A great milestone was on Thursday, 22nd December, 2022, recorded in the quest of the leadership of the Nigeria Referees Association, NRA, gaining a better working relationship with the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, for the good of football in Nigeria with particular concern to the welfare of referees.
Apart from the issue of establishment of strategic partnership between the NRA and NFF to take football in Nigeria to greater height, the crux of the meeting concentrated on payment of outstanding Match Indemnities, as well as improvement of welfare packages for referees in the coming season.
Available detail of the meeting has it that the NFF President, Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau, who led the eggheads from the football house, comprising the Chairman of the NFF Referees Committee; Alhaji Inuwa Rabiu (Ahlan), and General Secretary, Dr Sanusi Mohammed, assured the NRA that he will be an advocate of better welfare packages and conducive refereeing climate for match officials. The NFF President assured that apart from protection of referees, structures for safety of officials at match venues shall be put in place to avoid attacks on them at match venues.
While appreciating the NRA for honouring his invitation despite the short notice for the meeting, Alhaji Gusau said he will start a new chapter in the NFF by ensuring that no league match can be played without referees Indemnities. He disclosed that the NFF has concluded arrangements to pay all backlogs of match Indemnities owed referees on instalment basis while pleading with the NRA Leadership to allow the commencement of the new season based on this understanding and regular payments for the leagues.
Alhaji Gusau offered a cheering news to gentlemen of the whistle when he promised to increase referees’ match Indemnities to an acceptable standard.
However, the NFF President didn’t hesitate to issue warning signal to the effect that heavy sanctions shall be handed to referees appointed for a match and found wanting in the course of discharging his or her duties.
Another heartwarming assurance Alhaji Gusau handed the NRA leadership was that all Match Appointments shall henceforth be released on time to enable appointed Match Officials arrive match venues on time and be physically and mentally prepared to honour their matches.
Earlier in his speech, NRA President Otunba Tade Azeez on behalf of the association congratulated Alhaji Gusau on his election and expressed happiness for the meeting.
Otunba Tade reeled out numerous challenges referees in Nigeria have encountered and still facing which includes irregular payment of Match Indemnities, breakdown of security at match venues leading to attacks on referees as well as late release of match appointments to NRA members.
The NRA President assured the NFF President and members of the Federation that his members are turbo-charged to do their best always for the progress of football. He, however assured the NFF that the new riot act shall be communicated to members of the NRA.
In the NRA leadership team to the meeting was the Deputy President, Hon Sani Zubairu (Fifa Retired) and Dr Suleiman Omezia, the Secretary General.
Others were Dr Aminu Shantali and Rtd Fifa Ibrahim Umar Fagge; Deputy National Training Officer and North West Zonal Coordinator respectively, including the chairman of Sokoto State Council, Bello Abubakar.
The meeting ended on a good note with both parties expressing optimism for better days ahead.
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