Former Director General (DG) of National Sports Commission (NPC), Amos Adamu, can be said to have experienced first hand, the ups and downs in sports administration, even beyond the shores of Nigeria.
In his checkered history of more than two decades in sports administration, he has made a name for himself as one of the most controversial sports administrators the country has ever produced. From one competition or the other that any of Nigeriaâ€™s teams had participated in, Adamuâ€™s name had become a recurring decimal in the controversies trailing the outings.
He has been described as someone who, in a way, has been hated as much as he is loved. Despite the deluge of criticisms often trailing most of his activities as sports administrator, he had remained undaunted, continuing to wield tremendous influence in the industry.
Incidentally, notwithstanding his acclaimed ability to weather the storms of sports politics Adamu is currently facing the greatest trial of his life.
The man, who became member of the 24-man Executive Committee of the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) is currently in the black book of the world football body.
Adamu was slammed with a three-year ban for reportedly demanding $800,000 (N120 million) bribe to swing votes in favour of some bidding countries for the 2018 and 2022 World Cup tournaments. The sentence was handed on him last Thursday. Aside his suspension from all-football related activities, he was also fined Â£6,300 for breaches of five articles of FIFAâ€™s ethics code, including the one on bribery.
The former DG, who is currently the President of West Africa Sports Union (WASU) walked into his current travails after some undercover reporters from a London-based newspaper, the Sunday Times, posed as lobbyists for a consortium of American companies that wanted to assist in bringing back the World Cup to the United States. Unknown to Adamu, his interaction with them was secretly recorded on tape and video during negotiations.
Though, not alone in the cash-for-vote scandal, as five other officials including another FIFA executive committee member were involved, Adamu who has expressed his innocence, has vowed to launch an appeal against his suspension. He claimed he was innocent of all the charges made against him.
â€œI am profoundly disappointed with the ethics committeeâ€™s findings and had honestly believed I would be exonerated of any charges by nowâ€¦ As yet I have not been advised of the grounds of the ethics committeeâ€™s decision but regardless, I will be lodging a full appeal against it with immediate effect,â€ he affirmed.
Apart from the FIFA ban, the beleaguered sports administrator still has other battles to fight.
In the heat of all this, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has declared that Adamu would be invited for interrogation as soon as he returns to the country.
Sport analysts and public commentators have described the development as sad commentary on Nigeria and Africa in general.
Paul Bassey, the longest serving Nigerian in the Confederation of African Football (CAF), is one of such Nigerians. A member of CAF Media Committee, he noted that it would take about 25 years for Nigeria to get such opportunity again in FIFA, which Adamu blew.
â€œIt is a sad day for Nigerian football. African football is in mourning. It is a tragedy for African football. A three-year ban from football on somebody who has lived all his life literally eating and breathing the game is simply unfortunate. The ban is a total loss for all of us. It is not easy for somebody to go that far to CAF and FIFA. And starting from next month when the process to vote for the host of the 2018 and 2022 World Cup will begin, there will not be a Nigerian vote,â€ Bassey lamented.
Yusuf Ali, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria (SAN), who described the whole scenario as unfortunate, maintained that it has only further confirmed the fact that Nigerians are corrupt.
His words: â€œWhat is happening to Adamu simply confirms to the whole world that Nigerians are corrupt any time, any day and anywhere. Typically of a Nigerian man, Adamu said he is innocent and that he was going to appeal when the other executive member has openly accepted the verdict. But Adamu is claiming innocence. Well, he can only tell that to the marines. I think he should stop insulting Nigerians after bringing shame to them by his act. What is he appealing?â€
Another lawyer with sports background and FIFA licensed playersâ€™ agent, Chris Eseka, toed the line of Ali when he said, â€œAdamuâ€™s decision to appeal the ban is a ploy to buy time and intensify lobby to stave off a fall-out from the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC). By appealing the ban, Adamu is trying to tell us that we should not believe what we have seen and heard from the Sunday Times of London. The evidence against him is very overwhelming.â€
Adamu who is also serving in the highest decision-making body of CAF, the Executive Committee, held sway as DG of NSC for 10 years before being redeployed in November 2008. Prior to his appointment as NSC boss, he was the Director of Sports of the ministry for 10 years.
Believed to have brought live into WAFU since his emergence as its President in 2007, he was appointed the Sole Administrator of the Nigeria Football Association in 1992. Adamu was involved in the administration and organization of the 1999 FIFA World Youth Championship in Nigeria and the Nations Cup in 2000. In December 2000 Adamu was named President for the Organising Committee for the 8th All-Africa Games (COJA), which held in October 2003 in Abuja. Subsequently, there were allegations of corruption against Adamu and other members of COJA, which prompted the late President Umaru Yarâ€™Adua to order his removal as NSC DG on November 6, 2008. The former University Lecturer and Doctorate degree holder in physical and health education hails from Ogbomosho in Oyo State.