Nigeria’s football woes on the field and off it continues as the country’s prospect of holding top positions at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) suffered a blow.
There was no Nigerian on the list as the African football body cleared candidates for elections into its Executive Committee.
The Governance Committee of the CAF met in Cairo on January 5 and 6, 2021 convened by its President Mr Michel Kizito Brizoua-Bi, to carry out the eligibility checks of candidates for the positions of CAF President and members of the CAF Executive Committee.
Five candidates officially stood for CAF Presidency and 16 others registered for the position of members of CAF Executive Committee. None was Nigerian.
According to a statement from CAF, the current Senegalese Football Federation president, Mr Augustin Emmanuel Senghor, former Ivorian Football Federation president, Mr Jacques Bernard Daniel Anouma; Mauritanian Football Federation president, Mr Ahmed Yahya and Mamelodi Sundowns FC president, Mr Patrice Tlhopane Motsepe are the candidates for the CAF presidency.
The other candidates authorized to participate in the elections are Wadie Jary (Tunisia); Mustapha Ishola Raji (Liberia); Maclean Cortez Letshwithi (Botswana); Kanizat Ibrahim (Comoros); Djibrilla Hima Hamidou (Niger) and Edwin Simeon- Okraku (Ghana).
Others are Adoum Djibrine (Chad); Suleiman Waberi (Djibouti); Isayas Jira (Ethiopia); Feizal Ismael Sidat (Mozambique); Elvis Raja Chetty (Seychelles); Patricia Rajeriarison (Madagascar) and Lawson Hogban-Latré-Kayti Edzona (Togo).
No Nigerian has ever held the top post as the previous seven presidents of the body have hailed from Sudan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Cameroon and Madagascar.
Speaking with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi on why no Nigerian will be on the Executive Committee, he said Pinnick’s shot at the FIFA Council has closed the window for Nigeria.
“You know Pinnick is contesting for the FIFA Council. There are many countries and why should it only be Nigeria. Nobody will accept to have Nigeria at the CAF level and at the FIFA Council, it will mean there will be two Nigerians at the CAF Exco,” he said over the phone.
Prior to now, Pinnick had never hidden his ambition to become CAF president and was tipped to enter the ring even after he was removed from his role as the body’s first vice-president in 2019 and replaced with South Africa’s Danny Jordaan.
Pinnick fell out with current CAF President, Ahmad Ahmad, who he supported in 2017 in a bid to end the hegemonic decades-long rule of Cameroonian Issa Hayatou, but the former CAF Vice president in a statement in 2020 has instead thrown his hat into the ring for a FIFA executive position.
“Following consultations far and wide and within the broad spectrum of continental and global footballing interests and concerns, I have decided to be a candidate for the FIFA Council at the next Elective Congress of the Confederation of African Football scheduled for March 21, 2021, in Rabat, Morocco.
“For me, it has never been a matter of personal ambition. Always, it has been the passion for service and desire to change the old ways of things and embrace wholeheartedly the new and exciting, and more innovative and impactful ways,” he said.
He affirmed his commitment to contribute to the renaissance of African football and African football administration, adding, “I am aware of the immense plans and programmes of FIFA President, Mr Gianni Infantino, for the African game, and it will take men of mettle, selflessness, clear and scientific thinking, acuity, sapience and resourcefulness to give him the support he needs to bring all those plans to fruition.
“In a fast-changing the global environment with ever-improving technology, we must be able to adopt and adapt, upscale and upgrade and be fluid in the way we do things in order to stay relevant and competitive.”
He pledged to help develop African football at both local and continental levels, adding that his sojourn in FIFA would also enable him to contribute to the emergence of the next generation of African great footballers.
“I believe that with my experience, my knowledge and my passion, I can make a huge difference in the governance of football in Africa in my position as FIFA Council Member, CAF Executive Committee Member.
“The voice of Africa will be heard loud and clear, and the interests of Africa will be served to the fullest.
“What is more; I will be working under the leadership of one of the biggest international bodies in the world where every knowledge and experience can and will be brought to bear, especially in the areas of governance, quality service delivery, transparency, accountability, resource management and development.
“Such knowledge, unquantifiable, might just come to be useful over time, in the direct running of the game in the future,” he said then in a statement.
Ahmad is set to lose his role as President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) after its Governance Committee declared him ineligible to stand in this year’s election.
CAF will elect for a four-year term the successor of Mr Ahmad at the 43rd Elective Ordinary General Assembly, scheduled for 12 March 2021 in Rabat, Morocco.