Stakeholders’ Agenda For Pinnick After Triumphant Entry Into FIFA Council
The rise of the president of Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick in football administration continued on March 12 when he was elected into the Executive Committee of the Federation of International Football Associations, FIFA, the highest decision making body of world football.
At the elections held during the 43rd General Assembly of the Confederation of African Football, CAF, in Rabat Morocco, the Nigerian football administrator floored his only rival, incumbent Walter Nyamilandu of Malawi 48 votes to 8 to become only the third Nigerian after Oyo Orok Oyo and Dr. Amos Adamu to occupy the exalted position.
Before now, two other Nigerians, Chief Segun Odegbami, a former captain of the then Green Eagles and Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima, a former Chairman of the then NFA had failed in their respective bids to ascend to the position in FIFA.
Therefore, the success of Pinnick which is coming on the heels of similar victories recorded recently by Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina and Prof. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala on the global stage is viewed in some quarters as Nigeria’s show of might and influence in the comity of nations.
However, some Nigerians are indifferent about the triumphant entry of Pinnick in FIFA Council as they cite the continuous decline in Nigerian football under leadership of the Delta State born administrator as reason for their apathy.
For such critics, his ascension to the zenith of world football governance is for selfish interest as such there is no cause for too much celebration. His opponents have insisted he didn’t do enough to be rewarded with such responsibility in FIFA.
Despite the divided opinions, some Nigerian football stakeholders are busy with agenda setting for the member of FIFA Executive Council who is elected for a four -year tenure.
Although stakeholders who spoke to Trust Sports set different agendas for Pinnick, they were unanimous in their assertion that he should use his wealth of experience and position in FIFA to bring about the development of football in Nigeria and Africa in general.
Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima, a Patron of the Nigeria Olympics Committee and former chairman of the Nigerian Football Association wants Pinnick to enlighten FIFA on the peculiarities of football administration in Africa.
He said once FIFA is made to understand that in Africa, football is funded almost hundred per cent by the government, there will be reduction in threats to ban member nations over what FIFA perceives to be government interference.
“The benefits that will come to Nigeria from Pinnick’s election should be seen beyond getting Nigerians to occupy committee positions in FIFA. I think we have passed that stage. That won’t add anything to our football.
“The most important thing is that he should let FIFA understand our peculiarities. Most times, FIFA overlooks the fact that Nigeria or third world countries generally have peculiar situations as compared to Europe or the advanced nations.
“FIFA always talks about government interference in African football but it is the responsibility of Africans in the Executive Council to clear this misunderstanding.
“In Africa, governments still fund football so it is not possible for anyone to deny them a say. I, therefore, want him to make FIFA understand our peculiarities and not to clamp down on us in the name of government interference,” said Galadima.
On his part, the Chairman of FCT Football Association, Adam Mouktar Mohammed said time has come for the existing gap between European and African football to be closed.
He said African football needs to be re-engineered and the new leadership of CAF should do everything to bring about the much desired changes.
He, therefore, urged Pinnick to collaborate with his colleagues to ensure that they come up with new strategies and plans to grow the game.
“We need more qualified manpower education, development and training for administrators, coaches, referees, players.
“We need more standard infrastructure like football pitches and quality academies. There is also the need to adopt top tactical and technical approaches to teach the next generation,” he said.
Mouktar also noted that while new football technologies like Video Assistant Referee have been adopted and are in use in Europe, Africa is yet to start.
The FCT FA chairman maintained that as one of the representatives of Africa in FIFA, Pinnick should instigate actions that would help in bridging the yawning gaps.
One of Mohammed’s predecessors, Emmanuel Attah also said “As a Nigerian, my Agenda is for him to ensure that Nigeria takes her rightful place in world football. This he can achieve by carrying out a holistic restructuring of our football leagues (being also the NFF president) – from the amateur to the professional level.
“Nigeria is full of talents. We have to showcase these talents to the world. There is, therefore, the need to secure TV rights internationally, not just locally.
“He can now use his position to channel more funds for developmental purposes to Nigeria. We need to be practically serious about developing our grassroots football so he can influence the setting up of more FIFA projects in Nigeria.
Attah also called on Pinnick to “Use his position to secure quality training programs for our football coaches and administrators and fight for more World Cup slots for Africa as well as improved funding for member nations.”
A former Katsina State Director of Sports, Alhaji Aliyu Kofar-Soro also admonished Pinnick to do away with selfish tendencies and work for the development of Nigerian football.
Unlike Galadima, he called on Pinnick to ensure that more Nigerians are given committee appointments in FIFA.
“Pinnick is the third Nigerian to occupy that exalted position. We are expecting so much from him. He should strive to surpass the performances of his predecessors. He rode on the back of Nigeria to achieve his ambition so he should make sure that he works hand in hand with his colleagues from CAF to bring football development to the country.
“He shouldn’t be selfish. And he must avoid corruption in order to protect the good image of Nigeria. Instead, he should work harder to get more Nigerians into FIFA Executive Committees so that in future, they also will rise to be there,” he said.
Another football stakeholder who set a compelling agenda for Pinnick was the former Commissioner of Sports in Gombe State, Malam Farouk Yarma who said the NFF president should encourage corporate sponsorship of the game.
“We are lagging behind in many aspects of the game. Our football needs proper funding. This is a major challenge that he should help tackle.
“I want him to ensure complete commercialization of our domestic football by getting corporate investors involved,” said the proprietor of FC Yarmalight of Gombe.
Like Kofar-Soro, Yarma also implored Pinnick to build capacities of other Nigerians by making ways for them to be selected to serve in the various committees in FIFA.