CAF Elections: Day of Long Knives in Abuja

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Duro Ikhazuagbe

Ahead of tuesday’s emergency Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) board meeting called by the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, at his office at the National Stadium in Abuja, there is apprehension in football circles in the country that the forum may be used to create fresh troubles in the administration of the game here.

The meeting has just one agenda: Nigeria’s position on the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Presidential Election.

The minister and some Nigerians in CAF committees are known to be openly opposed to Pinnick’s support for Madagascar’s FA President, Ahmad Ahmad who is challenging Isa Hayatou for the coveted position.

One of the board members told THISDAY last night that except for one or two members of the NFF board, Pinnick has a solid support base among his men and that any attempt to want to force the board change the position it reached at its December 18 Congress where it asked the president to use his discretion in voting at the CAF election may be resisted.

“Nobody can force us to go against the position we reached at the December 18 Congress. We have taken a stand and given the President go ahead to use his discretion in voting for the candidate that will advance the growth of football in the country. Why are they now fretting that Amaju has openly declared his support for Ahmad Ahmad. Is Nigeria not just one vote?” stressed the board member on telephone with THISDAY.

He admitted to have also heard speculations of trying to use the board members to oust Pinnick from the position is he refused to toe the line of the minister in voting for Hayatou.

“If anybody is thinking of interfering in the activities of the board, they are just wasting their time. This is 2017. The era when certain individuals who have been discredited world-wide in the administration of football will think they can use any of us is over,” the board member further observed.

The minister who had earlier opposed Pinnick’s aspiration to contest for a seat on the CAF executive also maintained at the weekend that Nigeria was not in support of Ahmad Ahmad.
Nigerian members of CAF included four former NFF presidents – Amos Adamu, Dominic Oneya, Sani Lulu and Aminu Maigari – issued a press statement condemning Pinnick, while pledging their support for incumbent CAF President Issa Hayatou.

They also argued that the interest of Nigerian football should be paramount over any personal interest and consideration.
“We have consulted widely within the executive of the NFF, the sports ministry and indeed football stakeholders in Nigeria and discovered to our dismay that there is no evidence where Mr Pinnick was mandated to commit this country to supporting Mr Ahmad,” the statement read in part.