On this afternoon(Monday) as the sky threatened to open up with showers of rain, Popular News put a call through to Sabina Chikere, the Permanent Secretary (PS) of the Edo State Sports Commission (ESSC) to book a meeting with her to discuss the rumble that the forthcoming election into the board of the state football association (FA) has generated. She promptly obliged as she disclosed that she was in her office at that point having a meeting with some officials of a sports federation.
In less than 10 minutes yours truly was in the reception lounge of her office situated at the ultramodern Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium in Benin City. A brief wait for her to be done with her engagement and pronto I was led into her presence in her massive office space. After exchange of pleasantries and not showing much sign of tiredness from the previous lengthy meeting she had, the soft spoken and delectable damsel was ready for the barrage of questions that your soar away Popular News had for her.
What do you have to say about the allegations that you have been interfering in the planned election into the board of the Edo State FA?
“Whoever wants to go and buy forms should do so and whoever wants to contest should go ahead and face the electoral committee. We are ready to work with anyone that emerges victorious in the election.”
Also we were informed that you insist that you can only work with anybody from the Edo North District. How true is this?
“I never said that the only person that I can work with must be from Edo North. I can never say such a thing. Edo FA is Edo FA. They have their statutes and other things guiding how they operate. Whoever feels he is ripe to contest and become the FA boss should go buy the form and contest with his mates. There is no way that we can interfere in their activities. Everybody knows the statutes of the FA. You can go and find out from the NFF(Nigeria Football Federation). Nobody can interfere. We are not interfering.
“I don’t even know when they’re going to hold their election. Let them go and conduct their election. If you know that you’re ready, that you can deliver on the mandate of the Edo State Government go and buy forms, tell everybody what you have to offer, go and contest. I have not told anybody anything, neither have I discussed about the election with anybody. I don’t have time to discuss with anybody. We have a mandate in the sports commission given by the Edo State Government. That’s what we’re doing.
“Edo FA is an autonomous body. They have the way that they do their own things. I think there are some people that are so scared of themselves. They don’t believe in themselves. If you believe in yourself and know what you can do go out there and fight it out. It is very funny. Somebody will just sit down and begin to cook up stories that are not there just to tarnish somebody’s image. Whoever wants to contest should go and contest. They should stop peddling rumours. If they have complains they know where to channel their issues to. Let them go there, sort themselves out and stop calling my name everywhere. I don’t have any business with Edo FA election. I am the Permanent Secretary of the Edo Sports Commission and that’s what I am doing.”
Shed more light on the case of one Tony Owens allegedly from Delta State that’s been nudged to contest for the Edo FA chairmanship position.
“I don’t know what they’re talking about. The Edo State Sports Commission is to give Secretaries and Secretaries were given. We have an Executive Director who is in charge of that. I don’t know what they’re talking about. Tony is from Edo State. He is a staff of the Edo State Sports Commission.”
Media Officer of the Bendel Insurance FC of Benin, Kehinde Osagiede, who was close by during the chat made his contribution.
“A committee for the state FA election has been put in place. It is headed by Dr. Darlington Obaseki, Chief Medical Director(CMD) of the University of Benin Teaching Hospital (UBTH). The first thing that they have to do is the local government board which they have not done. From FIFA and NFF statutes they have to start from the local government and they have not done that.
“So, why is somebody complaining of anybody trying to manipulate anything? I think that what they should be interested in if they have any issue they have to go to the electoral committee to complain. If the electoral committee is not responding they can then complain to the Sports Commission. If the date for the sale of forms has elapsed and they’re still selling the form they should ask for the reason for that.
“I understand that from time to time they have been holding stakeholders meeting to discuss it. The Permanent Secretary and the Chairman of the Sports Commission are not involved in their meetings. Even me, as a media person here, I have never been involved in their meetings except they invite me to support their media person. That’s how we work here. If you bring anybody from anywhere if you’re not qualified they disqualify you. They know themselves.
“At a time the Permanent Secretary (PS) contested to be a member of the board she didn’t win because as some of them said ‘she is from the side of the state government.’ They didn’t support her. The point I am making is that those making these allegations are not fair, they are not honest. They should go straight to the point and meet the FA board and also the electoral committee.”