Barely three weeks to a potentially explosive CAF Elections in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, is the tension already heightened in Nigeria with the diverging opinion of the sports minister and the NFF president.
Last week, Amaju Pinnick, the NFF president who is seeking for a position in the CAF Executive Committee, told CNN of his support for Madagascar’s Ahmad (Ahmad) who is giving Issa Hayatou the fiercest challenge since the 70 year old assumed power as CAF President 29 years ago.
Since the contest for CAF Presidency has assumed a high tension political status, Nigeria’s sports minister, Solomon Dalung issued a counterstatement that Nigerian government was not opposed to Issa Hayatou’s re-election bid.
This is now followed up with another statement from nine Nigerian members of CAF sub committees, countering the views of Amaju Pinnick.
The statement was signed among others by General Domnic Oneya, Dr. Amos Adamu, Sani Lulu Abdulahi and Aminu Maigari who at one time or the other led the Nigerian football governing body.
Also in the list of signatories are: Amanze Uchegbulam, Bolaji Ojooba, Paul Bassey, Aisha Falode and current board member, Chris Green
The statement reads: “The attention of Nigerian members of CAF has been brought to bear on a publication purportedly issued by the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Mr Amaju Pinnick declaring support for Mr Ahmad of Madagascar in the forthcoming CAF elections.
“Since that publication and the attendant ripples in the African continent, we have consulted widely within the executive of the NFF, the sports ministry and indeed football stakeholders in Nigeria and discovered to our dismay that there is no evidence where Mr Pinnick was mandated to commit this country to supporting Mr Ahmad
“Mr 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 of which we are well grounded and versed in.
“CAF Elections are not about individuals. Countries support their candidates, finance such elections, set up various committees led by ministers, diplomats and football people to lobby and canvass across the continent in high level diplomatic sojourns armed with manifesto publications and letters of introduction etc. Regrettably, we cannot claim to have done any of the above, yet the election is less than a month away.”
“No Nigerian member of CAF has been consulted nor informed out of courtesy about the ambitions of the NFF President.
“We do not remember Mr Ahmad visiting Nigeria to solicit or canvass for votes nor do we have any record of Mr Ahmad’s pedigree in the running of football in Africa that would have led Mr Pinnick to dangerously throw all of Nigeria’s eggs in his basket. We stand dangerously threatened.
“The same cannot be said of CAF President Issa Hayatou, FIFA Senior Vice President, who overtime has been a pillar of support and true friend of Nigerian football and whose service to the round leather game cannot be disputed given the giant strides that football in the continent has taken especially in the areas of sponsorship and partnership, and the spread of the game to all nooks and corners of the continent.
“The hosting of the FIFA U-17 competition, in 2009, the election of Nigerians into the CAF and FIFA Executive Committees, (Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo and Dr. Amos Adamu). The resolution of sensitive issues involving our country at FIFA level advantage Nigeria in 2010 are some of the benefits accruing to us from his reign.
“It is to Hayatou and indeed CAF’s credit that as a continent we have survived the FIFA corruption Tsunami.
“Dr Hayatou goes into the March Elections as an overwhelming favourite. Even if he was not, it is a political faux pas to indiscreetly react otherwise, in a terrain where the interest of our football (Nigeria) should be paramount over any personal interest and consideration.
“We, Nigerian members of CAF hereby declare our unalloyed support for President Hayatou and his leadership of CAF, one that has brought great development to the game in Africa, including the hosting of the FIFA World Cup on Africa soil for the first time.”
The NFF president, Amaju Pinnick declined comments when Sportsvillagesquare.com sought his views.