House of Representatives Committee on Sports took the bull by the horns on Thursday to ensure the delayed Nigeria Premier League takes off on March 9 and would be rounded off by September 29th 2013 when the House Committee Chairman, Honourable Godfrey Gaiya brought all the parties involved in the League together at the National Assembly to solve the matter once and for all.
In attendance were the Nigeria Football Federation Executive Board led by President Aminu Maigari, the NFF General Secretary Musa Amadu and the League Management Committee (LMC) represented by Shehu Diko who met with the legislators and ironed out the date of the commencement of the league.
The House of Representatives Committee on Sports also went on to hear the complaints of deposed chairman of the Nigeria Premier League Rumson Baribote as part of the litigations that have delayed the start of the NPL.
At a point the sports journalists covering the parley were politely excused from the meeting when it was discovered that an official of the League Management Committee was finding it difficult to divulge some important reasons for the delay of the league which he did not want to make public.
After two and half hours of deliberations, there was consensus that the league could now commence on the date mentioned. The LMC also assured on the provision of funds to kick start the league on the chosen date despite the problem of League title sponsors that have not been resolved totally. The LMC representative, Diko also assured that the title sponsorship issue would soon be resolved totally.
Unfortunately, the deposed NPL chairman Baribote was adamant on his position and told Goal.com that he will never recognize the League Management Committee because both NPL, NFF, Caf and Fifa statutes did not support it.
Honourable Gaiya said after the deliberations on Thursday that , “the House Committee on Sports is concerned about the lack of take off of the Nigeria Premier League having seen that in other countries their elite leagues have commenced. After an exhaustive discussions with the League Management Committee and the assurances from the League Management Committee that the Nigeria Premier League would commence on the 9th of March, 2013 across all centers in Nigeria.
“We also had the opportunity of interactions between the President of the Nigeria Football Federation, the General Secretary of the Football Federation and top members of the NFF and Chief Rumson Baribote (the deposed former Nigeria Premier League Chairman) with a view to resolving other issues bothering on the league,” Gaiya disclosed.
Baribote fumed throughout the proceedings and said that since the case was already in court he would be banking on the court to resolve the issue legally.
“NFF President Aminu Maigari does not own the league, the Nigeria Premier League is owned by Nigeria and it is only myself and Senator Bukola Saraki that spend our money for (our clubs) in Nigerian league today and you cannot push me out of the management of the league just like that because you are not more Nigerian than myself.
“This is not a lawless place. There are rules guiding football. Let the President of Nigeria Football Federation come to tell me where there is in Fifa and Caf statutes where there is Management Interim Committee in league. What is provided for in the NPL, NFF statutes is the League Football Committee headed by the First Vice President. We should not bring ethnic sentiments to football.
“What is provided in the NPL statutes is that there must be 20 clubs and seven (7) elected members. So at what point did you amend that statute to contain 33 members, that is 20 clubs and 13 appointed people. I am a law abiding citizen. The matter is before a competent court of jurisdiction. If they feel they have the right to disobey court so be it. But if the court feels they don’t have the right to disobey them so be it,” Baribote submitted.
Diko, however, submitted that the league should not be allowed to suffer because of the litigations. He believes that the matter could still be settled while the league is on.
“We have concluded that the Premier League should kick off on March 9th, 2013 and we are ready for that day,” Diko disclosed.