The gods And The Referee In US

By Frank Meke

Please permit me to discuss religion and sports today. First let me start with sports and it ecosystem. There are usually two opposing teams in every game of sports, soccer, boxing, swimming, karate , and so many others.

Ideally and for the sake of equity and fairness, there’s usually a referee or an umpire to ensure the rules of the games are adhered to by all concerned.

Now, something comes to head, even in travel and hospitality where a customer short changed can petition a consumer protection agency and if you like, such an agency could be likened to a referee and should be able to deliver judgment based on certain realities.

Now, when a referee decides to take active part in the game indirectly supporting one team against the other, the end is usually predictable. It ends in jorpady

Indeed, it is expected that adjudicators, judges and referees distance themselves from partial submissions, particularly subjecting themselves above bias and undue interference in every game or matters involving two persons.

We have overtime seen men of integrity appointed or selected to adjudicate over public issues resigning in face of either accusations of partiality and perceived infractions seen as acts beneficial to the referee or supposed cohorts.

Those are standard expectations because he who comes to equity must be seen to have clean hands, particularly in the context wherein a referee is concerned.

A referee or judge seen by either litigants or a team in a contest as being partial or has a history of bending rules to suit his fancy outside the laws, must definitely excuse himself or erode the credibility of the entire process.

I have had opportunities in the past to chair election process in some associations in tourism industry. The biggest of such appointment was to conduct national elections of Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria ( FTAN).

Former Nigeria Minister of Culture and Tourism, Edem Duke was a contestant. The late Fatima Garbati was also in the rings. Late pa Ebaboje Matthew Da Silva was not directly involved but has wise old eyes on the process. Munzali Dantata, a former Nanta president was Director General of National institute of Hospitality and Tourism Nihotour then, was also there.

That election was crucial, well publicised and there were various camps and the then Sheraton hotel Abuja was initially chosen as venue but was later moved to Arewa suites.

I was young then and I believe the baton fell on me to see through the elections because I was fearless and have a reputation to speak truth to powers. As a journalist, I have long learnt that to stay on part of truth and justice, which usually earn one all kinds names, innuendos and name calling.

Believe me,am yet to see anyone no matter who you maybe or assume you are, that can intimidate me. To reason with me on established norms based on fairness and equity, yes but on clandestine ethos and subterfuge, forget it. Such an intruder won’t go without a sting.

At that ftan election, there were pressures, plenty pressures and recall the very regrettable spat with munzali Dantata. He was then very powerful as a government appointee and as a former president of ftan, wanted me to ease some rules.

Not that he has any particular candidate in mind but in his wisdom, he wanted the elections to take cognizance of certain alleged infractions by some of the contestants.

There was no official petitions before me and I explained why it would be difficult to act on his observations. Munzali Dantata is a lawyer but we disagreed vehemently over the matter.

He was my good friend , still is and we related well when he was Nanta president but on this day, despite holding the office of Director General and in fact, our best leg in government, I didn’t change my mind.

I called a meeting of industry elders and sought their opinion since they were the one that gave me the assignment. Interestingly opinions were divided and I saw it as a sign of lack of confidence in my capacity to deliver on the elections and offered my resignation right there and then.

The elders went into a close door meeting and resolved that I must deliver the elections on the parameters of justice and equity. When I called for any contrary opinion on the eligiblity of the candidates, a petition was presented against the candidature of late Fatima Garbati.

I was stunned. Garbati was one of bright candidates at ftan elections and a good friend of mine. Late PA Da’ Silva pleaded for a soft landing for Garbati but the weight of the petition was overwhelming and knowing that munzali Dantata is a lawyer, and to whom i had earlier refused to stand down on issues of the house, I boldly disqualified Garbati.

Great woman and one of the best this country has ever produced in the sphere of travel and tourism, Garbati did not hold it against me till God recalled from this vain world.

Indeed, Garbati and I became more closer afterwards and in ife, Osun State where she passed on years ago, she insisted that I must pray for her and not stay far away.

One day, I will write about the great women in this industry who believed so much in me and offered me their shoulders and prayers to be whom God wants me to be. These women love me so much to the extent I worry not to fail them in anyway. Garbati was like a mother, a big sister and angel.

She once held down a chartered flight to the beautiful island of Sao Tome and Principe until I showed up. I recall being delayed at the festac passport office where I went to renew my passport and she in fact frantically called the officer in charge to do the needful because that aircraft filled with top government officials, tour operators and travel agents won’t leave until I was on board.

It was magical as then bureaucracy at the festac passport office was shattered by that Garbati intervention and I arrived murtala Mohammed international airport, ikeja to her waiting arm and a walk through immigration like a dotting child into the aircraft. You need to see the eyes on me! Who is this guy that Garbati cannot leave behind?

Well,those were days when people value others,not now when fake people with questionable integrity prants around with fake doctorate papers, deceiving themselves.

So back to our topic. When persons of high moral fibers are called to serve, and there was an overwhelming personal interest or perceptions inimical to such expectations, what such persons ought to do is to resign and not try to justify illegality. We have seen sports men and women, losing their medals after such competitions were over but after investigation into petitions against them were successfully proven, such medals were withdrawn and in some extent, their names removed from honour list.

Justice is no respecter of persons and like two edged sword, would pierce through hands dipped in error no matter when such infractions were done. Indeed, every nation or society revolves on the ethos of justice and not live on its denial. To anyone who wants to benefit from illegality and acts injurious to the collective, certainly such persons won’t escape the wrath of God and people.

I will set aside the gods article for now. Just wait and look out for it. So when next someone angrily surnamed you a god , don’t go windy about it. Tarry because people fear gods!!

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