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No pity for Pinnick from NFF presidential aspirants

As the countdown to September 30 NFF Elective Congress in Benin City continues, football stakeholders who are aspiring to become the next president of the…

As the countdown to September 30 NFF Elective Congress in Benin City continues, football stakeholders who are aspiring to become the next president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), are taking turns to declare their political ambitions.

At the last count, over seven aspirants have purchased the N.4m presidential form and five out of the contenders for the plum job have already made formal declarations of their intention to run for the NFF presidency. 

Interestingly, out of the five aspirants that have declared their interest in the coveted seat, only the Chairman of Zamfara State Football Association, Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau, who doubles as the Chairman of Chairmen, held his event outside Abuja. As if to reaffirm the saying that there is no place like home, the member of the NFF Executive Committee and member of CAF Organising Committee made his NFF presidency declaration before football stakeholders in his home town of Gusau.

In view of the fact that most of the declarations have taken place in Abuja,  FCT has indeed become the Mecca of football, at least for now. This is because almost all the VIPs in Nigerian football have converged on the city of Abuja to lend support to the aspirants who used the occasion of their declarations to tell the world why they want to succeed Amaju Pinnick.

So far, what is worthy of commendation is the convivial atmosphere that has surrounded the declarations. The football stakeholders known for acrimonious living appear to have turned new leaves as they are now demonstrating unusual unity and solidarity for one another. 

It was a former NFF General Secretary, Barrister Musa Amadu, who set the ball rolling when he declared his ambition on Wednesday, August 24. His official declaration was well   attended as almost all the influential  people in Nigerian football were in attendance. A well respected sports administrator and former NFA chairman, Ibrahim Galadima, former NFA Secretaries General, Dr. Tijanni Yusuf, Fanny Amun, present vice presidents of the NFF, Seyi Akinwunmi and Shehu Dikko, a former president general of Nigerian football and other sports supporters club, Dr. Rafiu Ladipo, were some of the big names that graced Amadu’s declaration.

In view of the fact that the event held a day after the 10-year Football Development Masterplan Committee of Ibrahim Galadima submitted its report to President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, a lot of people assumed the stakeholders only used one stone to kill two birds.

However, the same personalities were present at subsequent decelerations by  Seyi Akinwunmi, Alhaji Abba Yola and Peterside Idah. That put paid to the erroneous feeling by some people that Amadu ‘ambushed’ the stakeholders were in Abuja for a different event. What has happened so far has shown clearly that the stakeholders are beginning to see themselves as partners in football administration.

What is, however, more important is the fact that all the aspirants who have declared for the presidency of the NFF so far didn’t pretend that it is well with Nigerian football. From Musa Amadu to Ibrahim  Gusau, Seyi Akinwunmi Abba Yola and Peterside Idah, each talked about the need to rescue Nigerian football in the shortest possible time.

Therefore, it won’t be wrong to say each promise made by the aspirants only amplified what the incumbent has failed to do in eight years as the NFF president. There was nothing in the aspirants’ speeches to suggest even faintly that the present board will be leaving behind good legacies.

On his day of declaration, Amadu stressed the need to partner more with the government as he said the government cares for the people while the NFF cares for the people using the instrumentality of football. He also promised to establish a workable NFF/government liaison structure for a harmonious working relationship. Amadu didn’t fail to pledge to empower State FAs for grassroots football development while transparently applying FIFA grants. He concluded by saying ‘Let’s get it right’.

Similarly, Akinwunmi’s utmost desire is to put FOOTBALL FIRST among other things.  He has promised to run an all-inclusive board with the sole aim of repositioning Nigerian football beginning from the grassroots. This means Pinnick’s led board, which he is the first vice-president, paid less attention to grassroots football development.

On his part, Mallam Abba Yola, said he needs only two years to reposition Nigerian football. He also wants to put Nigeria at par with the developed football nations. To achieve this, Ciroman Yola hinted that he would decentralize the running of the NFF secretariat to have more deputy secretaries for accelerated growth. Interestingly, he said if he fails to deliver in two years, he would personally move a motion for his impeachment.

For a former Nigerian international goalkeeper, Peterside Idah, the time has come for Nigerian football to undergo a ‘surgical operation.’ Like the rest, he wants to see Nigerian football develop from the bottom to the top. To make this possible, Idah said he would provide more funding for State associations in order to enhance grassroots football development. The former international who vehemently questioned NFF’s recent contract with kits manufacturing company, Nike, also said he should be impeached immediately, if he fails to deliver on his campaign promises. 

And speaking cautiously as if to avoid biting off more than he can chew, Gusau, a modest man, said he would strive to unite the football family and help in developing the domestic leagues. He also said his administration would ensure that selection of players for the different national teams is based on merit. Surely, questionable selection of players was what cost Nigeria Qatar 2022 World Cup ticket. 

Consciously or unconsciously, what each of the aspirants has done is to reiterate the failure of Pinnick to move Nigerian football forward from where he met it. This is the implied meaning of the repositioning each of them talked about at their declaration ceremonies. They are only confirming what is obvious to all Nigerians. It has never been this bad with our football.

Therefore, as the NFF presidential hopefuls continue to woo the electorate, it has become necessary to advise the congressmen to avoid mistakes of the past. On September 30, they should ensure that they put aside regional, ethnic and religious sentiments to vote for credible candidates who would proffer lasting solutions to the problems that have continued to bedevil Nigerian football.

And most importantly, the congressmen must not forget that Nigerian football does not need a leader whose ultimate ambition is to become a member of CAF and FIFA Executive Committee. This is an emerging trend that is inimical to the development of Nigerian football.  


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