By Jacob Ajom
The Nigeria Football Federation headed by Amaji Pinnick is still not prepared for the much anticipated Annual General Assembly which is expected to prepare grounds for the Elective Congress billed for next month. The success of the impending General Assembly would mean an end to the current board as an elective congress is bound to come afterwards.
It is no longer news that the President of the NFF, Amaju Pinnick has made a volt-face after he told the world in April this year, that he would be bowing out at the expiration of his (second) tenure due to family pressure. Coming under heavy criticism after the failure of the Super Eagles to qualify for the Qatar 2022 World Cup, the NFF supremo had said he was done with being in office because he had put in his best and his family wanted him to step aside.
“At the moment, my family is completely against it. I’ve done my best, posterity will judge whether I did my best or I was good enough or not. I’m still an integral part of football as a member of the FIFA Council, I’m not a peripheral member, I’m also a member of the CAF Emergency Committee, I’m also the vice president of the AFCON committee, so I’m still very deep in football but I believe there’s time for everything,” Pinnick told TopSport on Top Radio.
While some commend him many argue that under his watch Nigeria football has witnessed a downward slide both locally and internationally. The Super Eagles will not be at the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, the once dreaded, all-conquering Super Falcons only managed to qualify for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup; age-grade football that used to be Nigeria’s fortress has become stunted and the domestic league is nothing more than a glorified inter-house school competition. Worse still, the league is not on television.
While his forays in international football politics have remained unmatched, the real growth of the sport at home has suffered hence the agitation and clamour for change in some quarters although there are still those who feel he should continue.
But he wants to hang on, going by recent developments. Unfolding events at the football house in Abuja eloquently paint a picture of a man who wants to stay in office. Pinnick has made a volt face and gone back on his word – that he would quit. He is now under a new pressure; the pressure to stay on. He informed the press during the week that ‘genuine lovers of the sport stakeholders’ were writing and calling on him to continue. He promised to give it a serious thought. Indeed, the NFF leadership is now divided over the ambition of Pinnick.
Wednesday, August 9, the NFF wrote to FIFA a letter signed by General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, asking the world football governing body to allow it(NFF) stage the forthcoming election in January and not in September as originally planned. This has further polarised the already divided board as some members of the board claimed ignorance of the decision to postpone the election, not the least the one to contact FIFA. “A clique which has been taking decisions in the name of the Board is desperately doing things without the knowledge of most members. I got to know from the (WhatsApp) platform that a letter had already been sent to FIFA. We never discussed it”, a member protested vehemently to Sports Vanguard.
As if to justify his U-turn, Pinnick, in an interview with People Sport in Nairobi, Kenya said, “I had initially decided not to vie, but I have been receiving several calls from very influential Nigerians as well as genuine lovers of the sport urging me to seek another term. It is within the law and I will decide about it when the right time comes.”
This is not honourable for a man whose mien and posturing exude sincerity, hounour and dignity. But the danger is that the NFF boss may incur the wrath of members who are spoiling for impeachment. Is he telling the world that pressure from his ‘genuine lovers of the sport’ is superior to family pressure? Has he suddenly realised that the lucre of office is so attractive that he wants to cling on, even when the popular call for change has been deafening? Can he bear the consequence of a defeat at the poll or even an impeachment?