By George Aluo
The nation’s domestic soccer scene has never had it so good. The domestic league which before now was in some quarters described as nothing but glorified street soccer has been turned around by the League Management Company (LMC) organizers of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), the elite football league in Nigeria. The NPFL is now running shoulders with the best leagues in the world as one of only 3 leagues from africa to be members of World Leagues Forum. (WLF). The LMC also has a technical partnership with one of the best leagues in the world, the LaLiga with visible benefits to the NPFL and indeed Nigerian football.
And one man whose name must come up for mention whenever the success story of LMC and the league is being told is Shehu Dikko.
Dikko who sits on the board of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) as vice president is the chairman of high flying LMC.
The Kaduna state born soccer buff, who is a marketing and development strategy expert, is a dynamic, result-driven businessman. He has the reputation of developing several businesses of different scopes from ground zero to enviable heights.
Dikko has business interests spanning several sectors of the economy such as infrastructure, energy, real estate, construction, agriculture, media, project management, finance and investment.
He is very passionate about The Beautiful Game and he is equally armed with a clearly defined vision of how Nigerian football could be run as a business with tangible dividends for all its stakeholders without compromising its social and community significance.
Little wonder the LMC under his leadership has succeeded in turning the league around.
The once cash strapped league that had no sponsors now boasts of several corporate sponsors who are getting value for indentifying with the league with participating clubs getting appreciable payouts and bonuses from the league as well as a surge of huge flowing for the league across the nation.
Dikko, who holds a first degree in Quantity Surveying also holds an MBA with specialization in Marketing and Finance and a Certificate on Football Direction Program from IOD London, is currently the Chairman of the NFF First Instance Body (FIB) in charge of Club licensing in Nigeria; was an inaugural Director of LMC (2012) and Chairman of its marketing and strategic development committee; Member of NFF Appeals Committee (2011-2014) the highest judicial body of the NFF in Nigeria and Chairman of NFF Strategic Development Committee (2015 to date) in charge of proposing reforms and strategy for the development of Nigerian football.
Dikko is also a Trustee of the NANPF Nigeria Players Welfare Trust Fund.
He was also a member/secretary, Ministerial Committee on Super Eagles Bonus Row and Code of Conduct Drafting-2013 and drafted the Super Eagles Code of Conduct document.
Dikko also acted as consultant to the Federal House of Representatives in 2008/2009 and assisted in the drafting of the Act for the Establishment of the National Sports Commission (NSC), which was passed by the House of Representatives.
Dikko, the Man behind the Transformed Nigeria Football League has over the last 20 years been involved in football administration/management at al levels from grassroots, state, national and international levels and has garnered huge experience working closely and understudying several top level decision makers globally.
This includes several football federation presidents, league chairmen, clubs, technical experts, football business directors and indeed ministers of sports from different jurisdictions including Nigeria since year 2000.
Dikko, has over the years participated and made huge positive contributions towards the development of football in Nigeria and has drafted as well as co-drafted several strategic development documents in the areas of Governance, Technical and Strategic Development as well as Marketing.
Some of the areas where Dikko has made his impact felt include but not limited to the following: • 2003 – Drafted the blue print for the introduction of minimum welfare standard for Nigerian players as well as basic educational development of young players.
• 2003 – Drafted the blue print for the introduction of a Pension Fund scheme for professional footballers in Nigeria.
• 2004 – Drafted the blue print for the repackaging and repositioning of professional football in Nigeria under an autonomous league board.
This led to the creation of Nigeria Football League (NFL).Same year, he was appointed Project Manager by FIFA, for the FIFA Goal Project, Abuja.
• 2005 – Appointed Strategy and Marketing Consultant for the Nigeria Premier League (NFL) and drove the successful commercialization of Nigeria League football from a meager revenue of N70 million to over N3 billion.
• 2005 – Drafted the new organizational chart for the NFF in line with international best practices.
• 2005 – Reviewed the NFF Act 101, on the directives of Honourable Minister of Sport to ensure it conforms to FIFA principles and strengthening of the NFF autonomy. The act is currently reviving consideration by the NASS.
• 2005 – Reviewed the proposed NFF Statutes on the directives of the Honourable Ministers of Sports in line with FIFA Statutes and principles for the consideration of the NFF Congress. The NFF statutes has been the Governing document of the NFF since 2006.
• 2006 – Developed a defined marketing and strategic development plan for the Nigeria Premier League (2007-2010) and drove the process for several commercial transactions of the NPL to ensure its financial stability from 2005 through 2012,
• 2006 – Developed the blue print for the sustainable financing model for the Nigeria national representative teams aimed at generating minimum of N2 billion annually to run the national teams.
• 2006 – Recognized by Soccerex conference in London among the 10 most important football personalities attending the conference along with the CEOs of the Spanish, German, MLS and French Leagues attending the conference.
• 2007 – Organized the Globacom Premier League International Seminar.
• Drafted an investment strategy for the NPL aimed at securing the financial future of the league.
• 2008 – Arranged the summer tour of Nigeria by Manchester United, then EPL and European Champions
and Portsmouth FC, then English FA Cup champions along with Kano Pillars, then Nigerian League Champions in Abuja, Nigeria. The entire even was funded though private sector funding.
• 2008 – As a consultant to House of Representatives, assisted in the drafting of the Bill for the establishment of the National Sports Commission (NSC).
• 2009 – Facilitated a fact-finding tour of UK sports organization/administration (EPL, the FA, Sports Ministry and Legislature) for key members of the Federal House of Representatives Sports Committee.
• 2010 – Secured for the NFF an opportunity to send an U13 team on an all-expenses paid tour of the UK by the English Premier League. The current Super Eagles and Manchester City Player, Kelechi Iheanacho was part of the U13 that went to London for the tour.
• 2011 – Appointed member of NFF Appeals Committee
• 2011 – Appointed member of the NFF Strategic Development Committee.
• 2012 – Appointed member of the LMC.
• 2013 – Drove the commercial program of the LMC that ensured the resolution of the financial problems of the league and guaranteed the financial stability of the NPFL.
This includes the landmark and record-breaking TV deal worth $34m USD.
• 2013 – Appointed member of the NFF Bonus Row Ministerial Committee and co-drafted the Super Eagles Code of Conduct document.
• 2013 – Led the team that negotiated the LMC Governance Structure with the club owners which was subsequently approved by NFF executive Comittee and NFF congress which. The LMC Governing structure has been the catalyst for the sustainable and evident growth of the NPFL and it has been hailed by CAF and FIFA and recommend to several other jurisdiction for adoption.
• 2014 – Co-drafted the NPFL Rule Book which also made the administration of the NPFL seamless and professional.
• 2014 – Co–drafted the NFF Club Licensing Regulations and delivered the inaugural lecture to the Club Owners on the implementation of the club-licensing regime. Dikko was also invited to Soccerex Africa forum in South Africa where he delivered a paper club licensing.
• 2014 – Appointed as the Chairman of the First Instance Body (FIB), the statutory body (as prescribed by FIFA for the Management and Implementation of the club licensing system in Nigeria.
Dikko is also the proprietor of Kaduna Professionals FC, who won the Kaduna State Federation Cup in 2004 under the sponsorship of the then M-tel.
Dikko has always brought his private sector background and initiatives into football administration and management with the long term vision to ensure that football is professionally managed as well as become self-financing and a huge business success in Nigeria as done globally for the benefit of all stakeholders.
Dikko has received several awards both locally and internationally in recognition of his modest achievements both in football and private business.