Cover Story

Court Stops 'Peace Committee' From Mounting Roadblocks, Extorting Motorists In Donga

A Taraba state High court sitting in Wukari, has ordered that all roadblocks mounted by the Donga Peace Central Committee, be removed and i...

Exclusive How i emerges Taraba Football Association Chair- Sanusi Muhammed

●ex chair  used  FA to settle political scores with Gov. Ishaku
●Vow to revive FC Taraba, promote local soccer

Before your last delegate conference in Bali, what was the status of Taraba FA and your relationship with the former chairman?
Well, the status of Taraba FA is something that everybody knows because the current situation on ground, football wise, competitions, sporting activities, everything has been grounded because of some personal little tension between the former chairman and the government of the day as I was told was for political reasons. But I believe the situation has gotten out of hand and it is something we will have to intervene. This is where we think we can come in because the FA is the one suffering because of one individual’s personal ego. I think the FA doesn’t have to suffer.  If he wants to fight a political war with the government, I think he should do that individually. Because football in Taraba state is suffering because of that and I think it is something we will have to intervene.
And for my relationship with the former chairman, I think we had a cordial relationship because I used to come down to Jalingo to do some scouting program and he used to give his full support and personally I don’t have any problem or beef with him because I know he has actually done his best in carrying the association forward. But I think his biggest mistake is going into the political terrain because if he is going into that, he should know better that he was not going alone, that he was representing a body and he is more or less taking the body into the political platform which is not good for the association.
Was there a parallel election, and why did the seven delegates stayed away, give us a background of what happened at the congress?
Well, I think its best we give the full details of what transpired. First of all, it started two day before the election, we had information that some delegates are coming in, most especially the local government chairman are coming in to Jalingo for a meeting with the past chairman and I think the meeting was supposed the hold a day to the election and when they came into Jalingo for the meeting  because most of them are far away and have other engagements and couldn’t come all at once, they were coming in one after the other and fortunately, we have some delegates that are feeding us with necessary information of what are being planned for the election and how it is going to hold.
We had information that the venue of the election has been shifted from Kashaka to Bali and we had to do our own research from the security perspective. They even actually communicated to me that there is a security report based on this local government that is not safe for elections and more or less people from prominent families in Taraba that are going down there. There was information that people might try doing something funny down there like kidnappings. And their concern is that even NFF delegations are coming down to witness the event, and they are afraid anything can happen down there or along the road when coming back or even at the event because they believed two or three people there have good mind and they advice that election should be shifted to the state capital where the issues of security can be handled.
The issue of security situation can be handled to their comfort in Jalingo because if anything happens, it is not the NFF that would be blamed; it is the security apparatus that will be blamed. So they tried to communicate with the past chairman and advised him to shift the election back to Jalingo but I think he took the invitation as an intimidation to try to scare him or cowed him into doing the government bidding and the information I got is that he refused to honour the invitation and they tried to reach him but unfortunately he switched off his phone which was true because we also tried to reach him but unfortunately, even the chairman of the electoral committee could not get him because all his phones was switched off so nobody knows his fate because we are all candidates and no one communicated to us which venue the election will be holding. Is it still in or Bali or was it going to hold in Jalingo? We are all left without any communication or information. So later in the evening, we couldn’t get them the whole day and the next day is the election and so later in the evening, we got in touch with one or two people in the committee and they told us the chairman gave them transport to Bali for the election and they should just go individually because most of them have engagements in Jalingo and they are going to finish in different time, so, whenever they are done you just take a car and move to Bali.
So, with that information, we just said ok, it means this election is going to hold in Bali and that is how we got the information that it is going to be in Bali and nobody communicated anything to us and for me, it is unfair. Because we bought forms with our money and we took the rigorous task of coming down and going to most of this local governments for campaigns and I believe they owe it to us to even communicate to us, even if it is via text message, it is okay. To tell us this is the time and the venue and nobody did that. So with that information from the two electoral committee members, we assumed it is still going to be in Bali and we all moved to the place in the early morning of the next day. So, we waited and even in Bali, there is no venue but in order to be safe, the chairman of Bali local government, we ask the director of sport to him and he took us to the government lodge for security reasons. So we went straight there and we waited. I think what transpired is something I don’t even know how to explain.
The former chairman has accused you of trying to highjack the football association in Taraba?
Well, about the allegation that I tried to hijacked, I don’t think hijack is a nice word to be used in the same sentence with me because I am not that type of person that will come and do a kangaroo job or try to manipulate or maneuver my way into stardom. I am not that type of person. What we are trying to achieve is that we plan to have a free and fair election and I believe the incumbent chairman knows he has lost his grip on the delegates and that is why he took the measures of getting all the delegates in Jalingo and keeping them in one hotel to accommodate them so that he can make sure he has the complete delegate at hand and that I will have no access to them whatsoever and if I am vying for this position, I have the right to campaign for this delegates and nobody can tell me I have no right to talk to the delegates and unfortunately my right has been pushed aside and this delegates were prevented from having access to even their families which is something I don’t know how to categorize because we tried to reach all the delegates and their phones were switched off from the morning of the day to the election and till the next day after the election because it was after the elections that some of their phones started going through.
What is the current rating of Taraba FC in the national league?
Yes, it has gone down the drain and I can’t even tell you their rating right now and I’m even ashamed to say it here for the press. We know the rating is something we don’t even want to mention and that is a matter of fact.
What are your plans for FC Taraba?
I think if you go around town you will understand that people are now having hopes, most especially the football family in Taraba as a whole because they believe we can do far better. If the football activities can be revived in Taraba, I think FC Taraba will understand that we mean serious business and I think for FC Taraba I have said they have to be at the center of our plan because most of the good players that have we developed, we have to put them through certain system that we can control because you taking players to other states because other states have players that they also needs to develop so there might be limited slot outside but we must have a lot of slot where we can accommodate a lot of players here in Taraba. So we have to revive FC Taraba and make sure things work for us and I believe most of the players I’m privileged to interact with one on one in my previous programmes, the know me and the kind of person I am and I believe that is what even gave most the delegates very good impression about my passion for the game. And I think they know deep down that with me at the helm of affairs, that things will change for the better.

No comments