I have a couple of things to write about this morning starting with NNL club, Vandrezzer FC and the sports journalist that was arrested yesterday in Akwa Ibom State in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before I abandon my home training, good morning and welcome to a brand new blog on The Athletic NG Daily, how are you doing, I trust you are well and hearty. Let’s get on with it then.
Today’s blog will be divided into sub-heads. Yesterday I wrote about the Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, and the $150 million given by FIFA to member federations to share as palliative for the rampaging coronavirus. If you haven’t had the opportunity to read about that, the link is here.
1. Suspension of contract and other financial obligations by Vandrezzer FC
First of all, let me state categorically here that, Vandrezzer FC is one of the best managed football club in Nigeria, as a matter of fact, it is the best managed football club in the country. The team was established last year (September 2019) and is privately owned. VFC are setting standards on how a professional football club should look like in Nigeria. They have fully transformed their adopted home of Ikot Ekpene Township Stadium, which was abandoned by the government into a standard football ground with world-class equipments.
This is a club that has prided itself with the best media team in the country, constantly engaging fans and opponents on their social media handles as well as being the first team in the NNL to own a website and also being the second in the whole of Nigeria to do so, after Akwa United.
Their achievements in just over 6 months is a testament to how poor our football league is. But despite these media hype and flamboyant lifestyle by the club, they failed to manage a piece of communication which has now leaked out to the public and is threatening to spoil everything they’ve built.
Last night, The Athletic NG published a report about how Vandrezzer suspended contract agreements with players and other staff due to the effect of the coronavirus. That is not the bad thing considering their status and looking at the fact that these players and backroom staff have been receiving their salaries in the last four months despite the NNL suspended since December 2019. Suspending their salaries to me is not great at this point, because these people have families and football may be their only source of income. It would have been more reasonable and understanding to request the players take a pay cut as it is done in saner climes.
All the same, the deed has already been done and it is left for the club to clean their mess.
2. Kufre Carter
I listened to a phone conversation which was made public between a sports journalist, Kufre Carter, who is a presenter with XL 106.9FM in Uyo. The discussion was with a medical doctor, from the tone, you’ll say the doctor is a member of the Nigerian Medical Association, NMA, on the going show of shame going on in Akwa Ibom State between the Commissioner for Health, NMA and the COVID-19 team.
Why am I writing about this? It is because it may have been me on the other end of the conversation. I ventured into journalism through the print media, moved to radio as a sports presenter and also presented other programs, before my enthusiastic self brought me to online, writing for online news website and then blogging here.
First of all, every citizen is entitled to his or her own opinion, it is our right to ask questions on what government are doing, especially when you sense that something is not going as it should be.
I am one of those that strongly advocates for constructive criticism, which is why Kufre Carter is currently chilling off at the SSS office. His lawyer and human right activist, Barr Inibehe Effiong said he is being tortured in a bid to get a “confessional statement” from his client.
The attorney also alleged that Carter is arrested on the orders of the Akwa Ibom State government. But his client failed to manage a piece of information that was shared with him in a proper way and the repercussion might be expensive for the young man. This morning, his employers, XL FM issued a statement distancing themselves from his actions and also said further disciplinary action will be taken against him.
I mean, that is enough trouble for a young man. The moral is, while the state government seems autocratic in their dealing with citizens who dare to speak up on the coronavirus crisis, which is a disaster by any standard, there are different avenues to channel a report, not leaking the audio conversation.
Let me stop here before they order for my arrest.
3. AKSG and COVID-19
Having said all that in the last point, it is important as a people and government to start treating coronavirus as a threat to public health. States like Lagos who is the epicentre of this pandemic in Nigeria have realized that this is not a joke and are testing more people which is why the state is currently running away with the COVID championship title.
It is very clear that in Akwa Ibom and other parts of the country, the government are not doing enough testing to help those who are with the virus. Some are even suggesting that all the information given about this virus are not true and as a result, people are careless about precautionary measures to help curb the spread of the virus.
All this English I am writing boils down to all of us, government, groups and individuals taking responsibilities in the fight against this pandemic so that businesses and economy can start working again to ease the pressure in the country.
We want to see sports and other things returning to our stadiums and screens, let’s be civil and accept the responsibility of staying at home and avoiding crowded places. The rules are simple: wash your hands with soap in a running water, use alcohol-based sanitizer to clean your hands, keep social distancing with people and extend the distance with those who are showing symptoms like cough, sneezing and others.
Most importantly stay at home to stay alive.
That’s all from me today. Sorry about the political and medical nature of today’s blog. Till tomorrow, have a good one.
Copyright 2020 The Athletic NG. Permission to use this article or any part of it is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.theathletic.com.ng as the source.