Figure 1 ? Apartheid of Nigerian Athletes

 ? By Dr. Rashid A. Balogun

What is good for the goose is also good for the gander is an old saying that becomes very relevant to the topic of this writing. Fighting lions engaged each other with full force ready for any outcome but if one of such creatures lacked teeth and claws, how shall we politely predict the outcome the outcome other than to say, doom?

The Sports Minister in an effort to combat protracted disagreements between some federations and the athletes intervened with a new rule (contractual code of conduct) on the expected behavior of any athlete while engaged to represent the country. This cannot be said to be unconnected to the Super Eagles and track and field stars? rebellion recently, although laudable but, yes there are many ?but(s)? (reasons) when things are done this way. To begin is it logical and reasonable to ask about the existence of a code of conduct for NSC officials and sports federations?

Firstly, the Minister lacked any power from extant NSC Act to regulate or enact enforceable rules; as such that power resides with the National Assembly, the people?s representative. Secondly, the rule can never amount to an enforceable contract without discussion about monetary aspect and the parties? bargaining power vis-?-vis athletes? side than one-sided agreement. And thirdly, this NSC action is a symbol of dictatorship contrary to democratic values because it is a ?DECREE? ab initio (from the beginning), therefore, it is null and void.

Let us be clear here, muzzling athletes from speaking their minds will violate their constitutional right to free speech and the setup of any code of conduct without the athletes? input rather consultations from the perpetrators of the reasons athletes grieved amounts to a decree that has no force or effect, essentially apartheid.

Impugned Conducts

The national football team challenged a decision whereby they claimed there?s an existing agreement between them and the illegal football federation to pay $10,000 for their major tournament win whereas the NSC and that football federation said no such contract exists, therefore, the team should be happy if the players were (then) extended $5,000 for such win. As a result of this disagreement, those team members refused to board a flight to confederation cup in protest.

The problem in this scenario should be obvious and that is, no action by an illegal entity can be normalised and enforced in a democratic dispensation, therefore, a contract (for argument?s sake) by only one party (the footballers) with non-existing party is no contract at all. It takes at least two persons to have an agreement. But more appalling is the fact that the NSC actually set up a panel at costs to the nation to tell it this (obvious) observation. Unfortunately, the players may have been ill-advised by their handlers to begin with.

The athletes (athletics) on their part protested shabby treatments and high standard of performance to earn money winning at Golden meet competition whereby that federation also sets up its own code of conduct in the same vein as the NSC. Unfortunately, again such rule whether signed or not serves no purpose and not enforceable by any Nigeria?s court of law because that federation will be considered an illegal foreign entity for failure to comply with Nigeria?s Companies and Allied Matters Act (CAMA) to exist as a representative of foreign corporate body as such persona non-grata in Nigeria. As noted above, an agreement must involve two persons (legal or individual). The question is for the sake of argument; of what benefit is an agreement like this to the athletes and who has no right to challenge any clause within it and that federation is unknown to law in Nigeria?

In a Nutshell

Clearly, athletes in all sports are aggrieved by many actions taken by their federations along with the NSC and can anyone disagree that removing the athletes from determining their federations? leadership has everything to do with these grievances? Each federation?s leadership should have been based on athletes vote not impose by paid idiots parading themselves as states? director of sports and that?s the root cause of the grievance. Sports Minister knew of this potential outcome from the onset but he was bent on returning the likes of Ndannusa, Ogba, Dauda Yussuf and others to continue the destruction of the country?s sports.

Way Forward

If the NSC continues with dictatorship and imposed code of conduct without National Assembly?s enacting legislation to grant NSC such power of secondary legislation then the athletes (all sports) can as well imposed their rules of engagement spelling out how much they will be entitled to and when such amounts be paid (before, during and after such engagements).

In order to truly combat an athletes? rebellion, federations must be explicitly abandoned by NSC while NSC simply uses the results of national trials to select and funds the athletes (all sports) directly. The football conundrum can be solved with new formulae where only existing and past footballers get to vote on the federation leadership not some foolish state director of sports.

Athletes must determine their own leadership by right of voting because to do otherwise is tantamount to apartheid. With that, one must ask how possible can the country progress where athletes are disconnected from the mainstream rather are treated as slaves. I ask the readers to write the Sports Minister and the President about this.

On another note, Nigerians ought to know that the Sports Minister is of the age where challenge to his actions are welcomed and that is a plus on his part as such, I ain?t mad at him and he knows that very well. It?s just consistent wrong decisions been challenged because of those perambulating vagabonds.

I rest

Dr. Rashid A. Balogun, CPA, LLB(Hons), LLM(London)

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