Veteran football coach, Niyi Akande believes picking Alhaji Fatai Olayinka as his replacement for the post of General Manager of Nigeria Premier League side, Crown FC of Ogbomoso amounts to administrative gaffe. To Akande, Olayinka lacks the moral grounds to manage the club because of alleged unresolved financial issues. Olayinka meanwhile, insists Akande is in no position to query him, daring Akande to approach the appropriate quarters the police if he can prove his points.
Players and officials of Crown Football Club of Ogbomoso, Oyo State should be grinning from ear-to-ear having won promotion back to the country’s elite cadre, the Nigeria Professional League (NPL).
This was not the case in Ogbomoso, until the intervention of the state’s Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Farouk Umar-Alao who called a meeting of stakeholders of the club to know why a successful group bore in-house acrimony.
Niyi Akande, the man who was Crown General Manager until February 20, 2014, when his appointment was terminated, did not hide his feelings.
‘‘I told the commissioner that there was somebody there at the meeting, who has been defrauding the club and the state government-Alhaji Fatai Olayinka- whose contract as a consultant to the club has expired since 2011,’’ Akande informed Tribunesport.
Olayinka has since been named as a replacement of Niyi Akande.
‘‘In the 2010-2011 season, Olayinka transfered Harrison Egbuna to Sunshine Stars for the sum of N1.5m. I am quite sure of what I am saying and through my investigation, I discovered that the money was lodged into his account at a first-generation bank in Port Harcourt. When he was asked where the money was, he replied that he had used the money to offset the debt owed him by the state government in the course of his consultancy job for the club.’’
Olayinka, however, takes exception to Akande’s allegation.
‘‘I shouldn’t be matching words with Coach Akande, I have heard all he had been saying on radio and television. People have been telling me not to respond to his allegations but in this clime, some people take silence for admission of guilt.’’
Akande also said when the allegation of Olayinka’s contract having expired three years ago came up at the meeting, Umar-Alao called for Olayinka’s file and asked Olayinka why he was claiming refunds from Oyo State government when he had no existing contract with Crown.
‘‘The next thing I heard after the commissioner’s poser was the announcement of Olayinka as the club’s General Manager’.
Akande, meanwhile, says that Olayinka does not merit being in Crown FC’s set-up, not to talk of him being elevated to the post of the General Manager.’’
‘‘Egbuna is back in Crown, and I asked him how much was paid on him by Sunshine when he left Crown, he replied that he was told that a sum of N1m was paid. Somebody at the meeting (with the commissioner) later told me she gathered that N1.2m was paid on Egbuna. Whether N1.5m, N1.2m or N1m, the fact is that nothing was paid into the club’s coffers’’.
Akande added that if Egbuna’s transfer fee has generated controversy, that of former Crown FC player Laitan Otubanjo to Spain is still shrouded in mystery.
‘‘Things like this should not go on without somebody asking questions, ‘‘Akande agitates.
Replying, Olayinka said: ‘‘Akande is a coach, he shouldn’t dabble into administrative issues. If he has a case of fraud established against me let him call the police. I am sure I will be interrogated and I will then have to explain. Akande is a coach of almost forty years’ standing and I have been in football administration for over thirty years. I insist it is better for him to call in police investigators’’.
On the issue of expired contract, Olayinka insisted that he is still with Crown FC of Ogbomosho because the Oyo State government still finds him relevant to the club.
‘‘I can not be smarter than the Oyo State government which still finds me relevant to the club’’.
Olayinka also believes that Akande should not raise issues with him.
‘‘Our scope of performance is different, he is a coach and I am an administrator, he has no right to question me over the post of a General Manager, I have registered my renewed contract with the Ministry of Justice, the copy of the receipt of which was issued by WEMA Bank’’.
Akande also accused Olayinka of impersonating him at the 2013 Super 4 pre-season football competition, parading himself as Crown’s Club manager by wearing the identity card bearing NIYI OLAYINKA, a combination of Akande’s initial and Olayinka’s surname, an accusation Olayinka simply laughed off.
‘‘Because of emergencies at the Super 4, there were so many misnormers at the registration and accreditation of officials, Olayinka said’’. There were some whose names were incorrectly spelt, there were identity cards with no photographs and series of mistakes. Granted there was a mix-up in his names, was his photograph not on the identity card? Who in Nigerian football does not know that Niyi Akande is different from Fatai Olayinka? He is just being funny.’’
Akande also has issues with recruitment policy of Olayinka, then as consultant.
‘‘Crown is an Ogbomoso side, a Yoruba team, but Olayinka went and brought in a Technical Adviser in Lawrence Akpokona, a Delta-Igbo, who brought in 17 Igbo boys for screening and registered all. I challenged him (Akpokona) and asked him how many Yoruba players were in the team? The man, Akpokona, was a player when I was coaching and honestly he gives me my due respect but what I am saying is that by the grace of God I am elder in the coaching profession in Oyo State, so I have to defend my younger colleagues who deserve to be given opportunity in teams like Crown.’’
Olayinka agreed that the Technical Adviser was brought in without the consent of Akande but that it was within his area of authority then as club consultant to Crown to recruit a seasoned technocrat for the team.
‘‘We wanted a coach who will talk to the players and they will listen, not the type players will argue with. If you look at the history of Akpokona, you will recall that he worked with almost all the foreign coaches that came to Nigeria in the early 2000s. We want the best for Crown and we believe Akpokona can give us the results we need’’.
Akande is bitter by his removal as General Manager of Crown by the Oyo State government, saying that the decision did not allow him to reap where he had sown.
‘‘I worked with Crown for seven years as chief coach, Technical Adviser and General Manager, I have worked in so many parts of the country and when it was time for me to enjoy the fruits of my labour, moreso in my hometown, then I was asked to go.
‘‘I don’t want to be cheated, if you note the tone of the letter of termination of contract, the opening paragraph was effusive in praise of me, after such commendation, how could they just ask me to go?’’
Akande, meanwhile, says the Oyo State government should pay him an outstanding sum owed him totalling N1,688,580.00-(one million, six hundred and eighty-eight thousand and five hundred and eighty naira) and allow him enjoy life after 36 years of meritorious coaching.
‘‘What can N20,000 do for a pensioner like me?’’ he asked.
‘I don’t want to be treated the way of Joseph Ladipo and Sam Ojebode, they took away their jobs from them and they died because they had nothing to do.’’
However, Umar-Alao said the Oyo State government was not interested in taking appointment from Akande but that the coach simply rejected government’s offer of a fresh challenge where his experience could be tapped.
‘‘Having recognised the contribution of coach Akande, we felt there was another way where he could be useful to the state and we asked him to conduct coaching clinics for aspiring footballers in the state but he said he was not interested,’ ‘‘Alao told Tribunesport.
This Akande vehemently denied.
‘‘I swear by God that nothing of such was tabled before me. I am aware the sports commissioner has good plans, he is a young man, but we have to get rid of certain elements for sports to make progress in the state’’.