A chapter was added to the history of Nigerian football on September 20, 2018 as Amaju Pinnick beat other contestants to return as President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), in the election held in Katsina State.
Tribunesport’s NIYI ALEBIOSU who covered the poll, reports the untold story of the event.
For over six decades, election into the executive committee of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has never been so perfect.
Amid agitations from different angles against the conduct of the election on September 20, 2018 in Katsina, the D-Day eventually came and gone but left a memorable moment worth celebrating with the return of Mr Amaju Pinnick as NFF President.
Interestingly, Pinnick by the victory in Katsina, became the second man after the late Father Dennis Slattery (in 1957) to win a second term in office as NFF President through direct election.
Pinnick won by a landslide margin with 34 votes, followed by the former NFF President, Alhaji Aminu Maigari eight votes, as former NFF scribe, Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi polled two votes, while the last candidate who is the proprietor of Bimo Sporting Club, Chinedu Okoye got no vote.
Before the election in Katsina after the Russia 2018 World Cup, a lot of things happened in the history of Nigerian football which almost led to the suspension of the country by the world soccer governing body, save for the timely intervention of the Vice President Professor Yemi OsiNbajo who was acting President then.
His letter recognising the Pinnick-led board as the one running Nigerian football saved the country from an imminent FIFA ban.
This came on the heels of the stance by the Minister of Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung that the Pinnick-led board was not recognised by the law of the land, and that he was not aware of the election in Katsina.
Pinnick eventually returned as NFF President in a landslide victory with his team except a new face from the South West, Alhaji Ganiyu Majekodunmi, who is the chairman of Ogun FA.
The determination of the past board to remain as one in the face of all forms of intimidation played a major role in the re-election of Pinnick and his board members.
Also, though not perfect the marketing of Nigerian football by the Pinnick-led board to corporate bodies which has attracted sponsorship could not be swept under the carpet, and this serves as another factor that contributed to the re election of the board.
“The way the Minister handled the NFF crisis gave the Pinnick team the opportunity to unite as one big family despite the fact that, all might not be too well among them. Nigerians now bacame sympathetic to their cause following the stance of the Sports Minister who was clamouring for the rule of law to be obeyed despite the position of FIFA that the election should go ahead,” said a top football chief after the poll in Katsina which was observed by the representatives of both FIFA and CAF.
Pinnick in his post election chat with Tribunesport said he will ensure that NFF became self-reliant in the next one and half years so that, it won’t have to depend on the Federal Government for any form of finacial assistance again.
He lauded President Muhammadu Buhari for his support towards taking Nigerian football to greater heights.
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Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi, who returned as the first Vice President while speaking with Tribunesport said that their re-election will enable them to consolidate the good initiatives they started four years ago as they hope to focus on grassroots football as well as female football.
Majekodunmi, the new man on the NFF board having expressed joy at his new appointment as he promised to use the office to help in the development of the game not only in the South West but the country as a whole.
The duo of North Central representatives Ahmed Yusuf Fresh and Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande and South East representative Felix Ayansi-Agwu will be part of the current board with vast experience at the national level having served in the last two boards
The trio came into football top office during the Maigari-led board and were subsequently elected back into the board during the Warri election.
The election into the North Central Zone was more dramatic with challenges coming from Alhaji Musa Talle, the FCT FA Chairman who later stepped down at the last minute and the Kwara FA chairman, Mallam Busari Ishola.
Yusuf Fresh got 16 votes, Kwande had 13 votes, while Busari polled 10 votes, but in the second run off, Fresh had 22 votes while Kwande had 21 votes.
Kwande eventually retained his seat when he amassed 28 votes in the run off, while Busari had 15 votes.
Anyansi Agwu had to contest with three candidates before he retained his seat on the NFF board.
The Enyimba FC boss polled 32 votes to win the election with his opponents as Chidi Ofo Okenwa, Emmanuel Ochiagha vice Chairman of Imo FA, Jude Obikwelu and Pastor Emeka Inyama, who later withdrew from the contest on the floor of the election.
Yusuf Fresh later told Tribunesport that the exercise was an eventful one.
“I’m happy with the election despite agitations from some quarters.
For me, this is the most peaceful election I have witnessed since I came into football administration over two decades ago. It was free and devoid of malpractices from start to finish.”
To Anyansi Agwu, the election produced no victor, no vanquished,
“It is good to have other people contesting and that’s the beauty of an elective position. There is no victor, no vanquished, football is the winner. Let us grow with that mentality that we are family and its all about the development of football in the country.
“We are going to bring everybody together to contribute their quota to the game, and I also want to thank everyone who believed in my ability and those who made it possible for me to be part of the board. Football is the winner, we are not on the board to make enmity with anyone’s but rather we want to work for football,” the man who managed Enyimba to win the CAF Champions League for Nigeria in 2003 and also retained the title in 2004 told Tribunesport.