Ijaw leader Edwin Clark has called for sack of the Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Mr Solomon Dalung, for allegedly discrediting Vice President Yemi Osinbajo for recognising Amaju-Pinnick-led Board of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF).
The elder statesman Clark, who made the call in a statement on Saturday in Abuja, said reports of “disloyalty and parochial utterances’’ credited to Dalung in various media reports were embarrassing.
According to Clark, for the minister to discredit the very patriotic and timely intervention of Osinbajo as Acting President, to recognise the Amaju Pinnick-led Board of the NFF is unacceptable.
The elder statesman further said there was no sense in the minister of sports discrediting a laudable action that saved Nigeria from ban by the world football governing body FIFA.
“This was an action taken by the Acting President at a very critical stage of our football history to avert FIFA’s ban on Nigeria.
“Osibanjo restored to the global platform of honour, an action commended by all and sundry, locally and internationally.
“If this action was not taken by the Acting President at the time he did, it will have been a disgrace and a setback for Nigerian football.
“But here is Mr Dalung, Nigeria’s Minister of Sports, who unfortunately, thinks and behaves differently.’’
Clark said the action of the vice president called for commendation and not condemnation.
“Instead of rejoicing and towing the line of the government under which he is serving, he has unfortunately showed total disrespect and disloyalty for the Acting President and the government in his open show of ignorance and incompetence.’’
Clark quoted Dalung as saying, “as a barrister and solicitor of the Supreme Court of Nigeria who took oath of office to defend the constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, I will prefer to stand with the Rule of Law, instead of the opinion of men.
“We are a constitutional democracy and the doctrine of separation of powers is the foundation of democratic experience.
“Therefore, the Rule of Law is the only mechanism that guarantees liberty and freedom of citizens.
“This administration is elected on the change mantra, meaning that impunity has no accommodation anywhere.
“So, Nigerians must learn to believe and practice the doctrine of the Rule of Law. I believe we shall overcome this if we remain within the confines and dictates of the laws of our country.’’
Clark noted that the decision taken by Osibanjo was well informed, adding that, he is a Prof. of Law, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria, and former Attorney-General and Commissioner of Justice of Lagos State.
He stressed that Osibanjo had for decades, taken the oath of Office to defend the same Constitution and the Rule of Law.
“I also swore to the same oath when I qualified as a lawyer 53 years ago. What is the minister talking about defending the constitution and obeying the rule of law?
“After reading what the Honourable Minister says, one is left to wonder in whose interest he is serving, because it is obviously not in the interest of government and the Nigerian people.
“He never showed any concern whether Nigeria was banned by FIFA or not, except his own interest.
“For instance, the minister knows that Mr Chris Giwa had been banned for five years by FIFA, yet, he put him on the list of a 15-man delegation to FIFA in Switzerland.
“Another clear case is when Mr President directed the Department of State Services (DSS), to flush out Mr Chris Giwa and his subordinates from the Glass House, Dalung was not only believed to have encouraged Giwa’s return.
“He is reported to have facilitated the resurrection of the leadership feud within the NFF, which undermines the great successes of the Amaju Pinnick-led NFF on the nation’s towering football engagements,’’ he said.
According to Clark, in the overall interest of the future of football, and for Nigeria to maintain its position as the largest country in Africa, the Ministry of Sports is not the place for the likes of Mr Dalung.
He noted that given Nigeria’s present status, disloyalty, indiscipline, arrogance and mediocrity should not be condoned in any area of public service.
“The legal profession which I have cherished and belong to investigate all my adult life cannot be ridiculed by certain persons who are bereft of character and honour required of public officers.
“One should expect that the minister should strive to see how permanent peace will be restored to Nigerian Football administration, particularly now that he has set up a reconciliation committee.
“He should not be personifying the disagreement within the NFF, but seek out of court settlement in Jos High Court, where the Supreme Court referred the matter to.
“The Supreme Court did not give any definite judgment in favour of anybody and therefore, it was very improper of the minister to drag in the Supreme Court in his offensive statement.
“It must be emphasised that, the unity of Nigeria is very paramount, and football is one of the contributory factors to this unity,’’ he said.
Clark said “as an elder statesman of 91, an incurable football enthusiast, and having remained so since my youth, and my days as a student in England, I was a strong supporter of Manchester United, until I returned to Nigeria in 1965.
“I continued to show my interest in football and other sporting activities from primary to secondary school levels when I was appointed Commissioner for Education in the old Midwest State.
“Then, football and other sporting activities were domiciled in the Youth Directorate which was directly under my supervision as Commissioner for Education.
“It was our policy then to develop football and other sporting activities and our footballers and athletes excelled in all competitions.
“In order to develop sporting activities, therefore, the School of Physical Education was established at Afuze, now Michael Imoudu College of Physical Education, Afuze in the then Owan Division, now Owan Local Government Area of Edo.
“This is what I expected a Sports Minister who knows his onions to concentrate on.”