In the light of the impeachment of NFF President, Aminu Maigari, Chairman of the Delta State Football Association Pinnick Amaju in this interview with JOHN EGBOKHAN warns Sports Minister Tamuno Danagogo to be wary of those angling to become the new NFF President.
Following the impeachment of Aminu Maigari, do you think we are making progress in our quest to develop our football and if given your track record of excellence in sports administration, are you ready to serve as NFF President?
Sincerely speaking, I am driven more by passion than any other factor in whatever endaevour I go into and because of that, I cannot work in an environment where there is so much uncertainty, hatred, bickering and an environment where even if you are an egghead in sports administration, there are still some people who, maybe out of ego, selfish, parochial and myopic reasons swill always sabotage your good and sincere efforts to develop football.
In Delta State, despite the many challenges we have, we always rise above them because we put God first in our quest to achieve our target and will quickly bury our differences in the interest of developing the game.
There were times in the past that I quarreled with fellow board members like Austin Okocha and Victor Ikpeba but we did not allow our differences to deepen to the state of affecting the development of the game. We share our painful experiences together and that is the reason why we have been able to realise these achievements in Delta State.
On the impeachment of Maigari, I am not saying that he is a perfect man but I stand to be corrected that our football has recorded many laurels and achievements during his regime. He may have his flaws but the truth remains that he has won many continental and international laurels and qualified Nigeria for all major international and continental tournaments in the last four years.
It was also during his term in office that the League Management Company was formed to run the Premier League and we are living witnesses to the achievements of the body. But the fate of the LMC is now hanging in the balance.
It is very discouraging for some of us who are young and have been given talents by God in sports administration, which have been visibly reflected in everything that we have done. It is very discouraging because the longer you stay in football administration, the more experienced and robust your connections are and these come in handy in developing the game.
Eight years ago, it was Ibrahim Galadima; four years back, it was Sani Lulu and now it is Aminu Maigari. So my question to those celebrating the fall of Maigari and want to be NFF President is that how are they even sure that the same fate would not befall them in four years time?
Those of us in football administration should pause and reflect very cautiously to see if our actions or in-actions are objective or subjective. The biggest casualty from this is football because with what is going on now, sponsors will run further away from engaging in any sponsorship of football because they know that a picture of corruption or maladministration is always painted. Whether true or false. Corporate Nigeria won’t want to associate with any corrupt body. Major brands will run far away because they want to protect their brands. That’s what happened to Tiger Woods and Luis Suarez. The companies pulled out because their brands are sacred and they don’t want any negativity to be associated with such brands.
I am not holding forth for Maigari but I believe that if a case of corruption in levelled against him, the courts are there to do their work and there are due processes to follow.
Since you are not interested in the Presidency of the NFF, who do you think should get the nod of the Congress and what message do you have for the Minister of Sports?
I am appealing to the Minister of Sports to beware of those people not jostling to be NFF President, especially some of my state FA Chairmen colleagues. The Minister should ask them to show one thing that they have done to impact sports development in their states in the last four years. The Minister should beware that the lobbying will increase and that he will be getting several phone calls at night now. In going forward, the Minister should look at people who have demonstrated enough dexterity in football administration, marketing and organisation and these are things that can easily be checked.
What has it been like being the Chairman of the Delta Football Association?
It has been a wonderful experience because Delta FA has the longest-running sponsorship deal in Nigeria. The Delta FA Cup has run uninterruptedly for 15 years, with one sponsor, Ecobank. The last two editions were aired live on AIT and Super Sports.
The Delta FA has trained over 200 coaches in the last 15 years at the NIS in Lagos and the Institute of Sports in Mosuga, Delta State and some were sent abroad on internship courses. And in the last 10 years, we have been able to bring top referees to Delta State to train our referees. One of them was Jeff Winters, an EPL referee, who brought his wealth of experience to bear on our referees. Tow years ago, we sent some referees abroad on courses and one of them Paul Omuuago was sent on an FA programme and during his stay there, he officiated at Old Trafford. When he returned to Nigeria, he was made a FIFA referee.
The high point of our achievement is the ultra-modern Delta State Football House, which we have built and will be commissioned next month. It is a world-class edifice and was privately funded to the tune of over N200m. It is called the Patrick Okopomo Football House.
We also have the best State league, headed by Edema Fuludu. It runs independently and is funded by Zenith Bank. Despite all these achievements, we are driven to strive for more because we know that we have the talents and administrative will to get better results.
Even in the bigger picture, we have won two of the last three National Sports Festivals and our athletes are also doing the country proud in international competitions.
Our junior athletes, Divine Oduduru and Efe Brume are currently running for Nigeria at the IAAF World Junior Championship in Eugene, Oregon, USA. And we believe that our track record in sports will get better in the future because we are committed to ensuring that our athletes realise their true potentials in a peaceful environment.