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Stakeholders, Sponsors, Behind Our Success- Ocheho, HFN CTC Chair

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Race for elections into sports federation for another four years tenure is around the corner with stakeholders already in subtle campaign and negotiations.

Immediate past President and current Caretaker Committee Chairman, Handball Federation of Nigeria, HFN, Samuel Ocheho, while reeling out his scorecard, on the sideline of the recently concluded National U-12, U-15 boys and girls handball championship held in Sokoto, opened up to ADENIYI OLUGBEMI, in this interview, on his aspiration to re-contest for the coveted seat.

Q. Prior to your emergence as President, Handball Federation of Nigeria, not much is known about you, kind take us through a run down of your antecedence, in the game of handball?

A. If you say much is not known about me before my emergence as President, Handball Federation of Nigeria, HFN, It is probably because I am not a moneybag or someone who crave for undue publicity. My antecedent in the game of handball is dated to my playing days as a player in Lagos State, I also played for Plateau state and the University of Jos, as a captain of the University handball team right from my second year.

Three months after completing the NYSC programme, I got a job in the banking sector and that, abruptly put paid to my playing career as a handball player. However, I did not turned my back to handball, because of my love for the game, I went into it administration as a board member of Lagos State Handball Association and rose to became the Chairman. After my tenure as Chairman, Lagos State Handball Association, I still get involved, to the extent that, I attend every competition and fraternize with all stakeholders. To confirm that I am not a passive stakeholder, I have been organizing the biennial Samuel Ocheho International invitation tourney since 2012, before the board decided to adapt it in 2018 as a Federation programme.

My emergence was not a fluke as there was earlier plans to brought me on board but, I declined basically because, I want to attain a certain status in the private sector, until the last election which was God appointed time for me to emerged President of the Federation, and to where we are today as Chairman, Caretaker Committee, for the HFN.

Q. Before your election in 2017, a lots of power play and intrigues bedevilled the Federation, how did you emerged amidst the high wired politicking that ensued?

A. You were absolutely right that the Federation was bogged down with lots of issues particularly by the veterans group, who championed the cause against the Federation President then. The situation was so bad, that it degenerated into court case. Among the three of us that indicated interest to reposition the Federation, most of the stakeholders saw me as a God sent. The elections took place and I won. In all modesty, I will like to point out here, that my emergence as the President of HFN, was a calming effect to the whole issues boggling the affairs of the Federation and the game or handball in Nigeria because, people who are agitated dropped their arms and sheath their sword.

Q. How eventful was your tenure as President, HFN?

A. To the glory of God and immense support from all stakeholders, it was an eventful tenure with lots of activities. Immediately we were inaugurated on June 21, 2017, the entire board of the Federation went into a two-day retreat, to chart the way forward. The remaining part of the year was spent on reconciliation among contending stakeholders in the game of handball.

Highlights from the retreat was the composition of committees for National championships, International championships, Coaching and Technical events. Our target was, to return the game to the grassroots, ensure the return of all our championships, empower our technical people with the right capacity and knowledge, create employment through handball, ensure Nigeria return to the top echelon of handball in Africa and return handball to it position as the second most popular team sports behind football.

At the beginning of 2018, we rolled out our plans with the National U-12 and U-15 youth championship held in Lagos and, since then, we had not looked back. All our planned age grade programmes from U-12, U-15, U-18 to U-21, the Division One League and the Premier Handball League, all in the male and female categories, without gender bias in cash prizes, ran smoothly.

The last four years have been eventful. We have been able to raise the level of activities in the board to a level that the game of handball is beginning to receive national attention again. Across the continent and the International Handball Federation, Nigeria is gradually regaining her lost glories.

Q. Your scorecard?

A. At the home front, the Federation successfully executed all its planned programmes, we attract sponsorship for some of our flagship competitions. Sokoto state benevolence of a coaster bus donation to the Federation, made us the envy of other federations as the only proud owner of a coaster bus. Our online presence significantly improved compared to what we met on assumption of office. Today, we live stream our championship on Facebook for the world to see our matches. These modest achievements did not go unnoticed as the organisers of the Nigeria Sports Award recognize and bestowed on me, The 2019 Best Sports Administrator Award. Our plans to pay more attention to the grassroots, will start to yield fruitful results soon.

We no doubt, have loads of achievements, that have earned us kudos and thumb up from every stakeholders in the game of handball. This however, did not blur our vision because, we are out to leave a worthy legacy. One of our major goals is to be the best in Africa, though we are not there yet, but we plan to get there. On the international scene, the Federation under my leadership restored Nigeria back into international competitions that the country had not been participating over decades.

We are back into the International Handball Federation, IHF, recognized tournaments, where we qualified Nigeria for the Junior Men World Championship after over thirty two years. Same for the Youth World Cup for the first time since inception in 2005. The Federation under my leadership returned home with the gold medals at Zone 111 Africa IHF Men’s Junior and Cadets in Niger Republic and winners of the IHF trophy by the Male Cadets and Men’s Junior national team.

Our various age grade national teams also returned home with bronze medals from the Junior Nation’s Cup and Africa Youth championship respectively, held in Marrakech, Morocco. Same at the 3rd African Youth Games in Algeria and at the IHF Challenge Trophy International in Kosovo, for youth cadre.

Q. Federation elections is around the corner, would you say, you have done enough to justify the confidence stakeholders reposed in you, four years ago and should be handed the driver seat of the Handball Federation of Nigeria, again?

A. The scorecard of the Handball Federation under my leadership as President, is in the public domain and I can confidently blow my trumpet that, the Federation have positively impacted on the game.We are able to secure a five years deal with Prudent Energy and Services Limited, with option of renewal, as the sponsor of the Handball Premier League, secured three years sponsorship by the Sokoto state government for the U-12, U-15 boys and girls handball championship and lately, a four-year hosting rights for the Division One League by the Edo state government. The Federation is immensely grateful to Diosk Nigeria Limited that donated five million nairas for the national team trip to the World Cup.

Back to your question, when the time comes, I will proudly present myself to lead the federation for another four years, to consolidate on what we have been able to achieve collectively, so far. Talking from the vantage point of view, there is still more to do, in developing the game of handball to the appreciable standard of where the stakeholders wanted the game to be and, with their continued support, we will get to such height in no distant future.

The job ahead is still enormous. The North Africans have left us behind. We will continue to push for grassroots involvement. We are not oblivious of the crunching challenges of funds, it will not deter us to build on what we did in the last four years.

One area the federation will focus attention on when I am reelected is attracting more sponsors to the federation programs because, in all honesty, financial constraints are a big hindrance that slowed us down in carrying out some of our lofty programs for the desired growth of handball. We will do more to popularize and develop the game across the country.

Let me place it on record that, we have gone far in our stride to bring more sponsors on board but I will want to keep what we are doing in terms of getting more sponsors for our programs under wraps. I would not want to start reeling out names of our would-be sponsors that we are currently discussing until the discussion become a reality. The ones I mentioned earlier, was secured through painstaking, collective, and concerted efforts of all and sundry.

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Wike: APC Chieftain Lampoons Northern Politicians In Tinubu’s Cabinet

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…says they’re gullible politicians who failed to represent the region well

A Chieftain of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Mallam Sai’du Bobboi lampooned Northern politicians who have formed the cabinet of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu as a bunch of failures in representing the entire region.

He said the Minister of Federal Capital Territory (FCT), Barrister Nyesome Wike is an intruder and the Party’s interloper who came from the opposition ruling party and displaced them in silenced any issues concerning the northern region.

He accused Wike of attacking some well-meaning Nigerians, especially those from the Northern extraction at will without any of the politicians in the current government fighting for the injustice being meted out by the current FCT minister to many sons and Daughters of the party.

Sai’du from Adamawa Central Senatorial District gave the example of Messrs Integrated Facility Management Services Ltd managing the affairs of the International Conference Center (ICC) Abuja abruptly revoked its contract with the federal government by Wike without following due process.

According to him, Wike did that because the company is owned by a Northerner and revoked the contractual agreement with the sole aim of empowering his political cronies who will be loyal to him in 2027.

The Adamawa State-born politician said the crop of ministers from the Northern region in the current cabinets are Wike stooges who do not have the capability and capacity to stand against injustice and defend anyone in the North.

Worried that if they cannot defend the interest of the North and any politician who has served the party well and wholeheartedly worked for the success of the party they have become failures and all Nigerians should boo them because they are a disgrace.

Sai’du further said that Mallam Ahmad Abubakar Moallayidi, a non-serving Senator who has represented Adamawa Southern Senatorial District in recent times became a victim of Wike’s “rascality” of attacking Northerners.

Sai’du who was the former National Chairman of the KOWA Party said Moallayidi was one of the few individuals who sacrificed a lot in delivering President Tinubu and all he could get in return was Wike’s sheer wickedness in attacking Northerners.

He called on President Bola Ahmed Tinubu to as a matter of urgency replace Wike with a more decent politician from Rivers State who is a true member of APC otherwise, the excesses of his leadership are becoming more unbecoming and will consume everyone in the party, including the president.

“Wike from PDP is getting on the nerves of everyone in APC, the Man is having his field day and his atrocities are going unhindered being aided by the so-called Ministers who are afraid to call him to order.

“All I’m saying is he should stand up for Justice and stop fighting those who worked for the party that’s today a beneficiary of their hard work and labor through all sorts of pains to bring Tinubu on board,” Sai’du said

Sai’du a one-time Vice Presidential Candidate of the KOWA PARTY in the 2015 Presidential Election With Professor Oluremi Sonayya as the only woman Presidential candidate continued to say that the APC party is becoming evil with the glaring tendencies of killing her own bonafide Sons and Daughters.

“Many people sacrificed a lot, who against all odds served the party and spent their time, energy and resources in bringing into power the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu are today crying for marginalization because the likes of Wike are the Alpha and Omega of all that’s happening in the party.” He said

He said Northern politicians in Tinubu’s regime are dosing off, they should wake up and fight for the collective interest of the entire region.

“Your silence is too much for our liking, you are becoming stooges to a Man that ought to be under your tutelage. He has silenced you and is making you irrelevant in this administration for his personal interest. Under your nose is fighting one of our own for no just course, under your watch is meting out injustice to some northern politicians and none of you can address him. You are failing us, you are not representing us well and you all will regret it later. Remember the consequences of your actions or inactions will bore down to the electorates to decide.” Sai’du further stated

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ADSUBEB Acting Chair, Shehu Felicitates With Gov Fintiri, Muslim Faithful On Eid-el-Fitr

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The Acting Chairman Adamawa State Universal Basic Education Board, (ADSUBEB) Malam Shehu Umar Shehu has congratulated Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri and Muslim faithful in the state on the occasion of the 2024 Eid-el-Fitr, marking the end of the Ramadan fast.

Shehu, in his Sallah message made available to this platform, urged Adamawa people, especially Muslim faithful, to continue devoting themselves to prayers for unity, peaceful coexistence, and the progress of the state.

He called on people to keeping faith with the leadership of Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri, assuring that the state would continue to witness the type of greatness desired by citizens.

Malam Shehu acknowledged that the efforts of the Governor Umaru Fintiri led administration to improving the education are yielding results, and advised people to continue to support the present administration. 

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How Gov Fintiri, Atiku, Others Celebrate Eid-El-Fitir In Yola

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By Muhammad B. Muhammad

Governor Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri of Adamawa State Wednesday joined hundreds of Muslims at the Yola Eid ground to observe 2-raka’at supererogatory prayer in commemoration of this years Eid-el-fitir celebration.

Other dignitaries at the Eid ground include Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, the Waziri Adamawa, Alhaji Mustafa Aminu, the Galadima Adamawa among other senior government officials, traditional title holders, district heads among others.

In his sermon shortly after he led the 2 raka’at prayer, the Chief Imam of Modibbo Adama Central mosque, Yola, Khadi Ahmadu Bobboi admonished Muslims to fear Allah, shun away from all sinful activities even after the Ramadan period.

Bobboi urged the faithful to be thankful to Allah at all times, supplicate and pray fervently with their families for God guidance so that peace and tranquillity will continue to reign in the state and the country in general.

Governor Umaru Fintiri in an interview with newsmen shortly after the prayer, expressed gratitude to Almighty Allah for the successful completion of Ramadan fasting and celebration of the Eid-el-fitir.

He said: “We are grateful to Almighty Allah for allowing us to observe one of the five Pillars of Islam. With this, I congratulate all Muslims across the world particularly Adamawa and Nigeria.

“And to urge us to live a life of modesty as enjoyed by Islam, help the needy, coexist peacefully and respect one another. This is my message today for the good people of my state and the country.”

Contributing, the Waziri Adamawa, Alh Atiku Abubakar while congratulating Muslims on the celebration of Eid-El-Fitir, describes the hardships Nigerians are going through as most unfortunate but expressed optimism that the country will overcome it.

“We should work hard and support government policies that are designed actually to alleviate the sufferings of the poor people. Basically, I’m not satisfied with the federal government policies, ” he said.

Meanwhile, 4 years down the line, the palace of the Lamido Adamawa HRH Dr. Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Mustafa, was back to life as Muslim faithful from various district and ethnic groups joined in the famous durba celebration and paid sallah homage at the palace of the Lamido in Yola.

The colorful event which was suspended in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic was revived, to enable the faithful mark the end Eid-El-Fitr celebration in grand style.

In attendance at the Lamido’s palace for the epoch celebration was Governor Umaru Fintiri, former vice president, Alhaji Atiku Abubakar, Secretary to the State Government (SSG) Awwal Tukur, Security Chiefs and other top Government officials among others.

In his speech, the former VP who is the Waziri Adamawa, congratulated the Muslim faithful for successfully completing the 2024 Ramadan fasting and urged the faithful to be steadfast in their commitment to humanity and respect for authorities.

He lamented the current economic situation of the country, and called on people to turn to God in prayers and support leaders to address the situation.

He commended Governor Fintiri for coming through in the face of the current hardships by distributing palliatives ro the citizens and urged the people not be tempted to sale the food items freely giving to them.

He further urged the government to assist farmers with farm inputs and called people to embrace farming as a means of survival to overcome the current hardships.

The Waziri Adamawa also urged farmers to plant early maturing crops in order to have a bumper harvest.

He also called on the people to work closely with security operatives and support them with relevant information that will aid in addressing insecurity in their communities.

Regarding the 2024 Hajj operation, he appealed to the government to look into the situation that is fast becoming affair for the rich and assist the pilgrims to enable them tap into the blessings of one of the important pillars in islam.

The Waziri Adamawa who stood in for Lamido Adamawa, Dr. Muhammadu Barkindo Aliyu Mustafa throughout the celebration has received a Sallah gift from Governor Umaru Fintiri at the event.

SAHEL REPORTERS.

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