Two ex-Eagles’ players, Fuludu, Ikpeba ‘fight’ for soul of Delta football
A member of the Tunisia ’94 Super Eagles winning team, Edema Fuludu is at ‘war’ with another ex-international and member of the Atlanta ’96 Olympics soccer gold medalist, Victor Ikpeba in the race for the chairmanship of Delta Football Association.
The duo is battling to replace former Super Eagles captain, Austin Jay Jay Okocha, who resigned midway into his administration.
Fuludu, who has been on acting capacity since Okocha left, feels he has what it takes to develop Delta State football. Ikpeba, on the other hand, feels he is the right man for the job, having served as a member of the State FA for some years now.
However, some stakeholders believe that the position of Delta FA chairman should be given to someone who is resident in the state since the era of ‘Okocha calling the shot from Lagos’ did not take Delta football anywhere.
Fuludu resides in Warri, while Ikpeba is based in Lagos. Some of the stakeholders don’t want a repeat of the ‘Okocha experiment,’ and so, have decided to pitch their tent with Fuludu in the race for the Delta FA chairmanship.
But Fuludu seems not to be enjoying the support of some bigwigs, including some top shots in Delta Sports Commission.
A board member, who pleaded anonymity, says Fuludu is not the FA chairman they want. Some of the board members are accusing Fuludu of mismanaging funds when he acted as chairman of the FA on behalf of Okocha.
Fuludu, who said he was being accused wrongly, claimed that his administration did everything possible to keep the association going even without support from any quarter. “With all honesty, Jay Jay spent his own cash on the two FA cup competitions in the two years he functioned,” Fuludu told The Guardian yesterday. “Nobody brought, assisted or sourced for funds for the FA. Jay Jay never asked or created committees. When I started acting, I did a yeoman job sourcing for funds to execute the FA Cup competition as did Jay Jay for 2017, but unlike him, I called a meeting immediately after because I needed all hands on deck and set up committees. Victor Ikpeba was chairman of the Marketing committee. Did the committees perform? Did members source for funds, who assisted the FA? That will be in Revelation,” he stated.
However, Fuludu is being accused of operating a ‘personal’ account as acting DFA chairman. “I have been accused of opening an FA personal account and that I used monies from the said account. First and foremost, the account with Sterling Bank is titled Delta Football Association Account not Edema Fuludu Delta State Football Association account. Why was this account opened? I became DFA acting chairman after Okocha’s unavoidable absence became a source of concern. The board inherited two accounts, which I am aware of, Zenith Bank and Eco Bank. Okocha did not effect change of signatory for two years primarily because there was no funds in the accounts and also because calling a meeting was a herculean task for him.
“The FA secretary when we came on board was a signatory to the DFA account and could operate when the leagues sent money for the NNL matches in the state. He was removed immediately from the FA and replaced with another from the sports commission (Mr. Patrick Marere). “The NFF wanted to send money for NNL matches and called me and I cautioned against paying league match monies into an account we cannot access. I also refused payment into the new FA secretary’s personal account. This necessitated our opening the Sterling Bank account called DFA Sterling Bank account so that the FA can meet its league supervision.
“The cheque leaves and ATM card were with the secretary. Within one year, Mr. Patrick Marere was replaced again by the commission. The reasons for changing these secretaries boils down to supposed disloyalty.
“On January 10, 2019, I called a board meeting having consulted every member of the board on the suitability of time as it was usually difficult to get an appropriate time since two members of the board are Lagos-based, amongst other issues of personal itinerary. I proposed January 7, 2019 and of course Victor Ikpeba and two others pleaded for a shift and I agreed that is why 10th became the consensus date.
“The Agenda was DFA election preparations as directed by a letter from the Nigeria Football Federation addressed to all state FA chairmen with a timeline.
“Prior to this date I had received a telephone call about December 27, 2018 from the executive chairman of the Delta State Sports Commission asking me when we plan to conduct the elections and why I have not reported to his office and with a command that I should bring everything to his office immediately. Calmly I tried to let him know that the Sports Commission is not responsible for the FA elections. I however respectfully told him I would love to have a discussion with him before a board meeting I plan to schedule for early January, which we now had on the above said date.”
Fuludu said the board meeting had seven members present, with Ikpeba Victor apologizing for his absence caused by flight hitches from Lagos.
At the meeting, Fuludu said he informed the members that he had sent the existing DFA electoral guidelines to the NFF to beat the deadline, adding, however, that it could still be amended and resent to the NFF if and when necessary.
He added: “The confrontation and antagonism started when I was accused of drawing up an existing guidelines, which for them never existed. I was mildly astonished to know that members who have been in the board for three or four consecutive terms have never seen the FA electoral guidelines. I wondered aloud if they ever bought forms and completed the requirements in the previous and present board. I was later commended for making it available. We agreed on cost of Nomination forms, date of elections and inconclusive on the Electoral and Appeal committees.
“Problem started when we got to analysis of the composition of the delegates, which are: The 25 local council FA chairmen one vote each, The Coaches Association Delta chapter one vote, NRA Delta council one vote, Nigeria players Union one vote, NNL clubs in the state one vote, Female league (Delta Queens) one vote and NLO clubs one vote.
“Messrs Sunday Lucky and Kennett Nwaomucha stopped proceedings, insisting that all delegates must be brought by the Delta State Sports Commission. I enunciated the fact that what they were saying was against NFF electoral guidelines, which is an adaptation of FIFA guidelines and the DFA electoral guidelines which is an adaptation of the NFF’s.
“They kept insisting that previous commission chairmen did that. I read out the relevant NFF electoral statutes 2014. They agreed but insisted the rules will come to play after these elections. There was an after thought on a peace brokered by Rev. J.D Okoh, a senior man and member of the board that I visit the Sports commission chairman to have a common ground on the delegates matter and thereafter call another meeting to finalize the issues. I did meet with the commission Chairman but our discussion was an insistent No from him that he alone will provide the delegates.”
Fuludu said he was astonished when he got a text from the FA secretary saying, “he has been directed to call an emergency meeting for January 17, 2019 after he had been commandeered with police escort to retrieve the FA’s statement of Account and I asked by who? He said he was forced to send the message by Oga. An illegal meeting presided over by who?
“I am astonished that some notable ex-footballers in the board who are supposed to protect football do not have analytical depth and can be lured by small lucre. We die when we begin to trade our conscience for food that lasts only for a moment.”