Amaju Melvin Pinnick, the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF President, has again won the 2018 NFF’s elections which was held in Katsina, on Thursday September 20, 2018.
The Delta State-born soccer technocrat and administrator, who is also the incumbent President of the Nigeria Football Federation and First Vice President of the Confederation of African Football, made history when he broke a six decade jinx, as he defeated Aminu Maigari, his predecessor in 2014 and also former 1st Vice President of CAF, Taiwo Ogunjobi, a former Nigeria international defender and Chinedu Okoye, proprietor of amateur league club, Bimo FC of Lafia, Nassarawa State.
Amaju Pinnick got 34 votes. Aminu Magari got 8 votes. Taiwo Ogunjobi 2 votes. Chinedu Okoye got 0 vote
Amaju Pinnick, who defied all odds to break the long standing jinx, in becoming the first man to be re-elected as president of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), has entered the annals on Nigeria and World football chronicles, by becoming the first back-to-back head of Nigeria football administration in 61 years. The last person to have a back-to-back tenure was the Late Fr. Dennis Slattery who retained his seat in 1957 after being voted in a year earlier. At the time, election into the then NFA was annual.
44 delegates from states football federation and other bodies including coaches, referees associations and players unions, participated in the election which took place in Katsina and was widely preceded by threats of annulment due to court rulings and even apathy from the sports minister, Barrister Solomon Dalung, who has been reported in some quarters to say that he would not recognize the result of the Katsina election.
The chairman of the Electoral committee for the election, Muhammed Katu announced the results of the election, which was witnessed by FIFA representatives, Luca Piazza and Solomon Mudege, among football chiefs who attended the NFF election Congress.
Even in defeat, both Alhaji Aminu Maigari and Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi displayed spirit of sportsmanship. They embraced Amajuoritse Pinnick, the winner of the presidential race. Even the re-elected president was also magnanimous in victory. “No winner, no vanquished, was the popular refrain he proclaimed after an overwhelming majority of the Congress of Nigerian Football re-elected him.
In his congratulatory remarks, former NFF Chairman Aminu Maigari said: “The vote has come and gone, and football is the winner. The focus is football development. I bear no grudge and I must say that I am indeed delighted by the strides that Amaju Pinnick has taken since taking over from me four years ago. He is like a son and I am proud of him.”
In his acceptance statement made public to the press, the re-elected NFF President, Pinnick paid glowing tribute to President Muhammadu Buhari, in whose home state, the election was held. He also extended his sincere gratitude to other officials of the Federal Government and specifically thanked Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, the Attorney General of the Federation and Minister of Justice, the Chief of Staff to the President, the DG, Department of State Services and the Inspector General of Police for their tremendous support for the board, for their huge efforts in sustaining association football in Nigeria and ensuring a peaceful atmosphere for the election.
“We respectfully ask for more support as we start a new tenure, during which we aim to consolidate on our vision of building a sustainable football culture for our dear country, and continue the great march towards ensuring financial independence for the NFF.
“We owe this country a lot, and we are committed to working hard to give back so much to it. We intend to set up a reconciliation team in a few days to reach out to aggrieved members of the football family with a view to bringing everyone under one umbrella for the purpose of a united front in the pursuit of the greater good for Nigerian Football,” Pinnick promised even as he pledged more focus on youth development programs in his second tenure.
The NFF President equally thanked Governors Ifeanyi Okowa and Godwin Obaseki of Delta and Edo States respectively, for their understanding and support, as well as players and officials of the various National Teams for their efforts in doing Nigeria proud at all times.
The Katsina NFF Congress also saw the election and composition of the complete Board to manage Nigeria Football affairs for the next three years.
Incumbent 1st Vice President, Seyi Akinwunmi scored a comprehensive victory in retaining his seat, bagging 41 of the votes to defeat challenger Sunday Dele-Ajayi, who got just two votes. One vote was deemed invalid.
In other votes, incumbent Ibrahim Musa Gusau retained his seat as Chairman of Chairmen on the Board, polling 42 of 44 votes, following the withdrawal of Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah on the floor of the election.
Ahmed Yusuf Fresh and Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande retained their seats as members on the NFF board, in a keenly contested that went to three rounds. Chairman of Kwara State Football Association, Busari Ishola was eliminated in the first round after polling only 10 votes, leaving Yusuf and Fresh to vie in the second. Fresh edged it 22-21, and Ishola was then re-instated to challenge
Yahaya-Kwande for the remaining slot from North Central. In the event, Yahaya-Kwande won by 28 votes to 14. Emmanuel Ibah defeated Oswald Atuake 28 votes to 15 to win the remaining slot from the South South (following Pinnick’s re-election), while Ganiyu Majekodunmi and Sharif Rabiu Inuwa were unopposed for the South West and North West slots.
Three candidates slugged it out in the South East, with Enyimba FC chairman Felix Anyansi-Agwu winning the lone slot available (as Chidi Ofo Okenwa still has a seat as Chairman of the Nigeria National League). Anyansi-Agwu polled 32 votes, to nearest challenger Emmanuel Ochiagha’s eight. Jude Obikwelu and Pastor Emeka Inyama, who withdrew from the contest on the floor of the election, still got two votes and one vote respectfully.
FIFA observers Luca Piazza and Solomon Mudege, and CAF observer Sita Sangare witnessed both the opening ceremony and the entire Elective Congress proper. Chairman of the Electoral Committee, Muhammed Sani Katu, a lawyer, who announced the results also swore in the new Board afterwards.
THE NEW NFF EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE
Amaju Pinnick – President
Seyi Akinwnumi – 1stVice President
Shehu Dikko – 2ndVice President
Ibrahim Musa Gusau – Member
Ahmed Yusuf Fresh – Member
Felix Anyansi-Agwu – Member
Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande – Member
Babagana Kalli – Member
Sharif Rabiu Inuwa – Member
Chidi Ofo Okenwa – Member
Aisha Falode – Member
Mohammed Alkali – Member
Musa Duhu – Member
Ganiyu Majekodunmi – Member
Emmanuel Ibah – Member
Mohammed Sanusi – Secretary
The opening ceremony was attended by Chief host, Governor Aminu Bello Masari of Katsina State, who hailed the previous NFF administration led by Pinnick for its major strides over the past four years, even as he highlighted the giant strides and trophies won during their including the FIFA U17 World Cup, Women Africa Cup of Nations, the U23 and U20 Africa Cup of Nations, Olympic football bronze and the recent WAFU U17Cup triumph in Niger Republic.
Governor Masari, a former Speaker of the Nigeria Federal House of Representatives, equally applauded the aggressive marketing drive of the Pinnick-led former administration which has gone a long way in galvanizing a steady move towards financial independence for Nigerian football management, and while pledging that the Government of Katsina State would continue to invest in football development because of the game’s virtues of youth empowerment and meaningful engagement, wished the NFF a happy and peaceful elections.
The Katsina state governor was accompanied to the event by top officials of the Katsina State Government, including the Honourable Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Alhaji Ahmed El-Marzuq, the Chief Judge of Katsina State, Justice Musa Danladi Abubakar, the Commissioner for Sports, Alhaji Abu Dankun and the Grand Khadi, Khadi Hafiz Bakori.
INFANTINO, OKOWA CONGRATULATE PINNICK
Meanwhile, FIFA president, Gianni Infantino has already congratulated the newly elected President of the Nigerian football federation, Amaju Melvin Pinnick after he emerged winner of the elections held in Katsina.
In a letter of congratulations signed by Infantino himself, the FIFA President praised Pinnick’s victory and that of his fellow board members while also wishing them strength to continue the good work they have already started.
Pinnick of course enjoys a fantastic relationship with FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
In his own congratulatory message Sen. Ifeanyi Okowa, the Governor of Delta State, in a press statement made available to newsmen by his Chief Press Secretary, Charles Aniagwu, applauded Mr. Amaju Pinnick on his re-election, noting that the election of the Delta born NFF President did not come to him as a surprise.
According to him, Pinnick has shown dedication to his job, and has contributed immensely to football in Nigeria, particularly, and the world in general, adding that Pinnick’s firm belief in revolutionizing football administration in Nigeria has paid off in his achievements since he was first elected as NFF President in 2014.
The statement reads thus:
“On behalf of the government and people of Delta State, I congratulate you, Mr Amaju Pinnick, an illustrious son of Delta State, on your re-election as NFF President”.
“Your re-election no doubt is a confirmation of the giant strides and contributions you have made in revolutionising football administration globally, adding, “As a sport–passionate nation, Nigerians are proud of the rich assemblage of visionary and dedicated football administrators in the NFF Executive Committee led by Mr Amaju Pinnick”.
“As a state, we are committed to the improvement of schools sports with special focus on football, hence we have reactivated our Headmasters’ and Principals’ cup competitions with the aim of discovering young talents in football and bearing in mind that Delta State is known for its sporting prowess and achievements”.
“With the completion of the Stephen Keshi Stadium Asaba, we are open to partnerships with the NFF and other sport loving organisations to provide a platform which will give further vent to Nigerian football and empower the youths to great career heights.
“It is our prayer that your re-election will further lead to the growth of football in Nigeria, Africa and beyond,” the governor stated
I WON’T RECOGNISE OUTCOME OF NFF ELECTIONS: DALUNG
However, a major voice of dissent has been raised against the re-election of Amaju Pinnick as NFF Chairman and indeed the entire September 19, Katsina election process that brought in the new NFF board.
Solomon Dalung, the Minister of Youth and Sports, has raised his voice and stated categorically that he won’t recognize the outcome of the Katsina elections into the Executive Board of the Nigeria Football Federation.
The Nigeria Sports Minister, who was monitored while speaking on Kaakaki, a popular morning programme one of Nigeria’s leading International Television Networks, Africa Independent Television, AIT, said that his position was based on a contentious Supreme Court order that he claimed annulled the elections that ushered in Amaju Pinnick led board in 2014, and that as far as he was concerned, Pinnick was not even the president of the NFF, as at the time of the election.
“There was no NFF president in the first place. I will only obey the
Supreme Court judgement, which does not recognize Pinnick. Pinnick was not the president of the NFF,” he said.
Nigerian Football politics watchers would recall that Nigeria only just narrowly escaped a FIFA ban over this issue of lingering litigations in the NFF, when the World football governing body confirmed that the country will not be suspended, following the Federal Government’s explanation that Amaju Pinnick-led executive committee remains the legitimate board of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
A statement from FIFA on the matter read: “Following the decision of the Bureau of the FIFA Council of 13 August 2018 concerning the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), FIFA received confirmations that the legitimate leadership of the NFF under President Amaju Melvin Pinnick and General Secretary Mohammed Sanusi has been given back effective control of the NFF and its offices.
“In view of these circumstances, FIFA deems that the conditions set by the decision of the Bureau of the FIFA Council have now been met and consequently the suspension of the NFF will not take effect.
“FIFA will continue to closely monitor the situation in order to ensure that FIFA’s rules and regulations are fully adhered to,” the statement concluded.
Both Giwa and Pinnick have been in and out of courtrooms ever since, 2014 and the genesis of the fight that has marred the first tenure of Pinnick started immediately after Super Eagles second round exit at the World Cup in Brazil in 2014 and with another election into the board of the NFF slated for the following month, the federation’s outgoing President, Alhaji Aminu Maigari was ousted through an emergency congress initiated by the then Sports Minister, Tammy Danagogo.
On July 23 of the same year, eight out of the 13 board members passed a vote-of-no-confidence on Maigari and he was replaced by the 1st Vice President, Mike Umeh who was in charge in acting capacity.
GENESIS OF NFF CRISIS
But with FIFA ban looming and Falconets’ fate of participating at the FIFA Women U-20 World Cup tournament in Canada about to vanish, the rebels within the NFF board were flushed out with the active support of the Department of State Service (DSS) for sanity to return to the administration of the Beautiful Game in the country once more.
FIFA thereafter restored Nigeria back into its fold of football playing nations and with Maigari out of the picture, a supposed level playing field was declared for all contestants.
There was however a snag: The inability of the stakeholders and the Giwa group to agree on the date and venue for the elective congress to usher in a new executive led to two different elections in Abuja and Warri.
The Giwa group who were not sure of getting the majority of the NFF stakeholders, ignored the September 30 FIFA approved congress in Warri and held its own election at Chida Hotel in Abuja where Giwa emerged President of NFF on August 26.
To pre-empt the Warri election from holding, the Giwa group sought and got a court injunction stopping the FIFA approved elective congress from taking place. However, the NFF claimed it did not receive any court order stopping the Warri election from going ahead.
At a well-attended General Assembly at the BrownHill Event Centre in Warri, and with audacious support from the then Delta State Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan, who is also an in-law to Amaju Pinnick as the younger brother to his wife and then first lady Roil, the former Delta State Sports Commission Chairman, was elected the new president of the NFF.
But the Giwa group would not accept, insisting that a court order was flouted in getting Pinnick elected. They went back asking the court to nullify that election. He got judgment in his favour and tried to take over the Glass House.
Pinnick and his board appealed the judgment and won. Not satisfied, Giwa went to the Supreme Court. The apex court however referred the case back to the lower court for retrial.
However, Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, who is from Plateau State like Giwa preferred to carry out what he called the decision of the Supreme Court by asking the Giwa FC proprietor to take over the affairs of the football house even before Pinnick returned home after Eagles crashed out of the World Cup in Russia.
Dalung also claimed that he was carrying out the Supreme Court ruling as interpreted by the office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) and reportedly ignored a directive from the Presidency after another letter had emanated from the AGF office asking the minister to stop further heating of the football polity with his interpretations of the case, claiming the letter did not emanate from President Muhammadu Buhari.
Rather, under police protection, Giwa’s men, occupied the offices of the NFF in Abuja and began making funny appointments that were not going to stand. The Directorate of State Security (DSS) were then called in to flush out Giwa’s men and legitimate General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi, and the staff presumed loyal to the Pinnick board were allowed back to the same offices.
With the militarisation of the NFF offices, almost becoming a recurring decimal, it was just a matter of time before the hammer from FIFA descends heavily on Nigeria.
The intervention of the Presidency, through Vice President Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, saved Nigeria from the latest FIFA axe, which by the last count, was the fifth time the country will be at the brink of another suspension since the 1989 FIFA two-year ban from age-graded competitions.
THE END OF THE MATTER?
Meanwhile, prominent legal practitioner and Director, Strategic Communications for President Muhammadu Buhari’s 2019 presidential campaigns, Festus Keyamo (SAN) has stated that the tenure of the former NFF Board which had been the crux of the protracted litigation in the football house has ended on August 26, 2018, since the election that brought the Board on stream was conducted on August 26, 2014.
Keyamo, who is also the head of the legal team representing Amaju Pinnick in Court made this clarification in a Press statement, which not only clarified the matter that the Supreme Court merely asked Chris Giwa, the other claimant to the NFF Presidency afyet the 2014 election, to go back to the Federal High Court sitting in Jos to relist his case against the Pinnick-led NFF Board, it also added that the Apex court rejected the plea by the appellants to have the case heard and determined on its merit.
The excerpt of the Press release which highlights Keyamo’s conclusion reads: “And lastly, for the information of the public, the tenure of office which is the subject of dispute of the case filed by Giwa’s group since 2014, lapses on the 26th of August, 2018…”
The Katsina September 18, elections is now expected to finally lay the NFF wahala to rest once and for all and the next action for the newly-elected NFF President Amaju Pinnick will be his formal inauguration as the 1st Vice President of CAF, at the body’s Extraordinary General Assembly in Egypt on Sunday, 30th September, 2018.