The die is cast, the moment of decision is nigh and in just one year or so from now, the drummer boys will gather, ready to beat the drums of war ahead of what promises to be the fiercest and toughest NFF presidential elections ever.
It promises lots of fireworks, the daggers will be out full length and this time, no one will be spared according to a top inside source.
From the North East, to the North West and North Central, the familiarity visits have begun. The scheming game has intensified as meetings have started stretching into the dark.
It all began on the first day of the league season, when over 23 State FA chairmen converged in Kano State.
After that match between the hosts Kano Pillars and FC Ifeanyi Ubah, which ended rather abruptly, a congregation of FA chairmen from the North, spiced up by the presence of Nigeria Referees Association president, Tade Azeez and Chairman of Association of professional footballers of Nigeria APFON, Dahiru Sadi, met with the Kano State governor and the agenda on the day was how to return football administration to the North.
The North can boast of at least 22 votes from the 44 available and for now. Two men are the hottest delegates in town, Alhaji Mohammed Alkali and Chidi Okenwa. As FA chairmen of Nasarawa and Enugu states and also Chairmen of the Nigeria Nationwide and National Leagues respectively,
Both are proud owners of two votes each, out of the 44 available and as we speak both are courted by all and sundry like beautiful brides in their prime, all, in their desperate bid to sway them over to their sides in good time ahead of the elections.
…But who wants Amaju’s seat?
The incumbent, Melvin Amaju Pinnick (MAP) could become the first man in history to return for a second term in office.
Amaju describes himself as the anointed one. I am God’s anointed and the chosen one he said after dusting Mucharafou Anjorin of Benin Republic to the CAF executive committee seat.
Amaju has become very powerful in only a matter of months after emerging as a member of the exalted FIFA organising committee, CAF executive committee and now, chairman of CAF organising and media committees, two of the most respected committees in CAF.
He emerged NFF president in September 2014, and has done so well to keep his team intact and very united. He recently embarked on rigorous marketing drive to make the NFF buoyant again with the recent signing of the 2.5 billion naira Aiteo deal.
However, he still has a case at the Supreme Court to contend with as the Chris Giwa faction all turned up in court last week only to see the judge adjourn their plea to relist a case that have dragged on for over two years.
By December when the case will come up again, the World Cup ticket must have been secured and the pressure certainly will reduce on the shoulders of a man who has battled with forces far and near to get to the very pinnacle of world football politics.
He believes he has his soldiers fully behind him but daily; there are cracks in the walls as new groups have begun to emerge.
Still his strongest ally and supporter, is Chairman of the League Management Company, Shehu Dikko, a man who has refused to join forces with the opposition to fight a friend he has grown to love and accept.
The North sees Shehu as the ideal candidate to wrestle powers from Pinnick but his continued reluctance is gradually forcing them to change strategy and think of a plan B.
What is the plan B? For now, three options are available.
The first is for the North to align with a strong political warhorse from the South West who has told everyone that cares to listen that he will emerge the next NFF president.
This former NFF General Secretary is a silent planner but also a very intelligent politician. He contested against Pinnick in the September 2014 elections and has embarked on a constant pilgrimage to the North in the last two months in his bid to fraternise with the power blocks and get them support his presidential ambition.
The Option Two: A few of the Northerners are also dancing with a strong billionaire from the East who is fast emerging as one of the most powerful football administrators in Africa.
He has a club, he is building a sports village in his home town in Anambra state and he has a football club and remains one of just two private clubs owners in the NPFL.
He took over ten FA chairmen to London last year in continuation of his companies’ partnership pact with West Ham United football club.
He has kept very close ties with the real power blocks in the North and he is gradually infiltrating the rank and files among them in a bid to finally getting them to support his presidential ambition.
He is a man who goes for whatever he wants and gets it, so his influence and power as an emerging APC stalwart can never be under estimated.
Already, one very strong NFF executive committee member is being positioned to run with him as his vice president and he has vowed to drag twenty or more delegates along in this fresh adventure.
The third option is looking like the most workable even though the pilot flying this plane has continued to deny interest or acceptance. He is described by many as the ‘Jagaban’ of Nigeria football. A friend of many and enemy to none.
He smiles at every joke and offers a handshake when necessary. He is loved by the media, worshipped by his very close associates and respected by all.
Across board, this man is gradually building an empire that will in no time catapult him to the very top of the ladder.
He tells one anytime he is asked that he has no ambition ofbecoming the NFF president and that he is more comfortable as a king maker.
Indeed he is a kingmaker because he attends every function from naming ceremony to birthdays, to graduation and marriages ceremonies. He doles out money to the rich and poor and carries all the northern FA chairmen along in this his emerging football empire.
He is a threat to anyone if only he decides to run for the NFF presidential seat.
There is the unseen hand from the presidency that could change everything and pick a candidate loyal to the ruling party as NFF president.
There is also the story of an emerging strong ally between some members of the present board who already smell foul play and members of the Giwa team to truncate the process before the 2018 World Cup.
We also hear that a group is compiling documents to get the EFCC to disrupt the process and put a few people behind bars few weeks to the election.
All these options are open for consideration as the 2018 NFF elections draws closer.
For now though, everyone prefers to stay quiet as if all is well as they go about their scheming and politicking in the dark.