ZURICH, SWITZERLAND - OCTOBER 13: FIFA Senior Vice President Issa Hayatou sits in the lobby during part I of the FIFA Council Meeting 2016 at the FIFA headquarters on October 13, 2016 in Zurich, Switzerland. (Photo by Philipp Schmidli/Getty Images)

Femi Solaja with agency reports

Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) boss, Amaju Pinnick, has once more voiced out his support for Madagascar’s Ahmad Ahmad who is the sole challenger to the long term ruling Issa Hayatou in next month’s Confederation of African Football (CAF) presidential election in Ethiopia.

The NFF boss, in an interview on CNN World Sport programme yesterday disclossed that he was joining forces with those advocating for a change in the leadership of the continental rulling body, CAF. Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou has been president since March 1988 and is going for eighth term in office.

“People want change and a new generation of leadership. I join those advocating for the change”, said the Nigerian football boss who becomes the first official outside the 14-nation Council of South African Football Association (COSAFA) to have openly backed Ahmad Ahmad and conversely oppose Hayatou.

Pinnick told CNN World Sports that the 57 year old Madagascan Ahmad Ahmad represents the bridge between the old and the young and is very keen at bringing positive change to African football.
“Football money is not meant to be warehouse in the bank as CAF is currently doing. It is meant for the field, to develop the game”, said Pinnick.

He extolled the virtues of Ahmad who is in his third term as Madagascar FA boss and also the vice president of Madagascar Senate. When asked of his opinion should Hayatou suddenly withdraw from the race, Pinnick remarked that it would be the height of statesmanship.

Two years ago, CAF Congress voted to change the statutes which had stopped officials above 70 years from serving in the executive committee. That change allows Hayatou who will be 71 in August to contest and serve for a record setting 33 years as CAF president.
The 39th Ordinary Congress of CAF, at which the elections would take place, comes up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in exactly three weeks’ time.

Meanwhile, Chairman of the Media and Publicity Committee of NFF Hon. Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande, yesterday cleared the air on the Federation’s mandate to Pinnick, with regards to the forthcoming election into the presidency of the Confederation of African Football.

“The issue of which of the two candidates the NFF should support came up during our last Board meeting in Abuja, on Tuesday 7th February 2017. Every single member of Board spoke on the issue and expressed support for the NFF President, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick, to use his discretion and vote for that candidate who will best serve Nigeria’s interest during the election. This support was given based on the fact as the NFF President and a Member of the CAF Organizing Committee for the Africa Cup of Nations, he is fully in tune with the political play at that level and knows what would be best for Nigeria.

“There was not a dissenting voice in the room that day. Everyone agreed that Mr. Pinnick should go ahead and cast his vote for the candidate he feels would support Nigerian Football to grow the way we want it. It is not correct for anyone to say the matter was not discussed.

“The Board spent good time discussing the CAF elections and the importance of Nigeria having someone on the CAF Executive Committee, considering the huge role that our nation has always been playing in peace –keeping and sundry noble programs on the continent.

“There is no division in the NFF Board. We are giving full and unconditional support to Mr. Pinnick to stand for the elections and for him to cast his vote for that candidate whose presidency of CAF would serve the interest of our great nation,” he explained.