The President of the Nigeria Football Federation, Amaju Pinnick, is finally settling down to football administration in Nigeria, but his road to becoming the NFF boss was bumpy.
In this interview with PREMIUM TIMIES, the former Delta State Football Association Chairman admits he did spend money during the NFF General Elections that took place in Warri, his hometown in September 2014.
Mr. Pinnick, who is the brother-in-law to the Delta state Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan, however, does not subscribe to insinuations that the money paved way for him, instead he believes his achievements was the deal breaker.
Pinnick speaks on this and how challenging and tasking the NFF office is.
Read the excerpts:
PT: How has it been since you assumed office?
Pinnick: Well, it has been very challenging and tasking but it’s all I’ve always longed for so I’m trying to make the best out of it.
PT: What new policies will you put in place at the Federation?
Pinnick: What are the new things you have observed since we came on? We have done a lot of capacity building, training and re-training, you can see a lot of emphasis on youth and referee development – on leadership training. We started very well, I think the most important thing about this federation is that we are very united, we have a focus.
PT: What do you have to say about the staff and management of the Federation?
Pinnick: We are still studying. Wherever and whatever I get myself involved in, I try not to rush so we are still looking at the A to Z of the administration, so we can see how we can build and also inject some new blood, how we can also improve on the existing ones.
PT: What is your take on Nigerians emerging as the best players in some foreign leagues?
Pinnick: We’ve always had the best players in major leagues even Finidi George, (Emmanuel) Babayaro and I don’t think it’s new but we are very excited about it.
PT: Why do you think the female team, Falcons, is yet to be hosted by the Federal Government?
Pinnick: You know, the government has been entangled in a lot of politicking, this is a political year and it’s indeed a political period. The President is very keen on it and very soon they’ll call us to organize it; that I can assure you very frankly. Female football has given us a lot of prominence and prestige we cannot ignore.
PT: When you assumed office, you sacked Keshi, but later made a U-Turn and reappointed him, why?
Pinnick: It was a decision of the technical committee, the director said it was too short so we brought him back. All those ones are history now, his contracts are being reviewed and any moment from now he will get a new contract.
PT: It was alleged that you bought your way back to the board?
Pinnick: It’s a calculated ambiguity, how do you buy your way? Out of those people that contested who has a richer CV than me in terms of youth development, federations, State FA. I ran the best FA in Nigeria, a state FA that has built a football house that is worth over 200 million naira without collecting a kobo from the government. A state FA that has the longest sponsorship deal, a state FA that has trained over 500 coaches, a state FA with the best state league. You can go on and on and that’s at the state level.
Of course, in politics you must use money not to bribe your way but to provide logistics. You will provide money to invite people and lodge them in a hotel, isn’t that money? That’s not to say I’m bribing delegates, in politics you must use money to put a lot in place, the question should be –Did I get here by merit? Those allegations (of bribery) were not true. If you ask, yes, I used money to win elections, not to bribe but provide logistics. All the people that voted for me nobody (none) has ever come out to say I regretted voting for Pinnick, everybody is excited.
PT: What plans do you have for the FIFA Grant?
Pinnick: We have done what we need to do. We have sent the one that needs to go to the government. At the NFF, we have huge debt, so we need to pay up a lot of debt considering the fact that we have a lot of things we want to do with money, we have to look at self-funding.
PT: What are the legacies you want to leave behind?
Pinnick: It’s rather too early to say that, in three years, I should be able to answer you properly.