Patrick Ekeji, Anthony Ani: Where are they now?

They were known for their services to the nation when they were in public service; however, long after they left office, not many of them have been seen again. SUNNY IDACHABA wonders where they could be at the moment.

Patrick Ekeji

A former player and coach of the national team, The Green Eagles, he is a complete sports personality who was a delight to many, especially journalists, when he was in service. Before he was appointed national director of sports at the National Sports Commission in 1994, Ekeji was also a director of sports in Imo state. At one point, he became director of sports development at the National Sports Commission in 2001 and director-general, National Sports Commission in 2009, a post he retired from in 2013.

Commenting on the problems of sports development in Nigeria after his retirement, Ekeji who had seen it all in the sub-sector said, “The first challenge is that of administration. When I say administration, I need to explain it. For the ordinary people out there, when they look at sports administration, they zoom in on the National Sports Commission as that is where the problem is, but the problem is not really at the National Sports Commission. NSC is a government body that is expected to come out with policies and these policies are now expected to be driven by other sub-players.

“For instance, at state levels, the state sports councils are not funded at all, not to talk of being properly funded. At the school levels, they have their programmes but the NSC, even as much as we try to admit them into our games, cannot make them align their programmes with what we have at the NSC. I can tell you that the National Sports Policy, which was passed in 2009, is one of the best in the world, but sadly, we cannot enforce those policies on these schools where the first talents are to be sourced form.

“At the state level, there are many unqualified staff. At the local government level, they have sports committees, which are non-existent. Now at the NSC, what do you expect us to do with the products brought by all the other levels of sports administration?”

Since he retired from service over eight years ago, nothing has been heard about this ex-footballer and sports administrator par excellence again. 

Kojo William

Anthony Kojo William was once a chairman of then Nigeria Football Association (NFA) now Nigeria Football Federation (NFF),but his tenure did not last more than three months on account of what many say was his arrogance and high-handedness, for which he was impeached by the board. In the election that brought him to the NFA Glass House, William, who was the youngest ever to have occupied that coveted position, defeated a much-older and experienced Col. Abdulmumin Aminu (retd.) The man, who has been absent from the national scene since his removal as NFA chairman, was once described by a popular newspaper as, “A man of colourful character and vast means who is blessed with looks and a physique that belies his age. The only reputation he has left behind for his readers to read about him is that after he left the glass house, he walked out of his earlier marriage blessed with four children and remarried only to leave again.”

Writing about him in its editorial, a Lagos-based popular newspaper, said, “In 60 years, he has blossomed into a man of affluence and integrity. 60 years may be a tiny fraction of time, yet he looms large across generations into eternity. The story of his exquisite manhood resonates with a pleasant appeal. He has overtime carved his niche in the business and social spaces, a magnate and entrepreneur of immense worth. His place in the pantheon of Nigeria’s most successful businessmen undoubtedly is assured by the impact of his earthly endeavours as he made his grand entry into the league of sexagenarians.”

Almost 21 years after his removal, Dapo Sotuminu, a social commentator, disclosed how it happened, writing, “Barely three months after his ascendancy to the exalted position of the NFA chairman which was supervised by the federal government in a highly-controlled elections in Abuja, the same elements that saw to his victory which cost millions of the government money ensured his speedy removal from office in a grand design well masterminded by top government sports technocrats who bowed to the pressure from within and outside to save the future of the country’s football following a despotic and obnoxious reign by the young NFA chairman.

“The impeachment masterminds used the opportunity of the Super Eagles’ preparation for the Nations Cup in Papendal, Holland, to strike and articulate the plans to dump the NFA chairman who had become uncontrollable. His harsh words for the staff of the NFA were unbearable. The harsh words also extended to other football stakeholders across the country as no-one was spared the rod. The masterminds also capitalised largely on the short temper of the chairman who believed so much on his aristocratic background as a yardstick for how he should be treated by members of the football family and Nigerians in general.

“Before, the grand plan, it was gathered that the masterminds paid an official visit to the Presidential Villa where they met with President Olusegun Obasanjo to brief him about their plans. President Obasanjo gave his approval after he was made to understand that the continued stay of William in office would cause the country more harm than good.”

His last known public appointment is as a member of the football governing body FIFA from 1998-2010. He contributed immensely as a member of the ad hoc committee responsible for the restructuring of African Football Administration under the Confederation of African Football (CAF). Since then, not much has been heard about him.

Anthony Ani

Etubom Anthony Ani was first a minister of state for foreign affairs and later finance minister under the late Gen. Sani Abacha from 1994 to 1998, just before Abacha died. That was the last public service appointment he held.

A native of Mbiabo Ikoneto in Odukpani local government area of Cross River state where he is a clan head, he is also a former chairman of KPMG and former president, Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nigeria (ICAN). Not too long ago, Chief Ani detailed how the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and commercial banks colluded with Western Union and MoneyGram to kill the Naira. He said the collusion was a national emergency that demanded the urgent action of President Muhammadu Buhari in order to save the local currency from losing its value.

While reacting to an article by a renowned Nigerian economist, Henry Boyo, he revealed some of the activities of the CBN and commercial banks that are killing the Naira.

“When in 1995, we at the ministry of finance reviewed the country’s sources of foreign revenues, we found out that nothing was coming in from Nigerians in the Diaspora, whereas India and Jamaica were living on foreign exchange from their citizens abroad. When I enquired why Western Union and MoneyGram could not receive money from Nigerians abroad, I was told that it was due to our tax laws.

“In 1996, I had proposed (and it was accepted by the Federal Executive Council) in a new law, regarding Nigerians repatriating remuneration from abroad, Nigerians repatriating dividends, royalties, fees, commissions from foreign countries receipts by authors, sportsmen/women, musicians, play writers, artist, etc.

“Some years ago, on my visit to London, I went to Western Union office at Marble Arch, to test by remitting £500 to my son in Nigeria. I first had to convert the money to Dollars and, to my surprise, Western Union gave me a quote in Naira to be claimed by my son. I refused their Naira equivalent and insisted that my son must be paid in Dollars. It was obvious to me that there was an arrangement between our Nigerian banks and Western Union/MoneyGram, whereby the former pays from their excess Naira liquidity while the later retains the Dollars abroad. In other words, the dollar remittance is retained abroad and is laundered by the Nigerian banks. This is definitely against the law which provides that all remittances must be brought into Nigeria in foreign currency via domiciliary accounts.” 

Many years after this revelation, it appears to be business as usual.