Although they are last on the table in the ongoing Nigeria Professional Football League, NPFL, season, the re-appointed chairman of Nasarawa United football club, Barrister Isaac Danladi is confident the club will be rescued from relegation. In this interview with Trust Sports, Danladi who is also the Chairman of NPFL Club Owners Association spoke on the herculean task before him and how he intends to go about it.
Did your re-appointment as chairman of Nasarawa United come to you as a surprise?
Well, first and foremost, I want to thank God for an opportunity like this. I want to thank our sports-loving governor, His Excellency, Engineer Abdullahi Sule for finding it fit and proper to reappoint me as the chairman of Nasarawa United. Indeed, this is my third missionary journey in the club. I was once the secretary of the club, then chairman and now I have been re-appointed to the same position. Looking at my wealth of experience and the present position of the club, my appointment didn’t come to me as a surprise. Our appointment is a big challenge but we have to see how we can salvage the bad situation.
Your critics may say you lobbied to be re-appointed…
Lobbing is not a crime. It is allowed in politics. But honestly, I didn’t lobby for the job. The government in its wisdom felt that I still have something to offer to the club. They felt I am the right man to go on this rescue mission. The government declared a state of emergency and they believe I am the man to lead the operation.
In specific terms, what is the mandate given to the new management by the governor?
It is just one and it’s like a marching order. We are to go and rescue Nasarawa United from relegation. We are on a rescue mission that is why you can see that even the composition of the management is a compact one. It is made up of people who are versatile and who know their onions. The instruction is going on a rescue mission and salvage the bad situation so that Nasarawa United are not relegated at the end of the 2019/2020 season.
Would you say this mission is achievable?
Well, if you look at the table, it is a herculean task but it is not practically impossible. Yes, we are the last team on the log at the moment but that is not to say with the help of God and the much-needed support from the government, the situation won’t be turned around. With hard work, it is going to be surmountable. We have promised as management to put all hands on deck and with the support of all critical stakeholders in Nasarawa State football, I believe there is nothing impossible. There is no wrong without a remedy.
Beyond pledges, what is the state government doing to support your committee in carrying out this assignment?
What we found on the ground is quite encouraging as far as support from the state government is concerned. To be honest with you, the present ordeal of Nasarawa United has nothing to do with the state government. However, whether we like it or not, this is an emergency so it requires adequate financial support to get things done. I think the support has always been wonderful just that the desired results were not coming. Since we came on board, we have been able to identify the issues that got Nasarawa United into this precarious situation. We are tackling same. Some are urgent and we are proffering short time solutions, some are not quite urgent so we would address them as soon as we find ourselves comfortable and in a safe position.
Since a tree can’t make a forest, would you say other members of your management committee have the same zeal and level of commitment to handle this assignment?
The management committee like I said earlier is a compact one made up of tested and experienced football administrators. I am not the only one who was re-appointed. I returned along with the Team Manager, Solomon Babanjah. He is vastly experienced. His position in the team is critical. He is the link between the players and team officials. I also have other three committed and competent members making us five in number. So I believe that with our wealth of experience, we would be able to deliver.
What are you doing to motivate the players who are the key actors in the club?
When we returned, we discovered that some issues needed to be addressed urgently, particularly the issue of welfare of the players. Not long ago, I was with His Excellency, Dr Emmanuel Akabe who is the Deputy Governor of Nasarawa state and the General Overseer of the club. We had a useful discussion. As we speak, we are expecting him to visit us in our training ground. Our governor, Engineer Sule himself was a sportsman in his days in Jos and he knows the value of motivation and welfare for athletes. So to answer your question again, players’ motivation is a thing of priority.
Would you say you have quality players who can do the job for Nasarawa United in the remaining matches?
Yeah, we have to make the best out of the worst situation. However, the players we have on ground are not bad. For a team like Nasarawa United to beat Dakkada 3-0 in Uyo, draw with Akwa United and MFM away from home, which are all big teams, means that Nasarawa United are not lacking in terms of quality players. All that was needed was a little bit of proper organisation, putting round pegs in round holes.
How much support are you enjoying from the teeming fans of the club?
Hausa people say a good Friday is known from Thursday. Honestly, from what I have seen, the support has been tremendous. A lot of people are excited that we are back. The reason is that they have assessed us and also assessed the immediate past management of the club and they have seen the difference. They are ready to give us maximum support.
Apart from saving Nasarawa United from relegation, is there any other target like picking a continental ticket?
Well, it is still possible but not from the league. I have to be honest and realistic because I am not a magician and members of my management committee are not magicians. So our number one priority is to make sure that we leave the relegation zone and move far away from it and if in the end, something happens, that will be fine. However, I am expecting us to play well in the Federation Cup. You know we are Federation Cup specialists and who knows we may be lucky to make some impact and qualify for the continent.