EXCLUSIVE: Key Players Speak On Nigeria Squash Election Controversy

Senior players, as Lanre Yusuff, rue the manner in which the election went, but a stakeholder feels the election was 'credible'

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Professional Squash Players Association of Nigeria logo | Naija Squash Media

 

Important actors have exclusively spoken with Top Media Nigeria‘s Ridwan Adeola Yusuf on the controversy that has trailed last month’s  Professional Squash Players Association of Nigeria, PSPAN elections.

The election, which brought in top-ranked Nigeria squash player, Babatunde Ajagbe as President was followed with discontentment from a significant section of the Nigerian squash community.

PSPAN is responsible for releasing national open tournament points. The points is used to rank squash players in the country.

Top Media Nigeria reached Ajagbe’s opponent, Abdulrahaman Lanre Yusuff and he fumes:

“The election was no election because 80% of the players were not aware.

“The election was impromptu. We were not notified.

“Amos Haruna and Seun Peters notified us of a meeting, to discuss on the body.

“We were there, and they told us that the next day, they need to gather players so that they will have a meeting with the players to know when the elections would hold.

“We were furious that there is no information about this election. Amos is the one speaking for the lawyers. The lawyers – we don’t know.”

Abdulrahaman Lanre Yusuff (left) doing battle with Sébastien Bonmalais of France in a PSA event in Lagos | Chamberlain Open Twitter

When Top Media Nigeria reporter interjected that the lawyer that signed the election results – Barrister Fred Ladapo – is the PSPAN advocate, Lanre insists: “We don’t know him.”

He continues: “I think only Seun Peters know him. Other players don’t know him. At least, some of the senior players should know who our lawyer is. As a matter of fact, we ask them to introduce the lawyer to us. I don’t think we should have a lawyer who the players cannot meet.

“So, when I saw the message from Amos, which says ‘anybody who is running for the post of President of PSPAN must be 30 years old, must have a stable income…'”

Top Media Nigeria reporter cuts in: “Were these requirements in the constitution?”

Lanre replies: “No, no, no, at all.

“That’s where the issue started.

“Originally, Amos was the one that wanted to contest for PSPAN President. Myself as well. When they sensed that they don’t have the edge, they had to postpone the election. So I don’t know how they come about bringing Tunde Ajagbe in, because Tunde is actually the present Players’ representative at the national level. So, how come they want him to double as the President of PSPAN?”

L – R: PSPAN players, Babatunde Ajagbe, Abdulrahaman Lanre Yusuff (seated) and Idowu Enimakure in a PSA event in Lagos | Chamberlain Open Twitter

Top Media Nigeria reporter interrupts: “Is it illegal for Ajagbe to hold the two positions?”

Lanre replies: “I don’t know. But, I don’t think it is reasonable. Because presently, he is not even in Nigeria, with his family. So, how come he is contesting for the post?

“What I think is this: This set of people have hidden agenda. Sometimes ago, my friends (fellow squash players) and I challenged them to be more transparent. You cannot be in an association where you pay a due and at the end of the year, you don’t know how your money is being spent.

“Mr. President, the Financial Secretary, or whoever, we need to know how our money is expended. They don’t like it when you challenge the status quo, that is why they are against my ambition.”

Put to Lanre that 30-plus players voted, Lanre explains: “The Electoral Committee are not the people that announced the election results. The Caretaker Committee ought to act as the Electoral Committee.

Abdulrahaman Lanre Yusuff (bearded, in white shirt) among the crowd at a PSA event in Lagos | Chamberlain Open Twitter

“We had three members of the Caretaker Committee, namely: Sodiq Taiwo, Veronica Sunday and Godwin Adamu. And we had a meeting where we agreed they would be in charge of the election. So, how come these people were not duly notified before the conduct of the election?”

ELECTION NOT FREE AND FAIR’

“Most of the players didn’t vote freely. I have evidence. One of the newly-welcomed senior players told me Seun Peters called him that they have given me a post, that they should vote for Tunde, which never happened!

Squash adherents enjoying the game at a PSA event in Lagos | Chamberlain Open Twitter

“He was calling people to vote and was imploring them to vote Tunde. That is how they got their manipulated 30-something votes.

“They didn’t actually want election in the first place. They wanted selection, which is not even enshrined in the constitution. As long as you are a member of PSPAN, you are qualified to vote and be voted for. So, why the sudden change?

“If you want to change the constitution, there should be a legal seating and some set of people should agree with any amendments.

“Besides, there is no seating executive, hence, that could not have happened. Who is that lawyer who does not know his job that will say I want to change the rule hastily?” the world #262 ask rhetorically.

POST-ELECTION

“I spoke to Femi Adeyemo, one of the member of trustees of PSPAN, he asked me to write a Protest Letter. I’ll submit the letter soon,” he concludes.

Top Media Nigeria connected with a major stakeholder in Nigerian squash, who prefers to remain anonymous as he is not authorised to speak on the matter publicly. In his own explanation:

“The election was credible and well-organized by the trustees.”

‘YES, IT WAS IMPROMPTU’

Corroborating Lanre’s impromptu election claim, he says:

“Actually, nobody planned for the election. But when it came, all the players were well-informed.

“And it was supposed to be a 24 hours notice, but it was extended for more than a week, due to the impromptu nature of the announcement.

“We extended the election by I think 8 to 9 days so as to give everybody fair chance. And of the 52 bonafide members that PSPAN has, 37 voted.”

Nigerian squash family | Chamberlain Open Twitter

Questioned if all the 37 players really voted for the one candidate, the squash adherent notes “not all”. He elucidates: “Because we have only one candidate for President; only one for Vice-President. We only have two candidates for I think one or two posts, which the other person too got a paltry vote.

“Nobody stopped anyone from contesting. There was only one eligible candidate for the Presidential seat. The other person that showed interest in contesting was Lanre, and according to the guideline brought by the trustees and the lawyer(s), he is not qualified.”

REQUREMENTS FOR PSPAN ELECTION NOT STIPULATED IN THE CONSTITUTION’

“In the requirement given by the trustees and the lawyer, no requirement for (PSPAN) election was stated in the constitution – specifically.

“The constitution allow three members to conduct the affairs of the elections. That’s all. Nothing was stated (for the requirements).

“Maybe it is high time we review the constitution. The constitution did not say anything concerning election, except that ‘three persons can oversee the elections’.

Ball sports lovers pinned to the action at a PSA-sanctioned event in Lagos recently | Chamberlain Open Twitter

“We’ve been in a state of lacuna since last year. There was no executive. The Caretaker Committee too, their time has expired. So, nobody was governing anything. The trustees now took it upon themselves, that for this association not to fall, let them come in and take over.”

DISPARITY ON PSPAN LAWYER

“Well, for those who care to know, they know him. The PSPAN lawyer (Barrister Fred Ladapo) happens to be a member of Apapa Club, where Lanre and Idowu (Enimakure) train. He is one of our trustees.

“This morning (Thursday), I was in the house of Femi Adeyemo, who happens to be one of the major sponsors of the prominent aggrieved members. I am just telling you this as a privileged information – to tell you how transparent the election was. The man too was on the committee for the election. So, if your sponsor is there, and your sponsor has spoken with you, that, this is how it went, that, there is no issue, then that cements the fact that the process is transparent.

“When others were campaigning, you (referring to Lanre) were not campaigning, you are quarrelling. Idowu contested for Chief Whip, he lost. 32 people voted for Udeme James; 4 voted for Idowu.

“Infact, we encouraged Lanre to go for another post he is qualified for, he declined.

“The guideline is: One, you must have served on the board of executives. Two, you must have a steady job. Three, you must be 30 years old.”

When reminded that these are the issues some of the members are aggrieved at, the Nigerian squash key player reiterates: “Nothing related to the elections was stipulated.”

He sustains his point: “So, because nothing was stipulated, does that mean there shouldn’t be guideline? Because the constitution was silent on that – which the trustees are going to review very soon – does that mean there shouldn’t be guideline? Does that mean just anybody can come and contest for President of PSPAN today? No! There should be guideline to any election. That is it.

“The Chairman of the Board of Trustees was the Chairman of the Electoral Committee. This is the same man that conducted the election of the Lagos Country Club some 2 weeks or thereabouts ago. These men are not kids! They are owners of industries!”

TUNDE AJAGBE VOTED IN AS PRESIDENT, IN ABSENTIA?

Furthermore, the concerned party divulges: “Tunde was around. Tunde featured in Chamberlain (Squash Open). Election process started during Chamberlain (Open) tournament. And the trustees too, who were involved in the election came to watch Chamberlain (Open). Because it was during Chamberlain (Open) that they called us that ‘you people should do something’, and we did!

Tunde Ajagbe playing 2017 World Junior Squash Champion, Marwan Tarek in Lagos recently | Chamberlain Open Twitter

“What if one is Nigeria-based and is not working?

“And if we see somebody based here at home, who qualifies for those three guidelines, then the person should put himself forward.

“Sodiq Taiwo for example, meet all the requirements, but he did not present himself.”

The squash aficionado, who wishes to remain unnamed noted that disgruntled contestants were given 48 hours to officially submit their protest, which nobody did – even when it was extended to 72 hours.

A major supporter, Captain Dayo Awobokun (spotting Arsenal jersey) fixed to squash action | Chamberlain Open Twitter

PSPAN was formed on November 25, 2012 in Lagos state by squash players to bring about regular competitions for players.

This was as a result of the near-absence of regular competitions in the squash circuit.

PSPAN players, Faidat Soliu and Busayo Olatunji (in front) competing at the Chamberlain Squash Open 2018 in Lagos | Chamberlain Open Twitter

This year, Lagos state has hosted two Professional Squash Association (PSA) – sanctioned events – the Lagos International Squash Classics and the Chamberlain Squash Open.

 

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