BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
The Africa Hall in Addis Ababa is already used to high tension wired politics. It is the seat of African Union and it was there that the old OAU was founded and had held most of it meetings attended by African heads of states.
Another set of politicians are meeting there on Thursday morning. These are the African football politicians who are holding, perhaps, the most volatile election to constitute the executive of the 60-year old Confederation of African Football.
Palpable tension pervades the various hotels delegates to the CAF 39th Ordinary Assembly are staying as the clock ticks down to the 9am time of election of officers to direct the confederation’s affairs for the 2017 -2021 cycle. According to sources in the Sheraton Hotel, Addis Ababa abode of Issa Hayatou and most members of the CAF Executive Committee, there was apprehension as it is feared that Ahmad of Madagascar may have made inroad into the number of votes they expected.
“I must tell you, the Hayatou camp is jittery”, an Egyptian staff of CAF remarked in a message sent to Sports Village Square. According to information from the president’s camp, Hayatou was heard telling loyalists that he would not step down, no matter the odds.
Benin Republic’s Moucharafou Anjorin, one of the most trusted allies of Hayatou was seeing talking to Nigerian delegates, pleading they should back Hayatou and himself in the election and should not put powers in the hands of strangers.
Obinna Ogba, a senator and chairman of the senate committee on sports, is the leader of the Nigerian delegation to the CAF General Assembly. But it is Amaju Pinnick that has the voting power.
Other Nigerians at the assembly are Solomon Ogba, the Athletics Federation of Nigeria’s boss, NFF senior vice president, Seyi Akinwunmi, General Secretary Sanusi Mohammed and Hon. Nduka Irabor.
Ifeayi Ubah, the chairman of FC IfenyiUbah was being expected, even though there were fears he might not arrive before the election.
Kayode Tijani, Nigerian journalist in Addis Ababa, reported that the spirits of delegate in the Nigerian camp was high.
He dismissed as rumour, the stories going round that the sports minister has directed Amaju Pinnick to vote for Hayatou.
Most of the loyalists of Ahmad of Madagascar are staying in Hilton Hotel in Addis Ababa. FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, who did not get the support of Issa Hayatou in the FIFA election last year, appears to be the rallying person for the anti-Hayatou forces.
Ahead of the election, Nigeria’s Amaju Pinnick, according to Kayode Tijani who is on ground at Addis Ababa, is very confident.