My chat with Barr Godwin Dudu Orumen.
NIGERIA’S BEST PLAYERS ARE IN EUROPE
GE: Who really is Godwin Dudu Orumen
GDO: A lawyer and a sports journalist with uncommon passion for sports and a can do attitude. I am a very positive person, not afraid to take position on issues even if against popular views or at the risk of being branded anti establishment. I come from Oke Old-Site Ora, Owan West Local Government Area, Edo State. I live in Lagos for now. I find that l swim against the tide many times but at the end of the day l am correct.
GE: Would you want to let us into your background
GDO: Early life was spent between Ibadan, Sapele, Warri and Benin. Primary school education was in Sapele, Warri and Benin because in those days government officials went on transfer to different towns at different times. Mum was a nurse and dad was also a medical personnel so l was on the move with them all the time
GE: How much of sports did you do growing up
GDO: l played football and lawn tennis growing up but l had a good idea of most sports growing up just behind Ogbe Stadium in the 60s and 70s.
GE: Until recently, a lot of people thought you were from Delta state.
GDO: Indeed a lot of people thought l was Delta and it’s because my mum was Itsekiri and together with her family had very strong influence in my growing up. You may well say l have the instincts and conduct of the Delta man but l am an Edo man in blood and flesh.
GE: Why did you have to wait this long to clear this up
GDO: I didn’t think it was an issue. I see myself first and foremost as a Nigerian and for me that’s more important than state alignment. Well now everybody knows l hope it translates to something rewarding for me.
GE: Not much is known about your immediate family
GDO: Well l married my boyhood love from University days and all seem well and good but marriage gave way to her preference for career excellence. Two sons, Ohiorenuan and Aigboje, from the marriage are with her in the UK where she has her Medical Practice. After 22 years l moved on and l am here in a new arrangement with a lady who has all the time for me and we have a lovely daughter, Adesuwa. I deliberately keep my family away from public view so they can have a life of their own without the pressure from being scions of Godwin Dudu-Orumen.
GE: Have you practiced law since you qualified as a lawyer and why didn’t you stick to what you read
GDO: Yes, i did. And after my stint at the National Sports Commision (NSC), l went back to Law Practice between 1991 to 1993. At that point however l did a self audit and asked myself which of my professional competences, Law and Sports can l impact on my environment and society. Sports got my vote and today l have no regrets. I achieved many firsts, recognition through awards and l can boldly say l have protégés in sports business and broadcasting who hold their own. The culture of viewing centres in Nigeria today was introduced by me when l established the country’s first sports bar, Sportshaq.
GE: It’s been sports all the way for you, do you miss practicing law
GDO: l didn’t miss Law Practice when l was away from it because the move away from it was deliberate. I am back in it now anyway.
GE: What was the reason behind setting up Sportshaq
GDO: Sportshaq is an experience of collective audience viewing of Sports event l had in the US and the UK so l shared with my environment. Today over four million viewing centres have emerged from that venture of mine.
GE: Some say you are the best General Secretary the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) never had, why was the doors shut against you
GDO: Great compliments it is to be rated as the best Secretary General the NFF never had. To be honest, the signals were very clear that the setup was not ready for a man of my convictions, principles, sincerity of purpose even with my very obvious abilities, capacity, capabilities, know how, passion and undoubted competences. It’s the system’s loss not mine.
GE: Have you given up vying for same position or a higher position
GDO: I’ll never vie for the job or post at the NFF again. My interest has shifted to less contentious platforms and that is helping children, youths and young adults to develop themselves and make it in life on the platform of sports and it is giving me satisfaction and fulfillment.
GE: You’re reputed to have gone to school with Ministers, Governors, past and present political office holders. Would you want to name names
GDO: You’re right. l had the privilege of being classmates to a huge class of political and public sector achievers. From the University of Benin was Babatunde Raji Fashola SAN from the Law Faculty to the Nigeria Law School. At the Law school there was Nnia Nwodo who was a Minister, before then, Solomon Ewuga was a Minister in Chief Olusegun Obasanjo’s government, Chibudum Nwuche was Deputy Speaker of the House of Representatives, Dr Godswill Akpabio former Governor of Akwa Ibom state now a Senator and Senator Liyel Imoke former Governor of Cross River State and of course Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, first as Senate President and later Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), the current Chief Judge of Edo state and several others, serving Judges etc etc etc.
GE: Your first go at administering sports was where and when
GDO: Upon my call to the Bar, l practiced for two years before having a stint at the National Sports Commision as SA to the Chairman, late Chief S B Williams. That was my first exposure to the administration of Sports. It was an experience that guided subsequent career decisions l had to make.
GE: Is it true that you were rough and tough while growing up
GDO: Growing up was a mix of many things, difficulty with academics at the wrong time resulting in a turbulent teenage but l got through it because of my character and early values given me at home. Indeed l was a handful as some people say but l didn’t have bad habits. Perhaps l was a natural high so l didn’t touch cigarettes and similar stuff but managed the odd pint boffins beer.
GE: How would you describe yourself.
GDO: l think l am a gentleman with good values and principles but l don’t suffer fools gladly neither do l take prisoners. Overtime l found attributes like that rubbed people on the wrong side and brewed enemies for me so l have been working on these and with age l am more mellow. I’ve learnt to walk away from needless battles too and sidestep premeditated confrontations. Life is too short for some of the battles l see around and have fought.
GE: Why do people think you’re arrogant and a difficult person to work with
GDO: l am not an arrogant person. And in truth 98% of people who have opinions about me have never had any interactions or transactions with me. That opinion is all got to do with the image l cut of a no nonsense, interrogating and investigative sports journalist who will say it as it is on my NTA multiple award winning TV sports show, The Best of Football.
GE: You were part of a committee set up recently by the Edo state governor to revamp sports in the state, is this a tall mandate
GDO: The Edo State Governor’s mandate is pretty straight forward and we are articulating it under the Chairmanship of the Deputy Governor. There are men and women of substance on the Committee that will deliver on the promise made during our inauguration.
GE: How did you get into broadcasting
GDO: Mr Tony lredia a retired Director General (DG) of the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA) then Manager News at NTA Benin gave me my chance at TV sports broadcasting in my very first year in the University. Then in 1992 Segun Odegbami (MON) my friend and big brother pushed me a huge step further when he gave me his TV sports series Milo World of Sports to anchor and sit-ins on his flagship programme Saturday Sports Special. In many respects, Segun Odegbami was my mentor together with Mr Iredia not to forget the opportunity given to me by Chief Victor Effiom, then Manager News and Mr Okokon Ndem, GM at NTA Calabar during my NYSC.
GE: Until recently, you had stayed away from the tube, any specific reason for this
GDO: l stayed away from the tube because my uncontroverted opinions were held against me and my business by the establishment and quite shamefully media buyers and agency operatives. But the final act came when l was dropped from the Presidential Task Force for the 2010 World Cup which Rotimi Amaechi was Chairman, the product of written advice l gave to the Presidency through Olusegun Adeniyi then Senior Special Adviser (SSA) Media to late President Shehu Yar’ Adua. At that point l thought l had had enough so l quit but was persuaded to return seven years later by my egbon Segun Odegbami.
GE: Your opinion about today’s sport broadcasters
GDO: Today’s sports broadcasters swim against the tide in many respects and so need help. Poor remuneration, inadequate training and poor support on the job. It’s tough for them and their employers have to do better.
GE: Were you one of those behind the employment of Phillipe Troussier as Super Eagles coach. And why do you think he was sacked unceremoniously
GDO: How Phillip Troussier was employed l don’t know. What l do know is that he was sacked by some Super Eagles players who had access to the Sports Minister then and could pay a section of the sports press to do its bidding. Else how do you explain the sacking of a coach who qualified for the World Cup (1998) with one match to go? On Troussier’s attempt to return, the seeds for not coming was sowed by a section of the media who wanted him to win the two outstanding matches for the Eagles and also stop Angola from winning their own two matches none of which was against the Eagles! Troussier declined the job after the interview sessions we had with him and other coaches who applied in London. l venture opinions on best practice and what’s good for our country and we are in a clime people do not have stomach for truth but l am happy you tell it as it is.
GE: You’re a known critic of successive sports administrators in Nigeria, how can we get your kind of people to administer sports
GDO: Whenever l am called upon l am ready to serve provided the platform appeals to me.
GE: Why did you decide to set up a football academy
GDO: The Cowbell Football Academy has 4 centres in the country with 23 coaches with 500 participants, boys and girls age 4-18 years. Two of my Academy products, Toyeeb Gidado and Miracle Okocha played for Nigeria at U-15 at the African Youth Sports Championship in Botswana, Gaborone 2014. Toyeeb was Captain of the gold medal winning football team and Captain Team Nigeria. I am an apostle of developmental sports and that’s where I’ve decided to direct my energies to presently.
GE: Your educational background
GDO: Secondary school education began in Holy Trinity Grammar School Sabongida-Ora, and after gaps in it l finally sorted myself out and entered the University of Benin in 1979 to study English & Literature. I graduated with Honours degree in 1983. I returned to Uniben in 1984 after NYSC to study Law and graduated in 1987 together with Babatunde Fashion SAN, and attended the Nigeria Law School 1987/88.
GE: Any regrets in life
GDO: In truth l have no regrets in my life. I am a believer in destiny and that what will be will be even if there is or there are delays.
GE: What are those things you have Phobia for
GDO: I don’t have any.
GE: Who are your role models
GDO: My role models unfortunately have all passed on. They are Godwin Mogbeyitsereje Boyo, my mother’s brother and father of Oando’s Godwin Mofe Boyo. A lawyer, one time President of the NBA, a real gentleman. He gave me the values which have served me well in my life. Mr Gamaliel Onosode, a great achiever, board room guru, father, philanthropist, Christian, an eminent and distinguished Nigerian. And MKO Abiola. He had a a large heart. He touched the life’s of so many irrespective of tribe or religion and he was very detribalized.
GE: What’s your typical day like
GDO: My day is usually very simple. I do the routine administrative work in the office, check on the position of business with my clients and concerns, make calls to check on family and friends, respond to social invitations and watch sports. Family gets its share of attention too.
GE: What should we do to discover another Yekini, Okocha or Kanu
GDO: School and Institutional sports are the sure platforms for the discovery of the Okocha’s, Kanu’s and Yekini’s even if they themselves were not exactly the direct products of the school system.
GE: Your verdict on Nigerian coaches
GDO: For whatever reason or reasons, Nigerian coaches are poor, victims of a dysfunctional system. They are technically behind coaches in other climes and also guilty of the lack of ambitions.
GE: The late Shaibu Amodu described Nigerian players as average, was he right
GDO: Shaibu Amodu must have had his reasons for his comments but l would say the players are as good as our coaches.
GE: Some persons are of the very strong opinion that you had issues with the late Stephen Keshi
GDO: l had no issues with Keshi. We were very good friends but disagreed on some of the things he did as Super Eagles Coach. In anycase when he had his spat with the NFF hierarchy, l stepped in to make peace. Chris Green, also my classmate at the Nigeria Law School listened to me and took my plea to Maigari and truce was called. You can ask Chris about this.
GE: What keeps you going in the face of obvious frustration from the system
GDO: l dropped my expectations from society so l didn’t get frustrated. I walk away from some of the plots and gang ups. There’s nothing l cannot walk away from.
GE: Can you recall pranks played as a kid that earned you strokes of the cane
GDO: l was kind of very civil growing up and so saw very little of the cane. The occasional lateness to school perhaps.
GE: You definitely would pass for a big boy any day, right or wrong
GDO: As a journalist l think l made my mark if that’s what you mean by being a big boy. Yes, in the business of Sports journalism l think l pass for a big boy.
GE: What do you consider your most cherished asset
GDO: My most cherished asset is self esteem and total confidence in my abilities.
GE: First automobile, what year, favorite brand and why
GDO: My first automobiles were in school. I drove a 504 GL courtesy of my aunt in 1980 to 1983. I bought myself an Audi 100 when l went back to study Law. Since then l have driven some really good cars, real machines. I still own a Mercedes Benz 500 SEL l bought 21 years ago together with a couple of top range cars.
GE: How do you keep your youthful looks
GDO: l live a stress free life and step away from unnecessary problems. I eat good food and make out time for relaxation too.
GE: Suits or casuals, which are you more comfortable in.
GDO: l am comfortable with suits, casuals and native attires. I dress to fit occasions.
GE: When did you make your first cool cash, I mean your first millions
GDO: l have always earned enough money for my needs but l am yet to make the millions.
GE: What did you do with your first salary
GDO: My first salary was handed over to the family.
GE: Most memorable moments in life
GDO: My most memorable moments in life are when l got called to the Nigeria Bar and when all three of my children were born.
GE: Favorite food
GDO: My favorite food is white rice and fish pepper soup.
GE: Kind of music and favorite artistes
GDO: l enjoy Country music and Highlife and my favorite artistes are Sir Victor Olaiya, Sir Victor Uwaifo and Don Williams.
GE: Most difficult phase in your life and toughest decision ever taken
GDO: My turbulent teenage has to be the most difficult phase of my life.
GE: How do you unwind after a hard days job. Introvert or extrovert
GDO: l am an extrovert but not a club man. I watch a lot of Sports on TV and spend time with family and friends talking about just everything.
GE: Toughest decision ever taken in life
GDO: Toughest decision was quitting TV business when l did. It was the only life l knew and l walked into emptiness at the time. But l was relieved to be away from the sharks around me.
GE: How can Insurance Football Club of Benin be revived.
GDO: On Bendel Insurance FC, I’ll pass so l don’t get misunderstood. But from the signals l am getting, Insurance will be back soon.
GE: You are known to be a strong supporter of Chelsea football club, how did this love begin
GDO: I have supported Chelsea since 1974 after reading about the club from Shoot Magazine, a huge collection passed to me by ex Insurance FC and ex Green Eagles player, Sunday Izevbigie.
GE: Can Antonio Conte retain the Premier League crown
GDO: I’ll be surprised if Antonio Conte retains the EPL title. I am not impressed with his philosophy of the game, tactics and methods.
GE: Who is the best coach in the world for you
GDO: For me the best football coach in the world is Manchester United’s Jose Mourinho.
GE: Your all time favorite Nigerian athlete and the world.
GDO: My favorite Nigerian athlete is Mary Onyali-Omagbemi and the world has to be Usain Bolt.
GE: Messi or Ronaldo for you and why
GDO: Ronaldo for me because he has performed in three of Europe’s domestic leagues, propelled club and country to great victories and is easily the most athletic footballer today.
GE: What other sports do you do or follow aside football
GDO: l follow Tennis, Track & Field, Boxing, Formula One and Golf.
GE: If not sports administration, would you have been stuck to law practice
GDO: Yes. If l wasn’t in sports administration I’d be in Law Practice.
GE: Best ever Nigerian national team
GDO: Best ever Nigerian team is the Green Eagles of 1976-78 complete with Thompson Usiyen. If Thompson hadn’t left the country for studies in Canada, Nigeria would have qualified for the World Cup in 1978.
GE: Can the present crop of Super Eagles get to the semi final of the World Cup in Russia
GDO: The present Super Eagles can get to the quarter finals in Russia.
GE: Do you agree with the notion that our best players are not based abroad
GDO: No debate about this. Our best players are in Europe.
GE: How would you rate the NFF under Amaju Pinnick
GDO: NFF has had its challenges under Amaju Pinnick but things appear to be coming together now.
GE: Is the NFF on the right track in terms of football development
GDO: l think the NFF is on a sustainable track to football development going by the results of the youth programmes driven by the 1st Vice President, Mr Seyi Akinwunmi.
GE: Your impression about the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL)
GDO: The Nigeria Professional Football League is coming round but club owners have to step up their acts. League managers the LMC can only provide administrative guides and directions but club owners have to get the product right in order to attract the kind of money the league ought to.
GE: How did you meet your present wife. Tell us a little about her.
GDO: I met my present wife in the course of business. She is very young and unused to the limelight. But she is very good to me and doesn’t bother me one bit. Now she had to change jobs to run my outfit, Sportshaq so she can be in control of her time and give our daughter and l most of her time.
GE: What precisely were the fears of those who stopped you from emerging General Secretary of the NFF.
GDO: The NFF General Secretary thing is probably very Nigerian. Anybody who seeks change is lampooned and pushed away by the establishment. I guess they know it will not be business as usual if l run the NFF Secretariat because l have zero tolerance for underhand and sharp practices, corruption, indolence, poor productivity by staff. The business aspect would have been subjected to best practices and global trends and all that monkeying with the national teams and funds would have been grounded and you know a lot of people, influence peddlers and decision makers benefit from such untoward and unhealthy practices. This class of people will always do their best to keep out anybody who seeks correctness in the polity. As you may well know my opinion and positions on all of the matter I have mentioned here have been in public domain so the mafia went to work and made their choice. Unfortunately, the good of the game is never in consideration in such matters.
GE: What in your opinion is the problem of sports development in Nigeria and the way forward.
GDO: The problem of Sports development is that the custodians of our sports have no idea what sports development is and have not the will nor desire to run on that track. The mindset has to change from winning medals (at Sports festivals) to developing athletes for empowerment within the Sports industry so sports can make its contributions to the country’s GDP. It’s present state is beggarly and unrewarding.
GE: What do you mean by Nigerian coaches are not ambitious
GDO: Nigerian coaches are mostly not prepared for the job of coaching. They just believe that having played a sport they can go into coaching when their active days are over. It’s the wrong notion. Coaching is a different skillset from playing a sport so the coach has to go to a Sports Institute and be trained on how to coach and impart his/her knowledge to others. This isn’t the situation. The National Institute for Sports (NIS) is moribund and imparts precious little to the Nigerian Coach who has yet to see the job as a professional call instead of compensation for his playing days for which he/she has already been rewarded in my opinion.
GE: Can you recall most embarrassing moment in life
GDO: l am very difficult to embarrass and sincerely the only time l was embarrassed was by a friend and classmate. In the face-off between the NSC and Maigari’s NFF, Dr Patrick Ekeji then DG NSC invited me to a peace seeking meeting with the NFF. Chris Green the Chairman of the NFF Technical Committee objected to my being at the meeting. He said l was not a stakeholder in football. Ekeji insisted l stayed but the insult was too much for me so l walked out. After all l have done for the game if l wasn’t a stakeholder in football who is? Perhaps because l am not a hustler who hangs around the power brokers and football politicians l was not considered a stakeholder. From 1993 when l handed a video of Austin Jay-Jay Okocha to Dr Amos Adamu then Sole Administrator NFA so he can be invited to play for Nigeria, l had served as a member of the NFF/NFF Technical Committee including being selected to interview foreign coaches who applied to coach the Super Eagles. I have also assisted with getting a sponsor, Pepsi, for the football league way back in 1995 and somebody relatively new to the business at the national said l was not a stakeholder because l didn’t belong to the power block in Nigeria’s football.
GE: You didn’t tell us the kind of vehicles you drive presently
GDO: l didn’t mention because the cars l drive are from old money, the kind l don’t have anymore and l don’t want tax officers asking for what l don’t earn anymore!
GE: When will Best Of Football come back on TV
GDO: The Best of Football is unlikely to return because l have given sports journalism my best vocationally and soon l am likely to step onto a very big platform of service to my state which will not allow for the return of The Best of Football.
GE: Why did you study law
GDO: I studied Law because l wanted to be a lawyer. The family influence was strong. My mum had an older brother who was a lawyer and married to a lawyer and mum’s immediate younger sister is a lawyer also married to a lawyer. So anywhere and everywhere l looked there were lawyers. It was a natural attraction
GE: First work experience
GDO: My first job was in my teenage years as a clerk in a company in Sapele called Niger Delta Shipping Agency owned by Chief KB Omatseye whose sons were my boyhood friends.
GE: Would you want to share the advice you gave to the 2010 World Cup Presidential Task Force that was used against you.
GDO: The advice l gave was used to set up the Presidential Task Force not that it was used against me. l was excluded from the PTF because as l was told “you are seen as a radical”. But the truth was that the President’s name was used to keep me out by powerful intermediaries. In this case it was Mustapha Onoyiveta, ADC to President Yar’ Adua to “protect” late coach Shaibu Amodu from possible grilling from me on the composition of the Super Eagles and other technical matters. However despite my personal loss the PTF was necessary at the time because Nigeria’s qualification for the World Cup was in danger. The setting up of a body with easy access to funds from government to facilitate the prosecution of the remaining qualification games was a good idea. As you know funds to pay allowances, bonuses, ticket refunds to players, preparations and logistics support for the Super Eagles have ruined many of our ambitions in football. A body with the right composition of persons and as it turned out, capable of accessing adequate funding from the private sector and government was the right liaison between the government and NFF. The terms of reference proved sufficient too. But l lost out to some powerful sharks.
GE: Your opinion about Government sponsorship of sports in Nigeria
GDO: Government should not sponsor sports. It should create the enabling environment, give tax holidays, rebates and all such incentives that can attract private sector participation. However for developmental sports l believe government presence and support is imperative and the way to go but in a structured and planned way with clear roadmap, milestones and (targeted) deliverables.