BY SALIFU USMAN, Abuja
Ahead of next week’s Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) elections in Rabat, Morocco, the federal government has thrown its weight behind the president of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Melvin Pinnick, in his quest to win a seat on the FIFA council, the highest decision-making organ in global football.
Addressing the press in Abuja yesterday, minister of youth and sports development, Mr Sunday Dare, said
Mr Pinnick’s ambition would further reposition Nigeria in the global football map.
The minister, who was represented by the permanent secretary, ministry of youth and sports development, Engr Nebolisa Anako, stated that Pinnick’s triumph would follow in the glorious steps of illustrious compatriots like Dr Akinwunmi Adesina (re-elected as President of Africa Development BankAfDB) and Dr Ngozi OkonjoIweala (first female/ first African director-general of the World Trade Organization-WTO) in recent times.
“If the NFF president wins the position, it will not be a victory for the federal government and all Nigerians alone, but the African continent. He will be a great ambassador of our great country if elected into the FIFA council. As a member of the CAF executive, Pinnick is aware of the task ahead and the federal government’s support to the actualisation of his dream,” Anako said.
“Mr Dare believes Amaju can use his position and connections in CAF and FIFA to help promote and develop Nigeria and African football in all ramifications. Let us be resolute and firm in our support.
This is no time to stand on the fence, but to be partakers in the scheme of things.”
NFF’s 2nd Vice President, Mallam Shehu Dikko, who stood in for Pinnick (who is already in Morocco), thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his usual strong support for the NFF and Nigerian Football generally since coming into office, and assured that once victorious, Pinnick would continue in his usual way of influencing the appointment of Nigerians into FIFA and CAF committees and administrations, as he did while he was 1st Vice President of CAF and has been doing as Member, CAF Executive Committee and Member, Organizing Committee for FIFA Competitions.
“As a FIFA Council Member, Mr Pinnick will also be automatically a Member of the CAF Executive, which gives Nigeria a voice at both global and continental levels. This is not a Pinnick project, but a Nigeria project. If countries like Guinea and Madagascar can have people in the FIFA Council, there is no reason why a big football –playing nation like Nigeria should not.”
President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Enginner Habu Ahmed Gumel, gave a thumbs-up to Pinnick’s candidacy, saying “the FIFA Council seat is important to us, Nigeria and Africa, and we enjoin all Nigerian football stakeholders to be loud in their support for Mr Pinnick.”
NFF General Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi enjoined all football stakeholders to join hands with the Federal Government, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports and the NFF to give Mr Pinnick strong support in his bid for the FIFA Council seat.