Former internationals are said to be divided over the choice of the candidate they will support during the Nigeria Judo Federation presidential election in Abuja on June 13.
Sources told our correspondent that the NJF election could be marred by violence as some of the supporters of the various aspirants for the federation’s presidential poll are allegedly prepared to cause trouble at the election venue if the outcome of the election does not go their way.
The immediate past president of the federation Timothy Nsirim and the immediate past vice-president of the body Musa Oshodi are the front-runners for the post.
While some of the ex-players are backing Oshodi for the post, others are rooting for Nsirim. Lagos State Judo Association vice-chairman Emmanuel Gbahabo, who is a former international, is also said to be enjoying support from some of the ex-judokas.
At a stakeholders’ meeting in Abuja recently, our correspondent learnt that the ex-judokas who attended the event agreed to support one of their own during the poll.
Prior to the dissolution of national sports federations by the sports ministry ahead of the next month’s elections, the NJF was enmeshed in leadership crisis with some of the ex-judokas on the board locked in battle with Nsirim, who is a non-judoka.
Former technical director of the federation Aliyu Mohammed, who confirmed the development, ruled out the possibility of Nsirim returning to the top post.
“There was a stakeholders’ meeting which involved most of the ex-judokas and it was agreed that for the sport to move forwards, we need to have a president who is a former international,” Mohammed told our correspondent on the telephone.
“The sport has suffered in the last four years and we cannot continue along that line. The change we need will happen when we have someone who was a judoka and has the experience to direct the affairs of the sport.”
However, a former international and the referee director of the sacked board Alexander De Souza is alleged to be mobilising support for Nsirim as he believes he is still the right man for the job.
De Souza, who refused to confirm his support for Nsirim, however said the federation needs a leader who has the resources to develop judo in the country.
He said, “Having an ex-international as judo president is good but the question is that would he be able to finance the programmes of the federation? What judo needs currently is a person who is connected and can provide the funds to organise competitions as well as take our athletes to competitions.
“An ex-judoka, who is a civil servant, won’t be able to do that but when we have someone who is not an ex-judoka that has the money as president, we can have an ex-judoka as his deputy.
“With my own experience in the sport, I can facilitate competitions to be brought to the country but the funds to host them are not there.”
But a former judoka, Francis Agbaa, disagreed with De Souza De Souza, saying an ex-international should be the president of the NJF.
“Accountants, auditors, doctors, nurses and all other professional bodies elect one of their own to preside over their affairs but judo is the only place where a non-judoka abandons politics to pilot the affairs of an IJF affiliated body,” he said.
“We need a former judoka as the NJF president this time around to ensure that all the mistakes of the last four years are corrected.”