By Salifu Usman, Abuja
Barely four days to March 12, Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) elections in Morocco, former chairman of Gombe State FA, Ahmed Shuaibu Gara Gombe, has faulted the purported federal government’s backing for the president of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Melvin Pinnick, quest to win a seat on the FIFA Council.
The minister of youth and sports development, Mr Sunday Dare, represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Engineer Nebolisa Anako, had on Thursday, March 4, 2021, at a press conference, stated that Mr Amaju Pinnick’s ambition would further reposition Nigeria in the global football map where the country has made remarkable inroads, saying his triumph would follow in the glorious steps of illustrious compatriots Dr Akinwunmi Adesina (re-elected as President of Africa Development Bank) and Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (first female/ first African Director-General of the World Trade Organization) in recent times.
Reacting to the Minister’s statement, Gombe described the comparison of Mr Pinnick’s ambition to the illustrious Nigerians like Adesina and Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala as a slap on Nigerians’ sensibilities.
He said there was no logic in the comparison of Pinnick’s selfish ambition with Adesina and Okonzo-Iweala, urging the NFF president to clear himself of all corruption cases filed against him by the anti-graft agencies in Nigeria.
“The Minister’s claims that the federal government is showing support to AmajuPinnick was faulty. Likewise, the comparison of Pinnick’s selfish ambition to that of Dr Ngozi Okonzo-Iweala and Akinwumi Adesina was a big slap on Nigerians. There was no basis for comparison.
When Akinwumi was campaigning for his second tenure as president of Africa Development Bank, he came and he met with the president, the president hosted him and we all saw it. Dr Ngozi also met with the President and we saw the pictures everywhere.
“She didn’t go to the Ministry of Trade and Investment for the Minister to say the federal government is supporting her, no. That is not the way to show support. If they are serious about supporting Pinnick, they should take him to go and see the president so that we really know whether we are fighting corruption in this country or not. We are Jokers.
“Pinnick is facing a lot of corruption cases and there is no anti-corruption or law enforcement agency in Nigeria that is not investigating him, the person we want to send to FIFA. Let him be investigated and clear of the corruptions against him before you compare him with Adesina,” Gombe said.
He accused Pinnick of undermining Nigeria’s national interest for personal gain and urged the government not to encourage arbitrariness. “Nigeria does not mean anything to Pinnick. You are giving him support yet he arbitrarily withdrew from CAF Presidency for a South African candidate. Unless the Minister is telling us that Nigeria withdrew for South Africa in a Continental position like that. We must not reward arbitrariness and undermine our national Interest for personal interest. It is hypocrisy for anyone to endorse Pinnick.”