Pinnick Banks on Dangote, Otedola to Fast-track NFF’s Status

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*Moves Eagles/Libya AFCON 2019 Qualifier from Kaduna to Uyo

Femi Solaja

The President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, has assured teeming Nigerian football stakeholders that the federation is steadily moving away from government dependency to a more financial dependent status.

Two of Nigeria’s business moguls, Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola were NFF’s special guests at the FIFA Best Awards in London on Monday night and the Nigerian delegation photographs at the event was trending for greater part of yesterday on social media.

The NFF boss explained that the motive behind the gesture to invite the two Nigerian moneybags to the FIFA event was part of the quest that will lead the country’s football into a more dependent stature within the shortest possible period.

Dangote, who holds Nigeria’s second highest national honour (GCON) is the President of Dangote Group and is ranked as the richest person of African descent in the world. The Dangote Group has interests in various commodities in Nigeria and other African countries.

Alongside oil baron Otedola, Dangote was conspicuous at the Awards, and both of them met with FIFA President, Gianni Infantino and the crème de la crème of world football, in the British capital.

“Alhaji Dangote is perhaps the biggest business brand in Africa, and one of Nigeria’s leading Ambassadors. I am very happy to be in a position to invite him and Mr. Otedola to such an event of global stature and essence.

“As a nation, it is important that we continue to showcase our best brands in all fields. Doing this enhances the stock of our country globally. Alhaji Dangote and Mr. Otedola were happy to meet the world’s top governors of football and the football governors were also happy to meet them.

“Our objective as a football federation is to attain financial autonomy so that the government can channel resources otherwise taken up by football into other critical sectors, and we believe that if we have persons like Dangote and Otedola partnering Nigerian Football, we will get there faster,” said Pinnick, who is also the 1st Vice President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

He explained further that, “NFF has invited Alhaji Dangote to a couple of matches previously, including the friendly match with England in London before the FIFA World Cup in Russia, but he was unable to attend. Now, we are discussing with him on a relationship with Nigerian football and he is showing immense interest,” he remarked.

Presently, AITEO is Nigerian football’s biggest partner, with a five-year agreement for payment of salaries of coaches of the various national teams. It is also sponsors of the annual AITEO Cup for men and women and as well as the sponsorship of the annual NFF/AITEO Awards.

THISDAY recalled that Pinnick also invited Mr. Benedict Peters, who is the Executive Vice Chairman/CEO of AITEO Group to the last FIFA Best Awards ceremony in London. He was represented by his deputy, Francis Peters.

This year, AITEO was represented by Executive Director, Andrew Onyearu, at the awards in London as Peters was in New York to receive an award for the company from FORBES magazine.

“Football has tremendous capacity to be self-sustaining and even contribute significantly to the national GDP. That is the station we are targeting at the moment.

“I also want to use this opportunity to appreciate our other sponsors and partners, Coca Cola, Zenith Bank, Nigeria Breweries Plc, NIKE, Cadbury Plc, WAPIC Insurance, Emzor Pharmaceuticals, TGI, 1XBET, Peak Milk, Payporte for making us to attain the present 65 per cent private sector –funding status,” said Pinnick.

Meanwhile, the NFF yesterday confirmed the change in the venue of Super Eagles’ AFCON 2019 qualifier against Libya which was originally scheduled to hold at the Ahmadu Bello Stadium in Kaduna but will now come up at the Nest of Champions Stadium in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.

NFF’s Head of Communications, Mr. Ademola Olajire, confirmed the development, stressing that the change was due to the poor state of the Kaduna stadium pitch which may not be ready before the ‘must-win’ duel with Libya.

“The match will now hold in Uyo owing to the poor condition of the pitch which cannot be ready before of match day.

“In accordance with the rules of the competition, we have communicated the change in venue to the Libyan Football Federation (LFF) and it is a good development that the team is also returning to a familiar environment in Uyo,” he explained last night.

The development will enable the Super Eagles return to the stadium where they achieve 100% record during the last World Cup qualifying matches to Russia 2018 tournament but the team lost its opening match of the ongoing AFCON 2019 qualifying match 0-2 to South Africa at same stadium.