The Nigeria Football Federation President, Amaju Pinnick, without beating about the bush, let me go straight to the open secret that the incumbent president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and member of FIFA Executive Council, Mr Pinnick Melvin Amaju is so sleeky that his adversaries are constantly left guessing his next move.
Hate him or like him, the former Chairman of Delta State Sports Council and Delta State Football Association who was first elected president of the Nigeria Football Federation in 2014 under controversial circumstances is presently one of the most powerful football administrators in the world.
Although he was first elected NFF president in 2014, it was in 2017 that his astronomical rise in football administration began. First he was appointed a member of the Organising Committee of FIFA Competitions. In the same year, he was elected into the CAF Executive Committee and appointed president of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).
In Nigerian football politics, securing a second term as NFF president is like the journey of a camel through the eye of a needle. However, in 2018, he intelligently navigated through the landmines to retain his position.
Despite allegations of corruption which his accusers have failed to prove beyond all reasonable doubts, Pinnick worked his way to the highest body in world football administration in March 2021 when he was elected into the FIFA Executive Council, the highest decision making organ in world football.
He became only the third Nigerian after Oyo Orok Oyo and Dr. Amos Adamu to occupy that exalted position. His compatriots like Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima and Segun Odegbami had failed in their bid to reach this level.
At the moment, Pinnick is the most powerful and successful Nigerian football administrator. I didn’t say he has transformed Nigerian football. Instead, as his critics are quick to say, Nigerian football has made him and his cronies.
Some Nigerians might have forgotten that soon after he was re-elected for another four years as NFF president, Pinnick was reported as saying he was not going to seek the office again.
Such a report was indeed soothing news to some of his colleagues who might be eyeing the NFF presidency in 2022. And when he was elected FIFA Executive Council member, many concluded that he wouldn’t behave like the insatiable hunter who uses his feet to hunt for crickets while carrying an elephant on his head.
However, there appear to be growing concerns among football stakeholders as Pinnick is being linked with third term ambition. In fairness to him, he has not come out to publicly declare his interest in the 2022 NFF election. But people with their ears to the ground have continued to say he will contest. And for the fact that he has not said anything to the contrary lends credence to such speculations.
Those suspicious of his moves are of the view that the decision of the NFF Congress to approve the Executive Committee’s proposal to have the 2010 NFF statutes reviewed, without identifying which of the over 80 articles should be amended, is worrisome.
Although the proposal didn’t explain which of the over 87 articles in the statutes are to be amended, one can guess correctly that the proposed amendment must have something to do with the 2022 elections. It is common knowledge that NFF elections usually come with intrigues, manipulation and high-wire political manoeuvrings all in a bid to stifle real and perceived opponents.
Maybe the leadership of the federation wants to shift the date of the Elective Congress from September 2022 to 2023. Since the 2022 FIFA World Cup has been moved to November/ December, the NFF bigwigs would want the election shifted to 2023 so that they would come back from Qatar with enough cash to oil electoral machinery.
As if to say we can read your mind, the Professional Footballers Association of Nigeria (PFAN), has since tabled a four-point electoral amendment demand before the NFF Executive Committee. The demand is geared towards football players having a say in leadership of Nigerian football.
The body’s major concern is with the composition of the congress, Executive Committee of the NFF and voting pattern which they insist must be in tandem with FIFA, CAF and the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 as amended.
In the coming weeks the picture will become clearer especially as it has to do with the proposed 2010 NFF Statues amendment. If the election to be held in September 2022 is eventually moved to 2023, then most stakeholders would say we saw it coming.
For now, all eyes are on Pinnick who has become so powerful that getting a third term will be like a stroll in the park for him. It is believed that whenever he changes his mind to contest, even his loyalists who are eyeing the exalted seat would queue behind him.
The above assertion may not be unfounded considering that even as most football stakeholders believe it is the turn of the north to produce the next NFF president, none of the big boys in the NFF who are from the north is willing to throw his hat into the ring.
Surprisingly, it is the out-spoken business mogul and chairman of Katsina State FA, Alhaji Aminu Balele Kurfi, who is not even a member of the NFF Executive Committee that some stakeholders are mentioning as the northerner who might succeed Pinnick as NFF president come 2022.
However, Kurfi himself is yet to make public his interest in the position. So as football stakeholders continue to play the hide and seek game, all eyes are focused on the powerful and indefatigable Pinnick for his next unpredictable move.