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Why Nigeria Must Not Vote Hayatou






Unconfirmed information has been going round that the Nigerian Government has directed the NFF president Amaju Pinnick to vote for Issa Hayatou of Cameroon in Thursday’s presidential election of the confederation.

The statement went further to say that if Hayatou were to get just a single vote in Addis Ababa, it must be that of Nigeria. The ‘joint fight’ by Nigeria and Cameroon against Boko Haram was cited as one of the reasons that Hayatou at 71 and 29 years  as CAF president , must further elongate his tenure to at least 33 years of eight terms.


This is where politics mix with sports. Sports, especially football has a lot of politics and one needs the art of diplomacy to navigate purposefully. Knowledge is also very important. First, there is no way any of Nigeria’s agencies can verify which candidate, Pinnick voted for after the election.

It is not an open ballot election. Article 18 (1) of CAF Statutes says that elections shall be conducted by secret ballot.  We will therefore need our security agencies to invade Addis Ababa and give him a marked ballot paper.

It was argued that Pinnick must vote for Hayatou because he comes from Cameroon, a neighbouring country. Have we forgotten that Nigeria also has a stake in the election? Have we forgotten that Nigeria also needs a seat in the executive committee?

Politics is about give and take. Have we reached out to Hayatou to prevail on him that the Nigerian candidate must also be on the executive committee?

Will Hayatou drop his trusted ally, Moucharafou Anjorin for a Nigerian candidate he does not like?


Are we saying we must forfeit our stake on the executive committee because the other candidate is from a neighbouring country, Benin, and we must also be seen as good neighbours as we are doing with Cameroon?

Has it ever occurred to us that getting a Nigerian into the executive committee should be more important to us than the fate of any other candidate? Is the nations’ foreign policy outlook no longer self-centred?

CAF clocked 60 last month. In its 60 years only two Nigerians ever made it to the executive committee. Should we not be worried about the fact that other countries of lesser football prowess are the ones calling the shots and dominating officiating of matches?

Why must we always take a back seat? Anytime there were natural disasters, FIFA came up financial relief to countries involved, the most recent being the one offered to Liberia because of Ebola  Virus epidemic in that country.

What has Hayatou’s CAF done? In 2003 when Vivian Foe, a Cameroon player slumped and died on the pitch during FIFA Confederation Cup match in Paris, FIFA came up with financial aid to his family. CAF also came up with similar assistance.


No aid from CAF had come to the families of Sam Okwaraji (1989) and Amir Angwe (1995) two Nigerian players who slumped and died in continental qualification for World Cup and African Winners Cup respectively.  Was Foe’s family compensated because of Cameroon connection?

As earlier expressed, at 70, age is no longer on the side of Hayatou. The continent needs a younger and articulate president. The current executive has already signed a long term marketing deal that has tied all football federations’ hands till the year 2028.

Owing to that, Nigeria for instance, cannot sign a TV right for its own international matches.

Hayatou’s CAF has taken all into a joint pot and will dish it out to whoever it pleases. This is currently before an economic crime commission in Egypt, the seat of CAF.



Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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