By Duro Ikhazuagbe
President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick has shelved his ambition to run for CAF presidency slated to hold in Morocco next March.
Instead, the CAF executive committee member has opted to contest for a place in the FIFA Council.
If the former Delta Sports Commission Chairman wins, he will become the third Nigerian after Oyo Orok Oyo (1980 to 1988) and Amos Adamu (2006 to 2010) to occupy the seat.
South Africa Football Association (SAFA) President, Danny Jordan was to seek a re-election to the FIFA Council membership but he too has shelved that ambition to pave way for his compatriot, Patrice Motsepe who has thrown his hat into the ring to wrestle the CAF top job from the grip of Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar.
Interestingly, Pinnick who was one of the top actors in the election of the Malagasy to the CAF leadership after Isa Hayatou’s 29-years vice grip on the position, is backing the South African billionaire who is Africa’s 10th richest man.
If Motsepe wins the election, he automatically becomes a FIFA Council member as a Vice President.
He thus becomes the third person to formally bid for the role, after incumbent Ahmad and Jacques Anouma of Cote d’Ivoire. Two Tunisians- Tarek Bouchamaoui and Wadie Jary. showed intentions, but are yet to make formal bid.
In a statement issued by Pinnick yesterday and titled “My Journey, My Passion, My Intention”, the NFF President explained that “there is no alternative to being true to yourself in seeking to deliver on promises made when seeking office, and this has guided every step of the journey of my life in public service.
“It is this passion, nurtured from adolescence, that has kept me going and working for Nigeria football despite the bricks and bats, the odds, hurdles and obstacles, and man-made challenges that would have seen men of weaker fibre throw in the towel long ago.
“It is this same passion that has made Following consultations far and wide and within the broad spectrum of continental and global footballing interests and concerns, I have decided to be a candidate for the FIFA Council at the next Elective Congress of the Confederation of African Football scheduled for 21st March 2021 in Rabat, Morocco.
“For me, it has never been a matter of personal ambition. Always, it has been the passion for service and desire to change the old ways of things and embrace wholeheartedly the new and exciting, and more innovative and impactful ways.
“I come from a very small minority ethnic group in my native Nigeria, a part of the country known as the Niger Delta, known globally for its combustibility and ruggedness, indeed with a touch of brilliance and resilience. Scores of Nigeria’s most famous football players ever hail from the Delta region, and our football culture is enrapturing. So, I cottoned on to football from an early age.
“From the beginning, even while contributing at the local level, I imagined myself at higher levels, making impact, giving joy to multitudes through this game that means so much to millions, billions of people me put life and limb on the line, 3 years and 8 months ago, for what I believed was a genuine collective desire for change – in the governance of African football.
“In an alignment of forces with kindred spirits, we were able to effect a change at the top of African football administration, tossing out a 29-year old conservative regime. Opportunities and possibilities have been presented to the hierarchy to make positive changes sincethen but these have been nonchalantly, frittered away.
“For more than six years, I have worked very hard, with like minds, to effect a positive change in the administration of football in Nigeria, and this has been attested to by many. As 1st Vice President of CAF and President of the Organizing Committee of the AFCON, I know the hard work and commitment that went into enabling the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt. At great personal risk, I toured all the venues in Egypt, travelling at night most of the time, all to ensure the success of the tournament, yet gave all the credit to the President”, he explained.
He promised to engage each Member Association on the African continent, on their peculiarities and specific needs, and profferappreciably realistic home –grown solutions to these needs and challenges.
“We will travel to these places and engage the chieftains meaningfully and robustly, not for photo opportunities or mere tourism.
Botswana, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Côte d’Ivoire were among the eight countries that refused to give their backing to Ahmad last month when 46 other African FA presidents called on the Malagasy to contest a second term.