NPFL: Can Those Insightful Sermons From Elegbeleye, Gusau Hold Water?

By Victor Enyinnaya on January 9, 2023

Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) 2023 kicked off yesterday, Sunday,  January 8, on abridged league arrangement all in a race against time and if you like,  you can further say all in bid to ensure the country would meet Confederation of African Football (CAF) deadline for her competitions, when the apex continental football governing body demands for entries. Furthermore to ensure her league will be at pair with other leagues in the World.  Nigeria is a nation well known for her “eleventh hour” way of doing things of global importance.

However, the thrust of this week’s article is not to praise or criticize either the Interim Management Committee, headed by veteran sports administrator, Gbenga Elegbeleye, Nigeria Football Federation bossed by yet another tested hand in football administration, Ibrahim Gusau or NPFL but to highlight some of the issues both Gbenga Elegbeleye and Ibrahim Gusau raised on the course of letting the nation and her teeming football fans who were eager to extract from them information because  they have gone all time low of late.

If you watched or listened to Elegbeleye and Gusau during the announcement of the current league season in the country, you would deduce the central sing song by both men which centered on the urgent need to bring the country’s league at pair with the rest of serious playing leagues in the globe. Another central point noted was the sober reflection both administrators expressed and without much ado it can be concluded that if what they told us is anything to rely upon, then for the first time both men may have learnt their lessons and look set to give their best this time around.


For Elegbeleye Nigerian league can be up there if things are strictly and properly handled. According to him, the country is roundly blessed with human and natural resources to make football work better and great. He emphasised that if the will power to turn around the administration of football in the country is uppermost, then Nigeria will occupy her proper place of pride in the comity of football playing nations in the World.

Let me confess that I was clapping when Elegbeleye was reeling out doable ways NPFL ought to be run and profitably too. Where our players will earn handsomely and their welfare upbeat too which would make it impossible for them to be lured out by foreign club sides.  Already, questions on the lips of many analysts and football buffs are, can the insightful sermons from Elegbeleye and Gusau truly hold water at the end of the day?

One fundamental point both Elegbeleye and Gusau must note is that Nigerian football fans are keenly and earnestly watching them to ensure that they do the talk never to see this their talk as cheap like their predecessors. To be honest with you, Elegbeleye hit the nail on the head as he deeply reflected on the ills that have retarded Nigerian football locally these odd years.

Nigerian league has been on its knees all these while. Note that fire brigade approach has been Nigeria’s middle name for too long. For instance, our clubs in continental championships have acted more as mere spectators than competitors.  Nigerian clubs in CAF Champions League found it extremely difficult to scale through as they have never crossed beyond the preliminary stage of the competition. Such trend has been the order of day lately. The ongoing CAF Champs League is no exception where Rivers and Plateau United teams were shamelessly booted out even by teams from country like war torn Sudan.

However, without any prejudice, it has been only Enyimba International FC Aba that has been managing to reach the group stage since the most successful club in the country last competed in that prestigious prime club championship in the continent.  I have to say it categorically clear here that if this line of Elegbeleye would be sincerely toed to the latter, then Nigerian league is on its way to full recovery and also on the verge of competing neck to neck and strongly against teams from the continent and then come out with their heads high.

In as much as Elegbeleye and Gusau worry about the stronghold of NPFL clubs are not unfounded, NPFL clubs are not strong enough to withstand squarely the fireworks from other countries even from Niger Togo, Benin Republic etc. It is as bad as that. However, one hopes that the way and manner Elegbeleye passionately frowned at the state of NPFL clubs that cannot compete enduringly when the chips are down in continental championships would ever remain a dark spot and sad indictment on how the game has been managed in Nigeria for decades now even worst after the migrate from the old great days of amateur league to this so called NPFL era. 

This columnist hopes also that Gbenga Elegbeleye’s cry on the state of the NPFL is not again one of those or such gimmick rituals from Nigerian government officials each time they are appointed fresh and on their first assignment shed crocodile tears and aftermath, the rot continues.

Though close NPFL analysts said, they have as usual taken Elegbeleye’s statement on the state of the league with a pitch of salt adding that, when he was the Director- General of the now defunct National Sports Commission there was that spectacular performance in football development locally. They chorused that until Elegbeleye stamps his feet on ground this time as IMC boss and ensures things are turned around positively that history will not judge him hash for not being sincere.

Truly, everything is wrong with Nigerian football be it local or our international players, absolutely nothing works.

On the part of NFF President, Ibrahim Gusau the noose tightens.  It is no hidden fact that he has been part and parcel of most successive administrations in the apex football governing body in the country. He is an establishment man as this columnist had earlier emphasised. Gusau has been there and knows every nook and crannies on football administration in the country. In short, it will be safe to declare that Gusau knows where the bucket is leaking in the country’s football. If he decides to make great difference he would.

Therefore the ball is on his court. If he wants to salvage Nigerian football from its present sorry state, he conveniently would. Gusau knows the in and out. Gusau holds very vital information on Nigerian football.  Make no mistake about it he has information on Nigerian football roundly. In short if you like information of to be or not to be. If he wants to go forward with the game it rests on his palms.  He has been among those who have either in small scale made the game or those who completely marred it administratively all these years, like the immediate past regime he was deeply involved. 

Let it be absolutely emphasised here that Gusau has all it takes to rebuild Nigerian football holistically.  He has the ace by the virtue of his long stay in the game’s administration.

If he fails to make positive impact on the game by going all out to take decisions which would step on toes but would redefine and reshape then he would miss it like most of his predecessors who are currently on the wrong side of history even though they are freely enjoying their loots..

This page will fully unveil who is Ibrahim Gusau, the President of NFF later.  My take in this context is that both Gbenga Elegbeleye and Ibrahim Gusau have date with history to right the wrongs they have one way or another inflicted on the game as analysts may hold both of them responsible for contributing one way or the other in the downward trend still plugging Nigerian football cum sports today.

One will not fail to acknowledge the gesture shown by Interim Management Committee headed by Gbenga Elegbeleye for disbursing N200, 000, 000 to the clubs in NPFL as grant to start off the abridged season which kicked off yesterday, Sunday, January 8 and increment for overall winner at the end of season to N100, 000,000 and sundry. It showed lots of encouragement to teams to strive harder in the game’s spirit of oneness and violent free, rooted on impartial officiating being firm for actions and inactions that would have rubbed off on the crowd pulling game in the globe.

As we keep our eagle eyes on them, keep shooting hard till next week. Meanwhile we wait!! 

Source Daily Sports Nigeria

Posted January 9, 2023


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