The Federal Government on Thursday threw its weight behind Amaju Pinnick’s candidacy for a seat in the FIFA Executive Council, further boosting the chances of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) president.
While addressing a press briefing in Abuja, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Nebolisa Anako, noted that Amaju’s ambition will reposition the country on the global football map. He said his election will have a positive impact on African football.
Anako appealed to Nigerians to back the candidacy of the Delta-born football administrator to ensure that Nigeria and Africa’s bid to assert its position as a strong voice in world football is achieved.
The Permanent Secretary indicated that his triumph would follow in the glorious steps of illustrious compatriots Dr Akinwunmi Adesina (re-elected as President of Africa Development Bank) and Dr Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (first female/ first African Director-General of the World Trade Organization) in recent times.
“If the NFF President wins the position, it would not be a victory for the Federal Government and all Nigerians alone, but the African continent. He would be a great ambassador of our great country if elected into the FIFA Council. As a member of the CAF Executive, Pinnick is aware of the task ahead and the Federal Government’s support to the actualization of his dream,” Anako said
“On behalf of the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Muhammadu Buhari GCFR, and all Nigerians, we hereby pledge our unflinching support to Mr Pinnick because his victory would be our collective victory,” he said.
“(Sports Minister) Mr Dare believes Amaju can use his position and connections in CAF and FIFA to help promote and develop Nigeria and African football in all ramifications. Let us be resolute and firm in our support…This is no time to stand on the fence, but to be partakers in the scheme of things.”
Vice President, Mallam Shehu Dikko, who stood in for Pinnick (who is already in Morocco), thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his usual strong support for the NFF and Nigerian Football generally since coming into office and assured that once victorious, Pinnick would continue in his usual way of influencing the appointment of Nigerians into FIFA and CAF committees and administrations, as he did while he was Vice President of CAF and has been doing as Member, CAF Executive Committee and Member, Organizing Committee for FIFA Competitions.
“As a FIFA Council Member, Mr Pinnick will also be automatically a Member of the CAF Executive, which gives Nigeria a voice at both global and continental levels,” he said.
“This is not a Pinnick project, but a Nigeria project. If countries like Guinea and Madagascar can have people in the FIFA Council, there is no reason why a big football-playing nation like Nigeria should not.”
President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Engineer Habu Ahmed Gumel, gave a thumbs-up to Pinnick’s candidacy, saying “the FIFA Council seat is important to us, Nigeria and Africa, and we enjoin all Nigerian football stakeholders to be loud in their support for Mr Pinnick.”
NFF General Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi enjoined all football stakeholders to join hands with the Federal Government, the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports and the NFF to give Mr Pinnick strong support in his bid for the FIFA Council seat
Earlier in the year, the NFF boss had announced that he has been cleared to contest for a seat in FIFA’s Executive Council.
“The FIFA Review Committee has extremely stringent integrity, eligibility and security checks, and it is the first major step in seeking a seat at World Football’s governing table,” he tweeted on his official handle. “With that extremely important test passed, I can continue to push for more representation of the African continent in world football.”
He explained that since he took over as president of the football body, he has always maintained that “Nigeria and Africa deserve to be more visible in the administration of World Football and this is still part of that quest.
“Before our board came, Nigeria football was almost 100% Govt-dependent. Now, we have attained 60% self-sufficiency with our drive to be totally financially independent still in effect. Hopefully, the next President of the Federation will build on what we have done and are doing, while ensuring that the relationships we have nurtured with Corporate Nigeria over time continues.”
While calling for support from Nigerians in his quest, the former Delta Football Association (DFA) chairman believe his experience over the years “has been truly invaluable and I know I can contribute a lot more to the World game while championing African interests as well.”