CAF Presidential Election: Football Power Players, NFF, Sports Minister Divided Over Hayatou



By Augustine Akhilomen

The forthcoming Presidential election into the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF) seat is gradually developing immense heat in Nigeria as some of the big players in the country have come in defence of the incumbent President, Issa Hayatou after Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick’s declaration of interest for Madagascar FA candidate, Ahmad Ahmad.

Last week, Pinnick had urged the current CAF President to step down from a position that he held since 1988, in a bid to give room for a fresh candidate that would take the cause of the continent forward.

His decision has been kicked against by some power players such as former FIFA/CAF Match Commissioner, Retired General Dominic Oneya, FIFA/CAF executive Committee member, Amos Adamu, NFF member, Amanze Uchebulam, former NFF presidents, Sani Lulu Abdullahi and Aminu Maigari, FIFA/CAF coordinator, match commissioner, Paul Bassey and Aisha Falode, who have questioned his early support for Ahmad without due consultation.

They argued that Hayatou remained the credible candidate that could promote the interest of all federations in Africa, of which Nigeria has been a major beneficiary. They also said that Pinnick as an individual has a right to declare support for whoever he pleases but when such support is made in the name of Nigeria then there is need for extreme caution given the political colouration of CAF elections which we are well grounded and versed.

The group also feel that it will be height of insensitivity and dangerous politics on the part of NFF president to just throw his support for Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar, as against Issa Hayatou, just because of his differences with the new FIFA leadership.

In the same vein, the Sports Minister, Bar. Solomon Dalung has called on the attention of the NFF president, Amaju Pinnick to be watchful and be sensitive of the result of his decision after his open declaration for Ahmad.

Dalung’s point of call may have come in response to some of the major power players’ views considering the fact that they hold different positions in CAF. The Sports Minister opined that Nigeria would first consider regional interests before every other consideration.

Despite gaining support from the chairman of the Media and Publicity committee of the board, Hon. Sulaiman Yahaya-Kwande and a member of the Nigeria Football Federation, Ibrahim Gusau, who pointed out that Pinnick can use his discretion to vote for his choice of candidate.

Gasau revealed that those criticising Pinnick for supporting another candidate apart from Hayatou are selfish because some of them have been in that system for decades and they believe that without Hayatou, they can’t retain their seats.

As it stands, there could be an element of interference in terms of decision-making within the glass house considering the fact that Pinnick alone won’t be allowed to decide the destiny of Hayatou for the CAF position.

The power players could force the former Delta State administrator to thinker towards their own direction and what the country tends to benefit if Hayatou retains his Presidential seat. There is no doubt that since some of the key players belongs to the CAF initiatives, then the impossible would become possible at the end of the day.
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