It has been Amateur Football League before 1990.
Football in Nigeria has a very robust, exciting and inspiring historical perspective. This history has impacted a great lesson that has immeasurably charted the programme of the current leadership of NFF and NNL in particular. The nationalistic spirit that underlies the historical transformation of the game in Nigeria and the emergence of great national teams, club sides, football managers and very dynamic fans are no doubt sources of great inspiration for the current.
The history of Nigeria football dates back to the early part of the twentieth century. The man behind the introduction of the game was Baron Mulford, a Briton, who organized weekly matches between European and Nigerian youths in Lagos. Before 1945, there had been regional football associations in Calabar, Port Harcourt, and other coastal cities. It was in 1945, when the then Governor General of Nigeria, Arthur Fredrick Richards, donated the popular “Governor’s Cup”, that a single national coordinating body was formed as a matter of necessity to organize the competition. At the maiden elections, Pa Mulford became the first NFA Chairman in 1945.
In 1959, the NFA became affiliated to the continental body, CAF, and the world body, FIFA. After independence the following year, the administration of Nigeria football fell on the shoulders of Nigerians, with Mr. Godfrey Amachree becoming the first Nigerian Chairman of the NFA. Since then, Nigeria has had a very thrilling football history rising to fame and glory through hard work, determination, resilience, zeal and sustained national interest.
EMERGENCE OF PROFESSIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
In 1990, after several years of contemplation and agitation for professional football to be introduced in Nigeria, following dismal performances in international engagements, for example, when Nigeria failed to qualify for the world cup finals in Argentina in 1978 and Spain in 1982. The then Honourable Minister of Social Development, Youth and Sports, Air Vice Marshal Bayo Lawal appointed some experts on the 8th of February, 1989 to work out modalities for the introduction of professional soccer in Nigeria.
Chief N.O Idowu was appointed the Chairman of the committee with the following as members: Mr. Effion Ekaha (Secretary), Alhaji Yusuf G. Ali, Chief Ben O.S Umunna, Mr. Segun Odegbami, Mr. Patrick Okpomo, Mr. Chris Okoji and Mr. Gbenga Dalley of Nigeria Football Association pro –League competition.
Precisely, on the 9th of April, 1990, the then Minister of Youth and Sports, Air Commodore Anthony Ikazoboh (RTD) instructed the Nigeria Football Association to commence the professional football league on the Saturday 17th May, 1990.
The professional league was launched on the 17th May, 1990 at Onikan Stadium with sixteen (16) club sides spread all over the country. The club sides are: ACB FC of Lagos, BCC lions of Gboko, Bendel insurance FC of Benin, Bendel United FC of Benin, Enyimba FC of Aba, Highlander FC of Jos, Iwuanyanwu Nationale of Owerri, Julius Berger FC of Lagos, JIB FC of Jos, Kano Pillars FC of Kano, Obanta United of Ijebu-ode, Ranchers Bee FC of Kaduna, Rangers International FC of Enugu, Rovers FC of Calabar, Shooting Stars FC of Ibadan and stationary Stores FC of Lagos.
When many clubs indicated interest to participate in the league, the then Board decided to introduce Division two of the League in 1991. The League kept going until 2003 when the Premier League was introduced.
Both Premier League and pro-league division were managed by the pro-league department of the Nigerian Football Association until 2005 when the League gained semi autonomy and has its own operational office outside the football house.
On the 14th of January, 2008 the then President of Nigeria Football Federation, Alh. Sanni Lulu Abdullahi inaugurated an Interim Committee saddled with the responsibility of running the National League, with the following as members of the committee: Dr. Shehu Adamu as Chairman, Mr. Pinnick Amaju as Vice Chairman, Alh. Tanko Nuhu, Sir E.C. Chukwuemeka, Alh. G. A Majekodunmi, Mr. Richard Jideaka, Alh. Audu Attah as members and Mr. Ayo Rahaman as Secretary.
The clubs that competed in the 2008/2009 National League are:
Division A: Supreme Court FC of Abuja, FC Taraba of Taraba, Plateau Utd FC of Jos, Unicem Rovers of Calabar, Kwara Utd FC of Ilorin, El-Kanemi Warriors FC of Maiduguri, Babanawa FC of Kogi, Sokoto Utd FC of Sokoto, Makwada FC Yola, Dalhatu FC of Kano, BCC Lions FC of Gboko, Jigawa Golden Stars FC of Dutse, Adamawa Utd FC of Yola, Ranch Bees FC of Kaduna, NAF FC of Abuja.
Division B: Delta Force of Asaba, Union Bank FC of Lagos, First Bank FC of Lagos, Kolu Utd FC of Bayelsa, Anambra Utd FC of Onitsha, OUK of Umuahia, Bussdor FC of Portharcourt, Crown FC of Ogbomosho, 3SC FC of Ibadan, Dolphin FC of Portharcourt, Prime FC of Oshogbo, FC Ebedei of Abeokuta, Ila FC of Ila, Gabros International FC of Nnewi, Bendel Insurance of Benin and Julius Berger of Lagos
For three seasons, National League has been without sponsors and in 2011 the Nigeria Football Federation under the leadership of Alh. Aminu Maigeri organized an election into the board of Nigerian National League. The products of that election are:
Chief Emeka Inyama – Chairman
Mallam Nuhu Tanko – Member
Hon. Kunle Soname – Member
Mr. Emmanuel Ochiagha – Member
Mr. Greg Abang – Member
Mr. Ayo Abdul Rahaman – Secretary
Clubs that participated in the 2010/2011 National League season are:
Division A: FRSC of Abuja, FC Abuja of Abuja, Adamawa Utd of Yola, El-Kanemi Warriors FC of Maiduguri, Ranch Bees of Kaduna, Dalkert FC of Kano, Jarma FC of Kano, Spotlite FC of Katsina, Nasarawa Utd of Lafia, FC Taraba of Jalingo, Wikki Tourist of Bauchi, Jigawa Golden Stars of Dutse. Jimeta Utd of Adamawa, Babanawa FC of Kogi, Mighty Jets of Jos and Supreme FC of Abuja.
Division B: 36 Lions of Lagos, Abia Warriors of Umuahia, Akwa Utd of Uyo, Bayelsa Utd of Yenagoa, Bridge Boys of Lagos, Unicem Rovers of Calabar, Bendel Insurance of Benin, FC Dender Awka, First Bank of Lagos, Rising Stars of Akure, Gateway FC of Abeokuta, Enyimba Feeders of Aba, Prime FC of Oshogbo, Akwa Utd of Uyo, Go-round FC of Portharcourt, Okpe Utd and Gabros International FC of Nnewi.
The 2010/2011 National League season ended with the following four clubs coming tops and participated in the 2011 NNL Super Cup held in Bauchi (Tagged “Bauchi 2011”).
Jigawa G’ Stars FC of Dutse
Wikki Tourist FC of Bauchi
Akwa Utd FC of Uyo
Rising Stars of Akure
The 2011/2012 season is expected to commence on the 21st of January 2012 with the following clubs as qualifier to participate in the league.
Division A: FRSC of Abuja, FC Abuja of Abuja, Adamawa Utd of Yola, El-Kanemi Warriors FC of Maiduguri, Ranch Bees of Kaduna, Sadauna FC of Kano, Dalkert FC of Kano, Jarma FC of Kano, Spotlite FC of Katsina, Nasarawa Utd of Lafia, JUTH FC of Jos, Giwa FC of Plateau, Plateau Utd of Jos, Sokoto Utd of Sokoto, FC Taraba of Jalingo, Zamfara Utd of Gusau.
Division B: Gray FC of Oshogbo, 36 Lions of Lagos, Abia Warriors of Umuahia, Akwa Utd of Uyo, Bayelsa Utd of Yenagoa, Bridge Boys of Lagos, Unicem Rovers of Calabar, Bendel Insurance of Benin, FC Dender of Awka, First Bank of Lagos, Kogi Utd of Lokoja, Gateway FC of Abeokuta, Ila FC of Ila, Prime FC of Oshogbo, Crown FC of Ibadan and Go-round FC of Portharcourt.
THE MISSION STATEMENT
- Our mission is to raise the resources, and the awareness to revive Football Development process through organization and promotion of competitions at the National level, to repackage and reposition Nigeria National League in line with international best practices for the benefit of all stake holders.
THE VISION STATEMENT
- To set the standard for professional league management in Africa and attempts to meet the standards in developed world as it relates to professional infrastructure, organization, commercialization and other international best practices.
- To encourage mass participation of Football all over the country through the national competitions that shall create the need to reactivate and promote football industry.
- To eradicate poverty amongst Nigerian Youths by ensuring that Nigerian Youths are meaningfully engaged through the Football industry.
- To provide ready feeder players for our various cadres of National Teams.