Haba Mallam Shehu Dikko! 2020/21 NPFL Season Best Ever?
You must blow your own trumpet because there is a big chance that others will not do it for you.
That is most certainly what the Chairman of the League Management Company (LMC), Shehu Dikko, chose to do at a public relations circus he staged to review the past Nigeria Premier Football League (NPFL) season this week.
Like we have often heard from organisers of the Olympics and World Cups, the quantity surveyor-turned-football-administrator also opted to go on a massive ego trip when taking stock of what his company “achieved” this past season.
“Technically it was the best League, not just in the NPFL history, but since the start of professional football league in Nigeria,” Shehu Dikko boasted while reeling out the statistics that best served his self-serving declaration.
These are the statistics he gloated over –
*380 matches, 288 matches were won, 92 were drawn. 791 goals were scored, an average of 2.8 goals per match.”
“It is the highest statistics of goals that we have ever had in the league.”
“352 home wins were recorded, 36 away victories, the highest away victories in the history of the league.”
“92 matches where drawn, it is also the highest.”
“Total numbers of penalties awarded this is 81, compared to other seasons where we have over 100 it shows the referees also did well.”
One wonders when did it become a feat for fewer penalties to be awarded in a contact sport like football?
This was simply a PR stunt as reporters were requested not to be confrontational or negative in their questioning.
Shehu Dikko was therefore at ease to gloss over the many fundamental problems confronting the domestic league, like lack of sponsorships, shrinking local interest, hooliganism, questionable disciplinary sanctions, poor welfare and contract breaches affecting players.
The LMC launched the NPFL TV, a streaming service to broadcast live matches, amid wild claims that this venture will earn the league over 18 Billion Naira from subscribers.
So, how many billions were generated in the first season of this, sir?
There was also the much-talked about Next TV deal and then the Red Strike contract, which were meant to bring in the cash so desperately needed by the clubs and players.
No questions about these marketing controversies. Good boys, thanks for your co-operation so far.
With the lack of sponsors, what is now the financial situation of the company entrusted with running the country’s foremost football championship?
This is when it is known that the LMC remains hugely indebted to the referees and it was left for the clubs to take up these costs as was the case far back in the 90s.
Secretariat staffers are still owed many months’ salaries, so too a long list of other suppliers of the LMC.
Has the prize money been paid to champions Akwa United as well as what was paid the 19 other clubs who featured in the NPFL this past season?
The little matter of how the LMC handled disciplinary issues in the course of the season again left a sour taste in the mouth.
Kano Pillars and Katsina United were treated with kid gloves even after their unruly fans took the laws into their hands, destroying public property and endangering human life.
Is that also in the spirit of the so-called Rule Book, a bad cut-and-paste job of what is obtainable in the Premier League in England?
The decision by the LMC to let off Jigawa Golden Stars for fielding an ineligible player in their home win over Rivers United was already rubbished by the NFF Disciplinary Committee and, as expected, suffered same fate at the Appeals Committee.
That dubious decision by the LMC almost threw the NPFL final outcome into total chaos.
Another question Chairman Shehu Dikko – Has the new Chief Executive of the league, Davidson Owumi, resumed as directed by the NFF?
If not, what is holding back this appointment?
Or is there no longer a vacancy?
It is understandable that Shehu Dikko desperately wishes to remain relevant in the football polity on account of his personal ambition and the fact that the NFF Elections are just a year away.
But he ought to be mindful that many have long since seen through his uncountable gimmicks and they will no longer fall for them, now or even next year.
Empty claims won’t cut even with the gullible Congress.