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Those nursing ambition to replace Pinnick as NFF president

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, there will be a change of guard at the helm of affairs at the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on September 30…

Barring any unforeseen circumstances, there will be a change of guard at the helm of affairs at the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) on September 30 after the incumbent, Amaju Melvin Pinnick, officially declared before the 77th NFF Annual General Assembly (AGA) which held on Thursday, August 18 in Lagos that he will not be seeking  a third term in office.   

It would be recalled that the CAF and FIFA Executive Council was re-elected for a second term on September 21, 2018 in Katsina. So, his tenure will expire on September 20, 2022 but he is given a grace of 10 days to prepare for his exit, if at all he does not renege on his present position. 

It would also be recalled that shortly after the Super Eagles failed to qualify for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, there was tremendous pressure on Pinnick to resign. 

 Instead of relinquishing his position immediately, he held on but announced that he would have nothing to do with his much hated third term ambition. In doing so, he cited family reasons as well as the ‘hatred and animosity’ within the football fraternity. 

However, as time went on, it became obvious that Pinnick was up to something as he refused to show any commitment towards the process that would lead to a fresh election into the NFF. 

But after dilly-dallying, the AGA decided to extend Pinnick’s tenure by 10 days as fresh election into the board has been fixed for September 30 in Benin City. 

Following the decision by the congress, the coast is now clear for those who have continued to engage in clandestine campaigns to come out openly in pursuit of their aspiration to replace Pinnick as the next NFF president.

Trust Sports, therefore, takes a look at some of the contenders who are heavily linked with the NFF presidency come September 30.

Seyi Akinwunmi

The NFF first vice-president has a reputation for being one of Nigerian football’s smartest people. He is a fantastic grassroots football lover and this is seen in his current role as the chairman Lagos State football Association.

Akinwunmi is said to be a brilliant and silent strategist who understands how football politics is played.  He is a serious contender to succeed Pinnick who he has worked closely with for the last 8 years. He has also been in and out of court along with Pinnick over corruption allegations. However, there have been speculations that his relationship with Pinnick has gone sour so he may not receive his boss’ blessings to succeed him. Unlike other aspirants, Akinwunmi has yet to officially announce his ambition.

Shehu Dikko

The League Management Company (LMC) chairman has been the NFF second vice president for the last 8 years and will face huge opposition from other stakeholders who feel he is of the same coin with Pinnick. Both men have been enmeshed in corruption cases over the years and that may be his albatross. According to sources, Dikko, who holds a Master of Business Administration from Ahmadu Bello University, is the preferred choice of the incumbent but the failure of LMC to get sponsors for the domestic league may be a major setback for him. He is yet to openly declare his interest in the position.

Ibrahim Gusau

The Chairman of Zamfara State Football Association, Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau is one of the longest serving FA chairmen in Nigerian football. He is also the Chairman of Chairmen and Member of the Executive Committee of the Nigeria Football Federation. Despite his inability to contribute meaningfully to the growth of football in his state, he is said to have received strong backing from the northern caucus which form the majority of the NFF congress to emerge as the next president. Reports also have it that he is one of the strong supporters of Amaju and has so far refused all entreaties to forgo his interest for Shehu Dikko’s ambition.

Chris Emeruwa 

The Confederation of African Football, (CAF), Head Safety and Security department has already taken to social media to announce his ambition to become the next NFF president. 

The doctorate degree holder in health education and human kinetics had served as special assistant to three successive Nigeria Football Federation’s General Secretaries which includes, Dr.Bolaji Ojo-Oba, Barrister Musa Ahmadu and Dr. Mohammed Sanusi. 

He has coordinated safety and security issues at a number of matches and competitions for CAF and the world’s football governing body, FIFA. Emeruwa believes he is in tune with modern trends in football administration.

Ahmadu Musa

A former NFF scribe will be officially announcing his intentions formally on next week Tuesday. The legal practitioner with over 30 years at the bar, was one of the first Nigerians to earn the FIFA master’s degree in law, humanities and sports management, and served as Deputy Secretary General (General Services) at the NFF before becoming the General Secretary in July 2010. His resignation in 2015 came amidst speculations that he refused to release $3.6 million to Pinnick intended as repayment of a loan from the Federal Government. 

Abba Yola 

Alhaji Abba Yola is chieftain of the defunct National Sports Commission (NSC) Sports and former Chairman of Kano Pillars FC who is currently serving as the Chief of Staff to the Minister of Youths & Sports. The astute football administrator who was a contestant against Pinnick in 2014 is also testing the water ahead of the 2022 election. It is said he would get the blessing of his boss, Sunday Dare, if he decides to throw his hat into the ring. 

Mouktar Mohammed 

The Chairman of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, Football Association, Alhaji Abba Mouktar Mohammed is seen by many as a vibrant and innovative young man who has the drive to change the face of football as he has done within the FCT within a short period of time. Although he is yet to declare his political ambition, those close to him have said he is also watching the body language of Mr Pinnick. However, if he decides to contest, one thing that may work in his favour will be the fact that he is from the north where the majority of the congressmen are drawn. 

Petersdide Idah 

A former Super Eagles goalkeeper and former Coordinator of the senior national team, Idah has promised a sweeping reform, if elected the next NFF president. He believes his emergence would restore the dignity of Nigeria football amidst the barrage of failures under the outgoing board led by Amaju Pinnick. The South Africa-based retired goalkeeper said he hopes to rewrite the record books by becoming the first ex-international to lead the football house. According to him, the antidote to cure Nigeria’s football problems and put the country right back at the top of African football lies with him. Without writing him off, Idah has a mountain to climb because he is being considered one of the ‘outsiders’ as he is neither a congressman or insider as far as Nigerian football politics is concerned.

Ben Akwuegbu

A former U-17 and U-23 player has disclosed that his desire to run for the NFF Presidency is to qualify the country for the World Cup. Akwuegbu also maintained that his focus as NFF President will be on grassroot football development. According to him, he has the template to run and revamp the local leagues while ensuring Nigeria qualifies for the world cup and win it for the first time

Jonathan Akpoborie

The U-17 World Cup winner and NFF presidential hopeful said he wants to bring new positive life to the management of the game. According to him, he has the talent in management after witnessing how the game is run in Europe.

Daniel Amokachi

Popularly known as the ‘D’black Bull’, Daniel Amokachi is another former international who is linked with the NFF plum job. The former Everton man is currently the Senior Special assistant on sports to President Muhammadu Buhari. Like other aspirants, he has also said when the signal is clear enough, he would declare his ambition to lead Nigerian football. 

As said earlier, the coast is now clear for aspirants to come out of their shells. Therefore, in the coming days, the jostle for the lucrative position of NFF president would continue in earnest.