Home Business Re-Nigerian Football Referees Are Dying In Silence*

Re-Nigerian Football Referees Are Dying In Silence*



Re-Nigerian Football Referees Are Dying In Silence*

By Kelechi Mejuobi

Ordinarily, it is not in the character of the Nigeria Referees Association, NRA, to respond to all manners of misguided write ups targeted against its members and leadership.

Having noticed the fancy of certain suspected pen mercantilists at always misconstruing activities of the Nigerian Referees, it has become imperative to give the reading public knowledge of the true position than be swayed by the bile of these jaundiced writers.

In recent past, series of cheap blackmail targeted against the leadership of the NRA, orchestrated by a set of mischief makers, have been trailing activities of the NRA.

The most recent piece authored by one David Ngobua, who claimed to have been a referee but retired is one of those jaundiced reports, the association considers necessary to give a response for the purposes of correcting half bake truths and petty lies embedded in the reports, so that the reading public won’t be deceived.

While it is still in doubt about the claims of the said Ngobua about his identity as a “certified but retired football referee” since the NRA has no record of such name as a member for once, other narratives he laid out remain highly fictitious; which is nothing but a careful attempt to malign and defame the hard worn integrity of Nigeria Referees.

It is a known fact that every trade, including sport, has a hazard associated with it, refereeing cannot be divorced from. Beyond the our climes, issues related to attack on referees have remained a global challenge a supposed “never do well” would be forced to quit on a sight of referee being harassed, intimidated or assaulted on the field of play.

Before I delve into petty tissues of lies Ngobua embellished in his commentary, suffice it to note that refereeing is a hobby and not a paid job. Except in few cases, it has always been a hobby members are paid indemnities for matches officiated. Unlike the expression made in the report, members from different professional backgrounds make up the NRA body. Earning a decent living remains one of the criteria for enlistment of referees for handling of NPFL for Ngobua to besmirch NRA with claims that officials depend on his self projected “PR” for survival.

Even as the writer wasn’t specific with names and locations of the shoddy deals he alleged to have been part of the refereeing methodology, it is trite to state that Ngobua may have been a victim of the usual “beer palour” gist and apostle of “hear say” mentality where unfounded fairy tale stories about referees are told.

Without mincing words, Nigerian Referees remain the best when integrity clause checks are applied within the African context. It might interest readers to note that when tsunami based on allegations of fraud hit referees in the continent, no Nigeria referee was involved and named as guilty. The NRA is proud to state that while other sectors in the round leather game face sanctions from world football governing bodies over corruption, referees were not affected. Therefore, one wonders where the Ngobua manufactured such infantile imagination about Nigerian Referees involvement in illicit acts unexpected of them, except maybe from his own grandeur of delusion.

For emphasis sake, there is no hidden the fact that referees are owed match indemnities in the NPFL. It is important to note that similar to the fate of clubs taking part in the league who it was also learnt are yet to get their price monies at the end of the season, members of the NRA handling the NPFL suffer same fate.
Also at the international levels, FIFA referees most times do not get their indemnities immediately after matches before CAF and FIFA clear the accumulated indemnities.

The NRA as the umbrella body of the referees has been strategic partnership with the organisers of the League Management Company, LMC, and the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF. The issue of payment of the outstanding indemnities owed to referees have always dominated discussions during interface between the referees’ body and the NFF. In this regard, the issue of non payment of indemnities gets serious attention during Annual General Meetings and National Executive Council meetings of the NRA where letters and notifications have been severally forwarded to the NFF and LMC for the payment.

Similarly, it is on record that the NFF has also acknowledged the demand from NRA for payment of outstanding indemnities, as it was part of the communique issues at the end of the Federation’s meeting.

Therefore, it is quite absurd and a sheer attempt on the part of Ngobua to call a dog a bad name in other to hang it for him to allege that “the NRA doesn’t take it lightly with any member who remonstrats over non payment of his entitlement”

Maybe, Ngobua and his co-purveyours of falsehood about operations of the referees didn’t know that during the special training program for premier league referees held in July this year, President of the NRA, Otunba Tade Azeez openly asked the NFF and LMC to pay referees their outstanding indemnities before the premier league referees and NFF Officials present during the closing ceremony of the event at the Conference Hall of Chida Hotel, Abuja.

Referees present at the event witnessed a mild drama between the NRA President, Otunba Tade Azeez and NFF General Secretary, Dr Sanusi Mohammed when demand for the outstanding indemnities was made. While Dr Mohammed made calls to the LMC for the payment of indemnities, the NRA President joined too.

How can the leadership of the NRA chide referees for seeking for their indemnities when the President, Otunba Tade Azeez has been the chief complainant to the concerned bodies responsible for the payment?

However, It is also pertinent to note that in the history of the association, this is not the first time referees are owed outstanding indemnities, as the leadership has always applied required modalities to ensure that the payments are made. The referees’ body and concerned authorities responsible for the payment of indemnities are partners in progress who are working out arrangements for the payment of the outstanding indemnities.

On the payment of #20,000 participation fee, it is not a hidden fact in referees circle that those involved in national competitions have always paid to the NFF for fitness test and seminar for organization logistics. Either because Ngobua lacks proper knowledge of referees activities against his claims or is on a mischief, he would have known that far back in 2006, fitness test debuted at the national level, participants from the Northern and Southern States who took part in Benue and Lagos states respectively paid #10,000 each. And since then, each year, participants have always paid for the excercise.

Meanwhile, it is necessary to also note that participation for the Fitness Test and Seminar is neither compulsory nor mandatory for Ngobua to also insinuate witch-hunt against absentees.

For the avoidance of doubt, pre season programs are not exclusively for NPFL matches as it has always been an annual ritual to prepare and ascertain capacity levels of get referees and assessors at the beginning of each season. Apart from the NPFL, there are other national competitions like the Federation’s Cup successful participants are appointed to handel. Again, either Ngobua is economical with the truth or trying to send wrong signals, his informants would have also intimated him that unlike in the past where participants pay and also take care of their accomodation, this time decent hotel provisions have been made for the referees and assessors who will take part in the pre season programs.

The NRA enjoins uninformed commentators to always get correct briefs about operations of referees before presenting a coloured report to the public.

Kelechi Mejuobi is the National Publicity Secretary, NPS, of the Nigeria Referees Association, NRA.



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