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Stakeholders clamour for change as NOC elections hold December 15

By Christian Okpara
28 November 2022   |   4:02 am
Some stakeholders in the country’s sports have started a campaign for a new leadership for the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), which general elections will hold on December 15 in Jalingo, Taraba State.

NOC President, Habu Ahmed Gumel

Some stakeholders in the country’s sports have started a campaign for a new leadership for the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), which general elections will hold on December 15 in Jalingo, Taraba State.

Incumbent NOC President, Habu Gumel, is the longest serving head of the Olympic body, which responsibility is to partly supervise the country’s sports federations and is fully responsible for the coordination of Nigerian competitors at the Olympic, Commonwealth Games and the All Africa Games.

Following what some of the stakeholders, including federations’ presidents described as the comatose state of the NOC, interested parties have started a campaign, which they said would regenerate the NOC to become more effective.

The guidelines for the elections have been released and the document underlines the intention to conduct a free, fair and credible elections.

However, the stakeholders are worried that the ballot process may not usher in new executives, who would redirect the affairs of the Committee.

Assessing the performance of the incumbent executive, the stakeholders, who pleaded anonymity, said, “Gumel has a long history in Nigeria’s sports administration that dates back to 1988 when he first became the chairman of the Nigeria Volleyball Federation.

“From there, he made his way to the Africa Volleyball Confederation and the International Volleyball federation, but made very insignificant impact on the sport in Nigeria and Africa. Gumel joined the Nigeria Olympic Committee in 1997, and like he did with Volleyball, gradually crawled his way to emerging president of the Nigerian Olympic body for two docile tenures from 2002 to 2010. He returned as president again in 2014 and still runs the affairs of the Olympic Committee till date.

“There are indications Gumel is seeking re-election for a third consecutive term in office and fifth term overall, but an assessment of his last eight years in office does not suggest that picking a form for the forthcoming election is a wise idea by the 74-year-old indigene of Jigawa State.

Arguing that Gumel’s leadership of the NOC has eroded the gains Nigeria’s sports made in recent past, the stakeholders said under his watch, “Nigeria lost its Congress membership with the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the mother of all Olympic Committees across the world.”

They also alleged that Gumel attained “membership of the IOC in 2009 and became ineligible to continue after clocking 70-years-old on April 1, 2019.”

According to the stakeholders, rule 16.3.3.1 of the Olympics Charter states: “any IOC member ceases to be a member at the end of the calendar year during which he reaches the age of 70. Hence Gumel has no voting rights at the IOC and as NOC president, he cannot influence anything in favour of Nigeria except attending congresses.

“As NOC president for many years and a member of the IOC for more than 10 years, Gumel should have nominated Nigerian athletes, Olympians and other Nigerians into elective offices for athlete’s commission, other commissions and committees on the international stage, but he failed to advance the cause of any other Nigerian towards getting IOC membership.

“Gumel has been an epitome of incompetence and under his leadership, the core duties of the NOC have been conceded to the Ministry of Sports.”

The stakeholders also accuse Gumel of planning to engage the services of a marketer, who will be saddled with the responsibility of raising funds for the NOC. “This was done without notifying other board members.

While the vast majority of Nigerians are clamouring for a new dispensation in the administration of the country, the Nigerian sports sector, which has regrettably suffered from maladministration over the years, cannot be isolated.

“Nigeria’s absence at the ongoing FIFA World Cup is only one of many major setbacks the country is dealing with in sports and it is imperative that she gets it right with an important committee as the NOC, especially when the opportunity to change a bad leadership presents itself.”