Athletics Federation of Nigeria seems to be gathering more steam and quality human resources willing to step into the leadership of the federation. Here, Olajide Fashikun, Olayinka Elebute and Oluwole Francis have decided to do a first pre-election analysis of what to expect on 13th June. Have a lovely read.
Candidates running for what: We have decided to run all the names in the public domain who have either directly or indirectly expressed their desire to occupy the Athletics Federation of Nigeria secretariat. At the last count, we had names like:
-Alhaji Tunde Abdulkareem;
-Commodore Omatseye Nesiama;
-Hon Ibrahim Gusau;
-Mr Enefiok Udo-Obong;
-Mr Gadzama Fidelis;
-Mr Olukayode Thomas;
-Mr Solomon Ogba
-Mrs Rosa Collins;
-Prof Ken Anugweje
Two categories of contenders are in the race for the only medal for this election. A long list of former international athletes and non athletes. Amongst those who were athletes before includes former 400m hurdler Henry Amike, Sydney 2000 gold medallists in Enefiok Udo-Obong and Fidelis Gadzama, Harare ’95 All Africa Games gold medallist Rosa Collins and former Queen of the track Chief Mary Onyali running though as Vice President.
In the cadre of non former internationals are Alhaji Tunde Abdulkareem, Commodore Omatseye Nesiama; Hon Ibrahim Gusau; Mr Olukayode Thomas, Mr Solomon Ogba and Prof Ken Anugweje. Amongst this two classes are pretenders, hocus-pocus candidates and contenders.
Chief Mary Onyali: It was learnt that Atlanta ’96 Olympic Games bronze medallist Mary Onyali has received an outpouring of support from both active and retired national athletes since she declared her interest to contest the post of vice-president during the election. Her position as the Executive Director (Technical) of the Basic Olive Opportunity Sports Training (BOOST) under the aegis of the Nigeria Sports Development Fund Inc (NSDFI) has thrown her into public glare which made many athletes identify with her.
When she made the declaration on Sports Parliament, a foremost NTA programme, the nation was agog waiting for her emergence to translate what they are doing on a private initiative to a massive national project that will open several thousands of opportunities to the sport.
All pointers are obviously in her favour to emerge if at all any other candidate emerges. No former athlete is likely to contend with the Vice President of the Confederation of African Athletes (CAA). She is likely sprinting home with the diadem as she used to do when she represented the nation in different fora. Her chances of emergence is 60:40.
Enefiok Udo-Obong: One question that man who said he has no god father in the race to occupy the Athletics Federation of Nigeria Presidency needs to answer is, can he do a great finish like he did in the 4x400m Sydney Olympics in this race?
Udo-Obong ran the last leg of the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games men’s 4x400m relay final to win silver for Nigeria. The International Olympic Committee in 2008 stripped the Americans of the gold medal after Antonio Pettigrew admitted using performance-enhancing drugs during the Games. The IOC awarded the title to Nigerian quartet of Udo-Obong, Clement Chukwu, Jude Monye and the late Sunday Bada.
Will any of the contenders test positive again leading to his winning or he will win straight. His known weakness is that he did not go round states or cells of states to campaign. Many of the Directors of Sports who would have expected him to come see them in black and white may just give instructions to their delegates to pass by him.
The other possible threat is the fact that he, Commodore Omatseye Nesiama and Mrs Rosa Collins are from the same zone. They may end up spoiling votes for each other if they do not run compromise and withdraw one for the other. His chances unlike his skills when he ran seems to be 45:55.
Rosa Collins: The former African and national triple jump women record holder would have wanted to be the second President of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria after long jumper Violet Nwajei. Her very close association with Brown Ebewele even if she could run would have killed her ambition. Many folks in the sport are simply put not convenient with Brown Ebewele who serves as her manager.
Beyond all these, the new rules of election which does not permit a presidential or vice presidential candidate to vote for the self may have knocked her out. This is like the biggest face saving factor or alibi.
Otherwise, even if that rule, for instance is waived, I do not see her despite spending so much money to reach delegates to be able to get enough vote to take her there. She should be content of being on the board and start searching for activities that will boost the sport after the election.
Sure that young boys and girls whose future are at stake are looking feverishly towards her and her other colleagues to effect a much awaited and prayed change in the sport. Her chances may hang on the 20:80.
Solomon Ogba: Though he has repeatedly said he won’t run again but several persons in the sport do not believe him, they claim that Ogba who has held sway for eight years is yet to categorically rule himself out of reckoning. They fear he will do a last minute gambit and re-enter the race. Though, several of his lackeys are running but their fate seems to hang on the precipice.
However, the absolute quality of attack on him and his administration on the social media is outrageous. There is no immediate reasons that can guarantee him to win the process. A voice close to him said, “he is in USA pursuing some other businesses. He won’t be around. I guarantee you, he is not contesting. Take my word to the bank for a loan. We may not wager any chance for him at all.
Henry Amike: Amike who still holds the national 400m hurdles record, a 49.10 seconds effort since 1987 may have aborted his agenda to run the race. Having ran in the technical officials where he lost must have put paid to his ambition.
Pundits say despite that loss, he can still run for the 13th June election. How that works, we are waiting. A day after he lost the technical election he told www.gongnews.net “though the process has been made somewhat cumbersome, I am still forging ahead. It is all about reviving athletics in the country. It is quite obvious that we need to change the way things are done. With the cooperation of everyone I see a bright future for Nigerian athletics. I can contribute from within and outside the federation” Amike said.
Amike is the president of the Nigeria Association of Olympians and also the Nigeria Athletics Technical Officials Association. His chances seems closed.
Alhaji Tunde Abdulkareem: The Chairman of Athletics in Kwara and Vice President under Solomon Ogba is in the reckoning. He commands a large followership in the sport. Though, the halo of Ogba is heavy on him and Commodore Omatseye Nesiama.
His current albatross is likely Olukayode Thomas who is from the same state with him. One of them should have stepped down for the other. They are likely going to spoil the vote base of their constituency thus, that may cost the two of them.
Given that Abdulkareem may secure the vote for the board coming from the zone. If he does not get the Presidency, he would be dropping from Vice President to board member. If the new rules are anything to go by, there are chances that, once he gets the board, he may not be allowed to run the Presidency of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria. If otherwise, he gets the board, is allowed to run for Presidency and he loses, his rich experience, financial muscle and passion for the sport being a Finance person having retired as the Accountant General of Kwara state will make him veritable as the chairman of the very important Marketing and Sponsorship Committee. The conjectures are only mathematical.
Beyond of these, the silent worker who is seen as the sole light that is sustaining the wonderful foundation that coach Harrison Momah planted in the state puts his money where his passion stands. If elected, question the pundits ask is, will he drive on a faster route than their last board. Yes, he answered with a convincing voice. His chances despite all these lie in the 45:55 odds.
Commodore Omatseye Nesiama: The soft spoken senior Naval officer who just retired from service is one of the accredited agents in the sport. He came into the race to head the Athletics Federation of Nigeria a little close to the sealing of the form. He is confident of his reach to swing the election to himself. He is so sure of what he needs to do to drive the sport out of its present quagmire.
His Achilles is, many people see him as an acolyte of Chief Solomon Ogba. Two is, he and Enefiok Udo-Obong are from the same region. Like the duo of Thomas and Abdulkareem, they may weaken their home base against each other.
Nesiama, from sources, is only waiting on the new rules to run the Presidential race. He is not known may be he is bidding for the zonal membership slot. Assuming he does, the new rule may knock him out of contention having emerged from the zone. Assuming, the interpretation of the rule is not as envisaged, he will remain on board if and when the presidency is decided and concluded otherwise, that will mean he is out of the mainstream administration but his license as an agent will remain the upline of his importance to the sport in the country.
If elected, Nesiama said, “I have been in the trenches and what I know, the international contacts I have built and the necessary funding options open inside the country are enormous. I will be able to lead a team that will spring so many surprises. One thing is sure, I won’t do anything extra ordinary to swing the votes. If the people have confidence in what I can do, believe in me, vote for me, I would prove my mettle. His chances are flung around 40:60.
Olukayode Thomas: He is a trained journalist. The self-acclaimed Solomon Ogba supported candidate who admitted that all the candidates in the race are having an Ogba halo is strong willed. He is so certain he will be voted into office.
He and Abdulkareem not being able to decide and one supporting the other may injure both of them. However, the man who managed the media relations of the last board may also be carrying the negative shadows of that board on his abilities to go through the 13th June process.
Yes, he is clear visioned on what and how to achieve change when voted though many people in the sport opined that he knows the sport he reported so well but how that knowledge can bring out the almost dead body from the deep blue sea is doubted.
His recent forays in the organisation of the Lagos Access Bank marathon is one of the strong factors that can work for him. His chances in view of the forgoing hangs on the pendulum swinging round the mark of the 50-50.
Prof Ken Anugweje: The Abia-born University of Port Harcourt professor had ventured to enter the race from Imo state. When that did not work, he ran back home but the voting slot is with Charity Okpara-Asonze. He is not only unpopular with athletes. He is seen as the weakest of the Solomon Ogba lackeys running for the race to head the Athletics Federation of Nigeria. Too many weights are on his candidature that will not let it fly.
With the decision almost sealed, the ticket for the zonal member may be going to one of the key sponsors of athletics in the zone over the years, Lagos business man, Mr Patrick Onyedum. Onyedum is the chairman of the Anambra Athletics Association. This means, Anugweje may be entering the presidential race blank. He does not have the zone. He does not have his state’s vote and he may not control either of the two votes in his bid. That makes him a presidential orphan.
Chances that he will be able to get the south east zone back his ambition is weak. It is out of the dreams he may get other zones. His chances of winning the Athletics Federation of Nigeria president is so bright as much as 10:90 odds.
Fidelis Gadzama: Enefiok Udo-Obong’s team mate in the Sydney Olympics Gold medal squad. Solomon Ogba’s most difficult internal critic being a member of the last board. He ran the presidency election the last time out. He is reported to be running to come in from the north-east zone which he will win with absolute ease.
He lives in the UK. Many see this as not likely to work for him if he runs on the Presidency bill. Being on the board should be enough for him. Asking for more will not only destroy the chances of Hon Ibrahim Gusau but he does not have the time to drive the ship. He would be an absentee President and that is not what the sport presently needs.
Presently, if Gadzama decides to run the Athletics Federation of Nigeria president slot, the odds does not favour him. Against a Gusau in the race, he runs a 30:70 odd. Smartest decision. Hold the board and sprint out of the race to the President.
Hon Ibrahim Gusau: The former member of the House of Representatives had ran the last two elections to head the board of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria. This is the third race. Silent worker. He got so peeved with the last election that just ran out that he simple
Hon Ibrahim Gusau…dark horse sure of his chances
Hon Ibrahim Gusau…dark horse sure of his chances
walked away from the board. While he was out, he promised poster girl, Blessing Okagbare a car if she wins gold at the Commonwealth Games. He fulfilled the promise of the car.
To many pundits, this is a slim hope he may be able to change the tide. He, like Gadzama, are the only candidates from the north. If he secures Gadzama out of the way. Two, if the Thomas-Abdulkareem and Nesiama-Udo Obong structures does not dissolve, Gusau may sneak away with the medal. At this level of permutation, the odds are 70:30.
However, if for instance, Thomas pulls away for Abdulkareem (which is very slim) and either of Nesiama and Udo Obong pulls away (which is equally slim), the odds against Gusau may hang around 20:80. Except, it is a two-way horse race. Against Abdulkareem, the odds can be 50:50 but against Nesiama, it can be 40:60. Gusau may be able to hold his north west region and get the north east from Gadzama and pocket some states in the other regions.