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Pinnick knows everything but honour

Prominent among the things that happened to football in Nigeria in the past week was the disappointment of the Super Falcons losing again to the…

Prominent among the things that happened to football in Nigeria in the past week was the disappointment of the Super Falcons losing again to the Bayana Bayana of South Africa at the ongoing WAFCON in Morocco and the controversial editorial by The Punch.

But the punchy editorial by The Punch newspaper, which indeed hit Mr. President and his minister of sports below the belt, dominated discussions. The editorial bluntly accused the duo of meddlesomeness and ‘messing around’ with Nigeria’s football. It ruffled many feathers, especially those of the bigwigs at the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports. 

In view of the ongoing cold war between the Minister of Sports and the incumbent NFF president Amaju Pinnick, accusing fingers immediately pointed at the FIFA Executive Committee member as the man who influenced the scathing editorial to smear President Buhari.

Even as it may be difficult to link Pinnick directly with the ‘sacrilegious’ editorial, going by his antecedents, many alleged that he sponsored the editorial just to hit back at the Minister of Sports who is now perceived as someone trying to impede his vaulting ambition.

It would be recalled that sometime last month, through the sports minister, President Muhammadu Buhari had ordered that the 2022 NFF elections must be held in September. Based on this, Dare then wrote a memo to Pinnick directing him to immediately start the process that would culminate into the September elections.

Most importantly, Dare said the President had asked him to tell Pinnick to open up the space to accommodate other disenfranchised stakeholders.

Aware that he might use the existing Bayelsa High Court Order as an excuse, the Presidential order went ahead to ask him to ensure that the court order that is restraining the NFF from calling for a General Congress is also vacated with immediate effect.

After the minister’s announcement, those in the camp of Pinnick grumbled loudly as they refused to accept the fact that it was the President himself who spoke through his minister. Most said Buhari was too occupied with Nigeria’s economic troubles and insurgency to dabble into football matters.

As if they took the minister’s message with a pinch of salt, the NFF kept quiet as nothing had happened as there was no response to the presidential directives. The minister and those who want the elections to hold by all means must have felt slighted and undermined by the deafening silence from Pinnick’s NFF.

It was, therefore, alleged in most quarters that the no holds-barred editorial written by The Punch was to break the silence and launch a direct attack on the real and perceived antagonists of the third term agenda of the NFF president. 

Expectedly, Pinnick quickly washed his hands off the contents of the editorial as well as other stories which had emerged to suggest that was at war with the federal government as his media department issued a well-crafted press release to distance him from everything anti-Buhari.

Pinnick who had used the Presidency to ride to his present position in FIFA claimed in the statement that he holds Mr. President in high esteem and will never do anything to undermine his authority. Ironically, he must have forgotten that Dare whom he so much loathes now is a representative of the President. Maybe, Pinnick needs to be reminded of the saying ‘love me love my dog’.

Rattled by the reactions that trailed The Punch editorial which many people have attributed to him, Pinnick has come out to say that once the Bayelsa Court Order is vacated, he will immediately call for the much needed NFF General Congress to begin the electoral process as demanded by Mr. President.

But he summed up by declaring his readiness to return ‘fire for fire with purveyors of falsehood and half truths, whether they operate day or night, or on legacy or social media’.

Meanwhile, those who know how desperately Pinnick is working to actualise his third term ambition have maintained that he is going to use delay tactics to prevent the 2022 election from being held in September. This is possible because we are already in July which is less than two months to the scheduled month for the election.

Whatever he is planning, Pinnick must resist the temptation to bite the finger that fed and is still feeding him. He shouldn’t forget how he frequented Aso Villa, taking along with him FIFA president Gianni Infantino and the CAF president Patrice Motsepe, when he needed the support of the government to realise his life ambitions.

Pinnick’s popularity among Nigerians, especially football stakeholders, has dwindled considerably and I make bold to say it is due to his lack of self-control, sincerity, humility and above all his condescending attitude.

Nigerians are therefore calling on him to be a man of his words. It is too early to forget how he told everyone that the NFF job is thankless and a waste of his precious time and energy. In fact, he categorically said having consulted his immediate and extended family, he wasn’t going to run for a third term.

Well, his hide and seek game with football stakeholders may be a surprise to many but those of us who listened attentively to the interview he granted Arise TV and veteran journalist, Godwin Enakhena, some months ago, quickly saw what is playing out presently. When he insisted that he was eligible to contest, I concluded that as a man short on honour, he was going to renege on his words.

Therefore, even as he is yet to officially declare his interest to contest, I believe the whiff of money in the NFF will eventually push Pinnick into the race for another term. However, he may quit grudgingly, if football stakeholders sustain the pressure on him to leave.

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