Amaju Pinnick is a history maker, an achiever, as his posters announced before the September 30 Nigeria Football Federation [NFF] that took place in Katsina last Thursday.
Though many would say he has overachieved, especially with the manner in which he won his second term – the pertinent question would be ‘what has Pinnick done for Nigerian football lately that the NFF Congress presented him with another four years?’
No man or woman has won two consecutive terms in office since the body overseeing football in Nigeria came to be in 1945 and was affiliated with FIFA in 1960. Over the last two decades, men that have held the position of NFF President have been disgraced from their jobs, ignominiously castigated and on some occasions have even had to endure jail term.
But this should surprise nobody with Nigeria’s penchant for playing politics that is a winner-takes-all contest.
It was a landslide in Katsina – with the Delta State-born administrator winning 34 out of the 44 votes cast [over 77% of cast votes], which showed a critical acclaim across the country but what has Pinnick really done for Nigeria lately?
The general indices for any post would be whether the incumbent met the goals stated at the beginning of the administration through their manifesto though there are some intangibles, which cannot be isolated and measured.
What is clear is that the NFF does not boast a publicly tangible map for Nigerian football.
The non-existence of such a map ensured the election was based almost entirely on personality and charisma, qualities Pinnick boasts of in abundant quantities compared to the three men that battled against him – former Eagles defender, Taiwo Ogunjobi, former NFF president, Aminu Maigari, and the relatively unknown Chinedu Okoye.
In the days that followed the end of the 2018 World Cup, Pinnick battled the FIFA-suspended Chris Giwa and by proxy the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, who insisted on the eve of the election that no such contest was on the calendar.
Pinnick has said he will ensure that his victory does not produce greater schisms within the NFF but that should not be his most important aim as he embarks on the second four-year stint.
His first task when he was elected in 2014 was to douse a FIFA rage and a mishandling of then Eagles coach, the late Stephen Keshi and various other complex challenges that could have seen the country banned and it ended in 2018 with another FIFA rage, that had to be quelled by the Presidency – no less!
The major non-starter for the Pinnick administration in the last four years has been the decline of local football competitions and tournaments. Where the Super Eagles have become awash with quality and quantitative sponsorships, the Nigeria Professional Football League, the bastion of football development has seen its ranking coefficient plummet, elaborated with the Super Eagles boasting of just one player from the league at the 2018 World Cup.
After his re-election, Pinnick said, “We just have to do what we need to do and first of the things we want to do is to initiate reforms for our statute. There are some things we need to capture in our statute that will reflect true reconciliation.” True, the statutes may need amending but more importantly, the new board needs to amend its meaning of progress in the game.
Currently, there is an audible sigh of relief from the football fraternity because the elections concluded peacefully and were rancor-free. There is then the belief that the underhand challenges have mitigated progress have come full circle; Pinnick should now be free to embark on developing and not just getting already developed players by other countries into the senior national team, the Super Eagles.
To help Pinnick achieve progress in his second stint are Seyi Akinwumi, who continues as first Vice President and Ibrahim Musa Gusau, who will represent the 37 association chairmen on the board. The others are Felix Agu, Emmanuel Eda, Yusuf Ahmed Fresh, Suleiman Kwande, Babagana Kali, Musa Duhu for North East and Ganiyu Majekodumi.
If truly, this will be “the turning point in Nigerian football”, Pinnick must draw up a map, and make it public so that he can be held properly accountable in 2022. Whatever cannot be measured cannot be improved!