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ANOCA Executive Committee elections like no other

AIPS Africa
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The ANOCA Executive Council and Extraordinary General Assembly during the fifth day of the 21st ANOC General Assembly at the Sheraton Grand Hotel on November 17, 2016 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Mark Runnacles/Getty Images for ANOC) by Tony Nezianya

 

DJIBOUTI, May 6, 2017 - Many African Olympic family members, especially those in the executive committee and those contesting elections and even those helping out candidates for elections have hit the Djibouti capital in a bid to try to swing votes.

 

“It has been interesting, a delegate,’’ quipped a delegate, who pleaded anonymity, adding “This time the campaigns have been stepped a bit. This is obvious as the stakes are far higher than previously.

 

“ANOCA has grown in leaps and bounds. It now has three major Games to organise and many want a piece of the action.”

 

The African Olympic body now organise Zonal Games on its own-created seven zonal structures; it also organises the Africa Youth Games, now its third edition coming up in Algiers, Algeria in 2018.

 

Another member said that everybody now want to be associated with success.

 

“When the body was domiciled in the Cameroons, with the body plagued by poor funding, very little were accomplished.

 

“By every minimal stretch of imagination, ANOCA is becoming a success story of action and with the right leadership in place, has room for more improvements.’’

 

More than anything eelse, the Nigerian sporting community appear elated at news of the return of the return of Gumel, who would no longer face oppostion in the election, following disqualification of his Gambian opponent, ABOU WADDA Ousman – The Gambia National Olympic Committee (GNOC) Treasurer, who was disqualified.

 

Nigeria’s Vice-President, Africa Table Tennis Federation (ATTF), Olabanji Oladapo, haied the return of Gumel.“This is will have a positve effect on the sporting committee in Nigeria.

 

“It could have been a disservice for Nigeria not have have had presence within the ANOCA executive committee,” he said, adding “I congratulate him and the Olympic Family”.

 

Perhaps, these were some of the reasons that could make the upcoming May 10 election into the executive Committee of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa in Djibouti “an election like no other’’.

 

The elections are scheduled to hold in Djibouti during the17th Ordinary General Assembly from May 9 to May 11.

 

Elections provide avenue to either renew mandate of representative body; this can take the form of re-endorsing the bulk of the outgoing committee or voting in an entirely new leadership. Sometimes, it is a time to make costly or cosmetic changes.

 

However, one thing that is certain in the upcoming election in the African Olympic Family executive body. It is obvious that the stakes in ANOCA are higher now than some 20 years ago.

 

The final push by the Africa Olympic Family to dissolve the now defunct Supreme Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA) because its continued existence alongside the Association National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) is a needless duplication, has helped to raise the stakes.

 

ANOCA has since signed an agreement with political bodies to resolve African Games ownership dispute.

 

The disputes around the African Games’ finally eased out after the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between sporting and Governmental bodies.

 

This has no doubt, made the race for ANOCA’s presidency more daunting than it has ever been. This was also re-enforced further after a proposal to introduce maximum age limits of 70 was rejected by the African Olympic family at their Doha Extra Ordinary General Assembly in 2016.

 

Indeed, the plan to introduce age limits in similar vein to the maximum ceiling of 70 for all ANOCA Executive Committee positions also, used for IOC membership had provoked the strong disagreements.

 

The failure of the motion, then meant that current ANOCA President Lassana Palenfo, currently, 75 is free to stand for election for even a fourth term in office.

 

The Ivorian was first elected to the post in 2005 in Accra, Ghana and was successfully re-elected in 2009 (Abuja) and 2013 (Abidjan).

 

However, the two hottest contenders for presidency are the incumbent, Ivorian Lassana Palenfo and Cameroonian Hamad Kalkaba Malboum.

 

Both are not new as they have travelled through the route twice previously in 2009 in Abuja and Cote d’Ivoire in 2013.

 

On both occasions, Palenfo prevailed but a third meeting can be anybody’s game, depending on how it pans out among the 54 member nations of the African Olympic family.

 

The two gladiators have military as their common background; both are grounded in sports at local and continental levels.

 

Palenfo is current ANOCA president and holds the presidency of the Ivorian Olympic Committee. He formerly held the continental leadership of the Africa Judo Federation.

 

Kalkaba on the other hand is current president of the Africa Athletic Confederation (AAC) and current president of the Cameroon Olympic Committee.

 

By no means, no less important is intense the festering battle for the control of the ANOCA secretariat.

 

It is a tussle that may make followers of the politics in ANOCA to keep their eyes open just as it was four years ago in Abidjan, where one of the the incumbent secretary-General, Zimbabwean Tommy Sithole, had to wait for the second ballot and a last minute switch to become Secretary General.

 

This time he has a Sudanese contestant, Elegasim Hashim Ahmed Abu, who is said to be firmly and forcefully in contention for the battle royale.

 

The Sudanese, it was gathered might be enjoying unwavering nod of his country’s Olympic committee.

 

Information at the disposal of Echonewsng.com is to the effect that both candidates are riding high in pre-election rating and conversation among the 54 member nations of the Olympic family.

 

Generally, speaking the outgoing executive committee has to their credit, a number of achievements. Indeed, under the leadership of Palenfo, ANOCA successfully introduced the ANOCA regional Games at its seven zones.

 

He also was able to rally support to secure MoU to run the All Africa Games, now to be known henceforth as the “African Games’’.

 

Under his leadership, the African Youth Games now in its third edition was introduced and scheduled to be hosted by Algeria in 2018.

 

As parts of some changes, even a new logo was approved. It was agreed that African IOC members and Commission representatives will be able to attend all ANOCA meetings in a non-voting capacity.

 

With the African Games under ANOCA, this means that the continent-wide event would eventually serve as a qualification event for future Olympics Games and be able to attract the cream of the continent’s elite athletes.

 

That achievement will no doubt help to foster, “harmony and synergy of actions’’ within the African Sports Movement as well as become crucible for unity and cooperation in the continent”.

 

Perhaps more crucial was the haul of 45 medals at the Rio de Janeiro Games — so far the best outing for Africa collectively — to better on the 40 medals haul at Beijing 2008 and the London 2012.

 

ANOCA was able in the build up to the Games, to distribute funding worth $607,000 (£404,000/€574,000) to athletes that competed at the Rio Games.

 

Now with an increase to a million dollars, ANOCA is already looking at more improvements ahead of the Tokyo Games.

 

It is perhaps on account of these and looking to the future that Palenfo launched a bid a comeback bid, by requesting the African Olympic family to give him another mandate to consolidate.

 

But, Cameroonian Malboum Kalkaba, who announced his candidature early, said that he did so on the understanding that Palenfo had said he would not seek a fourth term of office.

 

Whatever, the case, it will be up to the 54 member-nations of the African Olympic Family to be the deciders in Djibouti. It is a secret ballot. But we should ensure fairness and play by the rules.

 

"Ethics should guide our actions before, during and after the Djibouti elections as the true winner will be: individuals or Olympism,’’ Palenfo pleaded.

 

He adds: “Olympism is neither an organisation, nor a system; it is a mental construction, a philosophy; in a nutshell, it is a state of mind which permeates core values that are both individual and general.

 

“All these values are in tune with ethics, the core notion of Olympism.’’

 

“We should nurture the values of Olympism and predicate our action on ethics, given that the African Olympic Movement is, as a matter of fact, meant to serve youths of the continent, not its leaders’’.

 

“We should, therefore, organise elections based on ethics, so that we can, together, rise to the challenges of the Olympiad about to begin,’’ concluded Palenfo.

 

A lot will now depend on the voters to once more demonstrate integrity and be counted.

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