By Solomon Odeniyi
The proposed plan by the State Government of Osun to disband its football teams, Osun United and Osun Babes has been generating controversies among sport lovers and associations within and outside the state.
Osun Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Mr. Yemi Lawal had on Tuesday disclosed that the state government would disband Osun United and Osun Babes as part of the ongoing restructuring programmes in the Sport Council.
According to Lawal, who spoke with Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, Osun chapter, Governor Adegboyega Oyetola had approved the disbandment of the teams and re-registering of the clubs with the Corporate Affairs Commission.
Lawal was reacting to a petition written against him and the Acting General Manager of Osun Sports Council, Rotimi Dumoye by some sport lovers over the appointment of Sport Coordinators in all the 31 Local Governments and Area Council in the state.
He said: “As a result of the petition, the governor has graciously approved that we should disband anything called contract staffs and athletes and we should stop payments to anything called board as well as players of Osun United and Osun Babes.
“There is need for serious restructuring. We are also going as far as re-registering the clubs with the Cooperate Affairs Commission. It will not be business as usual.”
But the National Association of Nigeria Professional Footballers has kicked against the plan, demanding for clarification for the sack of Osun United and Osun Babes Teams from the state government.
NANPF, in a letter directed to the state’s Director of Sports, said it was not a good idea to take unilateral decision to sack the players without following due process, describing it as unacceptable.
Dated July 8, 2020 and signed by General Secretary of the association, Austin Popo on behalf of the National President, Tijani Babangida, the letter reads: “Information available to our union suggest that the management of your football clubs, Osun United and Osun Babes have sacked the entire players and officials of both clubs without following due process as contained in the relevant provision of the rule of the Nigeria National League and the Women Professional Football League.
“Taking unilateral decision to sack players without following due process is not a good idea, and totally unacceptable by the players union.
“Our further investigation suggests that there was no pre-notification meeting between club’s management and players and coaches to discuss your actions, contrary to the basic principle of guiding the protection of workers’ rights.
“It is equally important to draw your attention to the fact that every professional player either in the NNL or in the Women Professional League is under a contract of minimum one year in accordance with the leagues regulations. We are just in the seventh month of the year. In other words, our understanding is that players still have a subsisting contract with your club.
“We therefore, for the sake of industrial peace and harmony, call for a meeting of all relevant stakeholders to resolve the issue amicably without compromising the right of players and officials of the clubs.”
Besides, the appointment of Sport Coordinators, which is said to have replaced Contract Coaching and Athlete Department of the Sports Council, has been generating controversies as sport lovers have described as political and alien to the structures of sports in the state.
Some sport lovers who spoke under the aegis of Concerned Citizens of the state, said the Sport Coordinators appointment was to service some members of the Social Democratic Party (SDP), adding that some of the appointed people are not from Osun.
The group, in a petition against the appointment alleged: “The list shows the desperation of Yemi Lawal and Rotimi Dunmoye, Acting General Manager, Osun State Sports Council to install the structure of SDP in the Governor Adegboyega Oyetola’s administration whether by truth or by crook.
“He has also succeeded in recruiting his SDP and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) youths across the state under the pretence of Sports Coordinators and sends away youths of All Progressives Congress (APC) extraction that have been working for the Sports Council for several years.
“It will amaze you that there is nothing like Sports Coordinators in the organogram of the Osun State Sports Council. This implies that what they did is illegal, but was hiding on the instruction that Mr. Governor has given him go ahead.
“Some of the appointed Sports Coordinators are working with other organizations and even living in Ibadan, yet Yemi Lawal recruited them because they are the ones they are recruiting for the next election in 2022 against our great party, APC especially the Local Government Election coming up soon.”
Reacting, the Commissioner for Sports described the people condemning the appointment as disgruntled elements, who are not happy with the restructuring exercise being carried out in the Sports Council.
According to him, the appointees were not selected based on political reasons, saying that the selected persons were those who had high scores in the selection test conducted for them by members of the committee instituted for that purpose.
He stated that the petitions had yielded fruits, as it had afforded the ministry the opportunity to rebuild sports in the state.
Lawal said: “While trying to restructure things, there were outcries from some disgruntled elements and believe that what they perceived as their birthright had been taken away from them.
“The petition had given birth to a new era. I am happy such a petition went out. It has given us the room to start from the scratch. It is like a situation of demolishing a house that had been defected. All along we had been trying to patch and as we did, it kept giving new defects.”