- As NFF’s board reaffirms support for president
By Monica Iheakam
Ahead of next month’s CAF election, Nigerian CAF members including past and present football administrators loyal to Issa Hayatou have ganged up against the Nigeria Football Federation President, Amaju Pinnick.
This is coming barely days after the NFF board re-affirmed its support for Pinnick’s ambition for a seat into the CAF Executive board with a mandate for him (Pinnick) to ensure that whoever emerges as the new CAF President , would protect the nation’s soccer interest.
But the past and present Nigeria football administrators, who hold different portfolios in CAF, in a release made available to Daily Sun Sports yesterday , declared their unalloyed support for Hayatou’s bid to remain in power after 29 years as CAF’s numero uno, arguing that he has recorded giant strides as the continents football governing body.
The release signed by nine persons which include banned FIFA and CAF member, Dr. Amos Adamu, Barrister Chris Green, Amanze Uchegbulam , Aisha Falode, Paul Bassey amongst others read in part: “We , Nigerian members of CAF hereby declare our unalloyed support for President Hayatou and his leadership of CAF, one that has brought great developments to the game in Africa, including the hosting of the FIFA World Cup on African soil for the first time.
“Dr Hayatou goes into the March Elections as an overwhelming favourite. Even if he was not, it is a political faux pas to indiscreetly react otherwise, in a terrain where the interest of our football (Nigeria) should be paramount over any personal interest and consideration.
“Mr Pinnick as an individual has a right to declare support for whoever he pleases but when such support is made in the name of Nigeria then there is need for extreme caution given the political colouration of CAF elections of which we are well grounded and versed in.
“We do not remember Mr Ahmad visiting Nigeria to solicit or canvass for votes nor do we have any record of Mr Ahmad’s pedigree in the running of football in Africa that would have led Mr Pinnick to dangerously throw all of Nigeria’s eggs in his basket. We stand dangerously threatened.”
Meanwhile, the NFF board yesterday reaffirmed her support for Pinnick insisting that the board is backing him in the nation’s interest.
A member of the NFF board, Ibrahim Gusau who is also the chairman of chairmen, in a statement yesterday stated: “To champion the interest of Nigeria in CAF was one of the reasons that the board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) unanimously endorsed Amaju Pinnick to contest for a post in the forthcoming CAF election in Ethiopia.”
Cntinuing, Gusau stated: “In a nutshell, we all agreed unanimously at the board meeting of NFF to support NFF President, Amaju Pinnick to contest for a CAF Executive seat in the forthcoming CAF election in Addis Ababa. We also gave him a mandate to use his discretion to vote for any presidential candidate that has genuine vision that will benefit Nigeria. We believe Amaju as the President of NFF is not going to CAF as an individual but he is going there to represent the interest of Nigeria and we believe as a leader he understand the politics in CAF. We have unanimously endorsed him to contest for the CAF Executive seat and also vote for any candidate of his choice whom he believes will benefit Nigeria.”
Gusau, accused those Nigerians in CAF of being selfish saying: “Some of those criticizing Amaju for supporting another candidate apart from Issa Hayatou are selfish because some of them have been in that system for decades and they believe that without Hayatou, they cannot retain their seats. They don’t have the interest of the country and what has the country benefited from them since they have been there. So it is wrong for anybody to start criticizing Amaju for not supporting Hayatou. It was same Hayatou that stood vehemently that Africa was not supporting Infantino Presidency during the FIFA election and it was the same President that appointed the first African as Secretary General of FIFA. So I believe Amaju being Nigeria’s representative knows what is best for Nigeria and we have given him the mandate to contest a seat in CAF Executive and also vote for any presidential candidate that will benefit Nigeria. As NFF President, he is not going for CAF seat as an individual but as the country’s mouthpiece in the continental body.”