ON March 12, 2021, President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, scored another personal goal and brought glory to Nigeria and Africa, when he was elected into the 37-member FIFA Executive Council.
The FIFA Council is the highest decision-making organ of the football governing body. He defeated the Malawian Football Association President, Walter Nyamilandu, by 43 votes. He thus becomes only the third Nigerian to occupy the exalted seat, after the late Orok Oyo and Amos Adamu.
Pinnick’s meteoric rise to the top of global football is an eloquent testimony to his doggedness and sense of purpose. His latest feat at the CAF Elective Congress in Morocco was the actualisation of a long-held dream nurtured with a sustained drive for success.
The Federal Government also spared nothing in supporting him. This has once again proved that when united in pursuit of a common cause, Nigeria can achieve a lot. The recent successes of Akinwunmi Adesina of the African Development Bank, AfDB, and lately Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala of the World Trade Organisation, WTO, are good examples.
Pinnick has already achieved greatness in the political arena of international football. His role in the ouster of a towering figure at FIFA and former President of the Confederation of African Football, Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou in 2017, after a 30-year reign and the subsequent emergence of Madagascar’s Ahmad Ahmad as Hayatou’s successor are noteworthy.
The NFF boss was again at the centre of the campaign that enthroned South Africa’s Patrice Motsepe as the new CAF President on March 12, 2021. On a personal note, Pinnick was a member of CAF Executive Committee, CAF’s First Vice President and briefly acted as CAF President following Ahmad’s suspension in 2018.
He is currently the chairman of the Africa Cup of Nations. His latest victory at the CAF elective congress is just an icing on the cake.
His slot in the FIFA Council is one of the two reserved for English-speaking Africa, which means his constituency is bigger than Nigeria.
In view of the backwardness of Africa football, it is hoped that Pinnick’s ascent in FIFA hierarchy will result in more FIFA projects for Africa and a rapid transformation of its football landscape.
Back home, Pinnick has to refocus his energy on youth football development in order to ensure a brighter future for the country’s teeming youth.
The domestic football league needs a new direction and we trust the new FIFA Executive Committee member to bring his administrative savvy and connections with corporate Nigeria to bear on the league and make it more rewarding to the country.
In the UK, for instance, the English Premier League contributes enormously to that country’s GDP. Pinnick must leave his mark in the sands and take Nigerian football to new heights.