A sitting member of the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly , Rt. Hon. Nse Udofot Essien won election into the NFF Executive Committee at the elective congress on September 30, 2022 .
Essien and Aisha Falode polled 19 and 13 votes respectively to be sworn in as NFF Executive Committee members representing the South South Zone on the Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau led board.
In this report, Nsikakabasi Akpan presents excerpts of Rt. Hon. Nse Essien’s live radio interview on Comfort 95.1fm Uyo with George Iniabasi Essien on Tuesday October 4, 2022.
The Nigeria Football Federation board member narrates how he defied underdog tag to get on the Federation board and his plans for Grassroots Football development .
ON HIS LAST MINUTE DECISION TO CONTEST
” I knew they were a lot of Obstacles I need to surmount but when you’re so determined, God will perfect everything that concerns you.
” I took a bold step of faith into the race . I went to Abuja , bought the form on the last day for collection of forms.
” I can assure you that i was not given any chance by human beings but I had God and with God all things are possible . ”
UNCERTAINTIES SURROUNDING THE CONDUCT OF THE ELECTION ON SEPTEMBER 30
Due to a court injunction which prompted a circular from the Sports Ministry urging the NFF not to go ahead with the conduct of the elections on September 30 , Essien acknowledged he had doubts the excercise will go ahead as planned.
He said ” There were doubts whether the election will hold or not because of the court case. I must acknowledge I had doubts if the election will take place on September 30 . ”
” I drove myself to Benin City on Wednesday (September 28) and the vacation by the Appeal court arrived on Thursday morning for the election to go ahead on Friday .”
THE INDOMITABLE SUPPORT BASE , MOBILLIZERS AND THE CAMPAIGN
Unlike other aspirants who had long began campaigns for the NFF elections , Essien a last minute entrant to the race had less than a day to garner the support of congressmen for his Candidature.
” I started the campaigns on Thursday night when my mobillizers and canvassers arrived . ”
” I had support from the Akwa Ibom State FA Vice Chairman , the FA Chairman Hon. Imo Attat was already in Benin , Pastor Brown was there , Efiok Hanson and Prince Udofia travelled all the way from the North .
” The Honourable Commissioner for Youths and Sports was there for me , Elder Paul Bassey and even the Governor supported me .”
THE UNDERDOG TAG
Put aside his position in Macro Politics , it was Essien’s first outing in Nigeria Football Federation politics so he was a relatively unknown name .
Even news of his nomination form purchase carried on several news platforms (excluding SportsRation) carried ‘ Underdog Nse Essien joins NFF Executive Committee race .’
The Onna born Lawmaker cum Sports administrator enjoyed the underdog tag and explains why in his comments .
” I went into the contest as an underdog. I like being underrated because it is when I am underated that I spring up surprises .
” So after the ballot for the Presidency , our brothers from the North asked for praying time .
” There was serious tension but I was calm because I did well with my presentation .
” I told them what I have done before and what I am going to do . They were actually satisfied but on elections day, you never know what to expect.
” People had built blocs and alliances over the years . I was an outsider as Aisha Falode and Barr. Pouben were favorites to emerge from the zone (South-South).” He said.
Despite his underdog tag , Essien true to his nickname ” Indomitable ” defied the odds to not only win one of the two available seats , he emerged top .
He narrated ” In the first ballot , the Bayelsa man (Barr. Pouben) had 15 votes . I overheard someone in the gallery say Indomitable, ”
” So I said ‘Wow’ I could be in . I had 10 votes , Aisha Falode had 6 votes , the Cross River man had 3 votes and Jared from Edo also had 3 votes . ”
Rt. Hon Essien pulled clear of the rest in the second ballot . A total of 19 congressmen voted in his favour . 13 voted for Aisha Falode who edged Barrister Pouben to join Essien on the board.
In his words the result was ” Incredible, Nigerians were shocked .”
THE DICIEST: NFF ELECTIONS OR MACRO POLITICS
” I can tell you authoritatively this is (NFF election) the diciest of elections I have seen , ” Essien said.
” In the Macro politics , anytime you know that this unit doesn’t support your ambition, you work and do permutations , but this one (NFF elections) there are blocs and when I broke in people were asking ‘ Who is this one ? ” .
AFTER THE ELECTIONS , HIS PLANS TOWARDS THE GROWTH OF FOOTBALL
” Grassroots football development. Football is played by the young people and so let’s go back to the basics .
” The people in the rural areas, they don’t have opportunity . So we ask , where did we get it wrong ?, We used to have the Principals cup , we need to go back there .
” The secondary schools need to play this games , the talents are there . I don’t say things i cannot do and I know how to get the funds for this , we have a lot of companies making money here , so we will approach them for support . ” Essien said .
He may have been a stranger in the politics of football at the NFF elections but Rt. Hon. Essien has loads of experience from donkey years in Sports administration with his club FC ONE Rockets .
Essien who also chairs the Akwa Ibom State House of Assembly Committee on Sports is determined to ensure Nigerian football is developed from the basics , a plan he says drove his decision to vie for a seat on the NFF Executive Committee.
His vision for Grassroots Football development aligns with the message from the newly elected NFF President Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau as released by the NFF Communications department.
Gusau promised amongst other things to work towards the development of football in Nigeria from the grassroots .