By Tony Nezianya
The bid by Habu Gumel to return to the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) as its president is now seen as the tonic to revamp the once vibrant committee.
According to followers of the Olympic movement in the country, his bid to reclaim the headship of the committee at its elective congress in Asaba on Thursday is a clarion call to duty — to steer back a ship that had gone adrift.
In the last four years, there has been a seeming lack of coordination in the leadership of the committee.
The committee had largely been seen as a divided house, torn apart by internal squabbles that pitched the president against the secretary-general.
“The squabble, which polarised the entire committee, turned out a deviation from the norm because the in-fighting marred most of the executive committee sessions,’’ noted the chairman of a sports association who pleaded anonymity.
“Even the workers in the committee’s secretariat are poorly motivated as they are owed salaries for months.’’
A look at the secretariat complex shows that all has not been well. Even the 100 KVA generator installed during Gumel’s era has gone dysfunctional and the secretariat that used to be the envy of visitors to the National Stadium, Lagos, has lost the glory.
Perhaps, the way the leadership muzzled its way into the executive committee paved the way for the current situation. It was largely seen that the leadership circumvented all known legal means to come into office.
For instance, a provision in the NOC Constitution that an aspirant to the NOC presidency must belong to the International Federation (IF) in executive capacity for four years was not followed.
Nigeria’s failure at the London 2012 Olympic Games was traced to poor coordination by the NOC which muddled up the accreditation process.
“The joint NOC/sports ministry ad hoc secretariat during the Games failed to function and that was where the NOC was expected to provide leadership,’’ said a secretary in one of the sports associations.
The trend continued at the last Commonwealth Games in Scotland where the failure to pay allowances to sports federation chairmen left many of them stranded.
Another stigma trailing the incumbent executive is the failed bid to lease a landed property in Amuwo Odofin, Lagos, but for the caveat on it.
An insider said the Lagos State Government, the donor of the land, put the caveat, insisting that it must not be resold or leased as it was donated toward promoting Olympism and its ideals in the country.
With the pedigree of Gumel as an IOC member, a vice president of the International Volleyball Federation and a council member of the Association of Olympic Committees, Nigeria stands to benefit from his wealth of experience.
As a close ally of the current IOC President, Germany’s Thomas Bach, his return to the position will rekindle hopes while restoring the integrity of the NOC.
Born on April 1, 1949, Gumel has been a member of the IOC since 2009.
A statement released on Nov. 16 said no fewer than 16 persons had been cleared for the eight executive positions to be contested on Thursday.
It is expected that the election will be peaceful as there are no indications that the rancour that attended the last election will be witnessed in Asaba. (NAN)