning job for NPFL matches into “a rehabilitation engagement, Champions League live streaming options job-for-the-boys and an IDP Camp, where people get some palliatives to overcome destitution.”

He said: “I have seen where someone who wants to give out his daughter in marriage, someone who wants to pay school fees for his children and someone who wants to pay his house rent, are given Match Commissioner appointment to take care of their problems. ZEbet now have the highest odds All these are happening in our League. People who support certain candidates and loyal to leaders of our Football are rewarded with Match Commissioner’s appointment,” he stated.

Speaking further, Gara Gombe, who also served as former chairman of Gombe United FC said: “Match Commissioners are integral and essential component of our football. Commissioning of matches is a job for certain categories of people, essentially people with sound pedigree in football administration or relevant fields. They include retired referees with proven integrity. Unfortunately, I have seen tailors, Secrets to winning motor mechanics, plumbers and even supermarket attendants as Match Commissioners. I know of a few who can’t speak English for 30 minutes non-stop or compose a two-paragraph story serving as Match Commissioners. The rot and decay are endless.”

According to him, the arrival of GTI into Nigerian football is a good omen.

“However, their various steps taken so far to ensure sound financial management and good governance should be supported by all well-meaning stakeholders for our football developmental processes. I still believe we need an independent body now to sanitise the system beyond funding since regulatory authorities have shown no boldness to take the bull by the horn and bring sanity to some of the problems, if not all other components of our Football,” he stated.

Gara Gombe also said; “I hope that GTI will not be frustrated like it was done to others before it. To add salt to all these injuries, the NFA asked States FAs to send names of Match Commissioner-nominees. What do you expect? Over 2.5 Some states are under the administration of Normalisation Committees. Some have issues arising from their elections.

“Take my state, Gombe, for instance, the most illegal and fraudulent elections ever was that of the Local football councils, and State FA board. After the charade, the chairman sent names of Match Commissioners from Gombe and removed some names of qualified people, who have been Match Commissioners for over five years.”

He replaced them with some of his bootlickers, some of them can’t write two paragraphs in English. After we cried foul, he hurriedly returned them, thanks to NFF President Ibrahim Gusau, who listened to the cry of Gombe people.

“What is the criteria of being a Match Commissioner? There is no standard anymore. When Dr Amos Adamu was sole administrator of NFA, Sani Toro, Salihu Abubakar and Linus Mba, at different times, interviewed me and gave me my first appointment in Ibadan as the youngest Match Commissioner in the history of Nigerian Football. I was just 28 years old then.

“Today, anybody can be a Match Commissioner. I was told that the current Match Commissioners Appointments Committee don’t even meet to appoint Match Commissioners. Someone does that, and no one dare challenge it. The NFA needs to wake up. We have only 38 matches in the NPFL, but we have more than 600 Match Commissioners. This is madness. The systemic decay, corrupt and sharp practice must be tackled. The rot is beyond what we are seeing,” Gara Gombe stated.

No official of the NPFL was ready to speak with The Guardian, on the issue. When contacted, the Secretary General of the NFF, Dr Mohammed Sanusi, said in a text message to The Guardian: “I am in Ghana.”