Monday, October 25, 2010


By last week Wednesday, the ethics committee of FIFA, the world football governing body announced the suspension of Amos Adamu and Reynald Temarii, president of the Oceania Football Confederation. The duo was temporarily suspended as FIFA sought more time to study their case. FIFA says it will meet again by mid November to take a final decision on their case. Until their suspension, the two men were members of FIFA executive committee responsible for deciding the host of FIFA organized competitions. In fact, they were both on the 24-member committee that is supposed to vote on the hosts of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Zurich, Switzerland by December 2010.

And as things turned out, that assignment appears to be their undoing. Adamu was caught on video tape by undercover reporters from the UK Sunday Times asking for $800,000 (N120,000,000) to sell his vote for the 2018 World Cup bid. In the footage released on the night of October 16, Adamu said he wanted the money to build four artificial football pitches in Nigeria, but asked that the sum be paid to him personally. When asked if the payment would influence his vote, Adamu had replied, “Obviously, it will have an effect. Of course it will. Because certainly if you are to invest in that, that means you also want the vote,”

Now that is in clear violation of FIFA's rules. Chapter 11 of the rule forbids “Any kind of advantage that could give even the impression of exerting influence, or conflict of interest, either directly, or in connection with the bidding process, such as that at the beginning of a collaboration, whether with private persons, a company or any authorities except for occasional gifts that are generally regarded as symbolic or incidental value and that exclude any influence on a decision in relation to the bidding process; and any benefit, opportunity, promise, remuneration or service to any such individuals, in connection with the bidding process.” Temarii too appear to have fallen on the wrong side of the same rule. He was alleged to have asked for $2.4 million (N360,000,000) to finance a football academy in Auckland.
While FIFA’s ethics committee continue to look into Adamu’s case, the former director general of the National Sports Commission, NSC has also attracted the attention of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC. “The Chairperson of the EFCC, Farida Waziri asked the director of operations to make contact with FIFA. The EFCC is very much interested in the case and we want to find out to what extent, Dr. Adamu is involved. He is a Nigerian, since he has been mentioned in alleged bribery, we have to investigate,” said Femi Babafemi, spokesperson of the Commission, on October 19.
The move by EFCC, although commendable, may have come several years late as some analysts believe that Adamu’s case also reveals the rot in the Nigerian system. This, perhaps explain why Godwin Spiff-Sagbamah, Chief Executive Officer, Hallysports International believes that Nigerians should not be quick to blame Adamu. “I blame the Nigerian system and government because it encourages corruption and supports corrupt people. Once you are able to amass wealth, you can suffocate people and manipulate the system to your advantage that’s what he (Adamu) has been doing. Adamu’s source of wealth should have long been investigated by the authorities or security agencies, Spiff-Sagbamah said.

He added that “All these boil down to our failure in government. If we had systems that had checks and balances, the man would long have been in prison. At several times, athletes have complained about very poor treatment when he was in charge,” says Spiff-Sagbamah. For many keen watchers of the recent developments, the Adamu bribery scandal has also revealed the prevalence of corruption in Nigeria football circles as well as the influence of Adamu. While the Oceania Football confederation swiftly reacted by confirming that it was investigating the matter, the opposite is what can be said of Nigeria as the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF has so far kept mute on the matter. Such a reaction only lent credence to the belief in some quarters that Adamu controls the levers of power in Nigerian football circles.

And there is a background to this. In 2007, then leader of Nigeria Football League, NFL, Oyuki Obaseki, alleged that Adamu was behind the crisis in the organization because he wanted the sponsorship money handed over to him. Officials of the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) also made similar allegations against him. Adamu, who is renowned in sports circles as the “Mr. Fix-It,” wields so much power that he could literally handpick or fire anybody as it suits his interest. “Adamu does not deserve sympathy from any patriotic Nigerian who has the interest of sports in mind. He has not contributed to the growth of Nigerian football," said veteran sports commentator, Martins Osaile. Tracing how Adamu managed to get to the FIFA executive committee, Osaile said it can be traced to his relationship with Issa Hayatou, President, Confederation of African Football, CAF. “Hayattou got contracts from Nigeria and when FIFA raised the seat for Africa, Hayattou saw a golden opportunity to pay his friend back. He quickly nominated Adamu for the FIFA executive post. So, if there is anybody that should be bothered with what Adamu is passing through, that person should be Hayattou,” Osaile asserted.

For some sports analysts, Adamu’s bribery scandal was also an indictment on the Nigerian media and the security agencies for not investigating several allegations of corruption against highly placed officials. “Majority of people in the sporting press are on Adamu’s payroll and they sang his praises, saying he was the best thing that ever happened to Nigeria sports, instead of performing their oversight functions of reporting what was really going on. Adamu got careless because over the years, he has been doing these and getting away with it,” said Olukayode Thomas, a journalist. During his career as a sports journalist at the Guardian Newspapers, Thomas’ investigative stories unearthed details that Adamu wanted to stay secret, one of which was his real names. “I discovered in Zuru, Kebbi State, his place of birth, that his real name is Babatunde Aremu. Adamu's father is from Ogbomosho, Oyo State and not Zuru,” said Thomas, who Adamu later sued for libel in 2007 demanding the sum of N500 million. Thomas won the protracted court battle. “Over the years, Amos was busy amassing wealth and running our sports like it was a private company. If he had listened to constructive criticisms and not charlatans who were only interested in his money, he would not be where he is today,” Thomas said.

However blaming the media for Adamu’s current travails may not be entirely true. “I remember TELL did a story on him before the 2003 8th All African Games in Abuja and his cronies went about buying every copy of the magazine at that time,” said Spiff-Sagbamah. Indeed, the report Spiff-Sagbamah is referring to was titled, “Scandal in Aso Rock: Anti-Graft Campaign Fraud,” and published in the magazine’s June 30, 2003 edition. The report detailed irregularities in the award of contracts for the supply of broadcast equipment for the coverage of the Games in Abuja 2003. Other newspapers and magazine followed up the story citing gross financial irregularities in the handling of the 2003 Games by Adamu, who was the executive director of COJA - the body charged with organizing the games. In spite of the magazine’s expose at that time, the federal government only promised to probe the expenses of the local organizing committee of the Games while nothing significant has come out of the probes till date.

“We are determined to have zero tolerance for any breach of the code of ethics,” said Jérôme Valcke, General Secretary after the suspension of the duo. “It is a sad day for football,” added a disappointed Sepp Blatter, FIFA President. However, this is not the first time that the credibility of FIFA officials has been called into question. The likes of Jack Warner, FIFA Vice-President and CONCACAF President; Jérôme Valcke, General Secretary; Ismail Bhamjee, FIFA executive member and even Blatter, have been accused of corruption in the past. Blatter's election to the presidency of FIFA in 1998 was amidst much controversy and his 2002 candidacy was embroiled in rumours of financial irregularities and backroom dealings, where Farra Ado, then vice-president of the CAF and president of the Somalian football association, reportedly claimed to have been offered $100,000 to vote for Blatter in 1998. Blatter was however cleared of any wrong doing. Would Adamu be found guilty or not guilty?

Adamu, a former university teacher who has a doctorate degree in Physical Education, was appointed sole administrator of the Nigeria Football Association in 1992. He served as Director-General of the National Sports Commission (NSC) for a decade before his dismissal in November 2008. He was also a major factor in the organization of the U-20 World Cup hosted by Nigeria in 1999, the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations jointly hosted with Ghana and the Nigeria 2009 Under-17 World Cup.

1 comment:

  1. However blaming the media for Adamu’s current travails may not be entirely true.

    sports gifts for men