BY KUNLE SOLAJA.
A battle of epic proportion is in the making as familiar juggernauts and a dark horse go into confrontation for the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation, the most coveted position in Nigeria’s sports industry.
According to a media release from the NFF secretariat, the coast is now clear for contestants into the next four-year administrative cycle of the board. It is not a general election, but it is one that has impact on the generality of the Nigerian citizenry.
Football still remains the glue that binds the socially, economically, ethnically, religiously and politically divided Nigerians. But their fate will be decided by an electoral college of 44 comprising 37 FA chairmen, four heads of the national football leagues, the chairmen of the coaches’ and players’ associations.
From this Friday, it six days to the event slated for Katsina on Thursday. The NFF Secretariat officially released the list of candidates this Friday even though earlier in the week, the list had been trending in various social media.
Top on the position being sort is that of the President where the incumbent, Amaju Melvin Pinnick is contesting with his immediate predecessor in office, Alhaji Aminu Maigari.
Also contesting is Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi, an influential board member in the 1996-2010 administrative cycle and a General Secretary from 2002 to 2005. Th
Chinedu Okoye, proprietor of amateur league club, Bimo FC completes the field.
The position of the senior vice president is being contested by two members of the current board who are also from the South West Zone.
Seyi Akinwunmi, a lawyer and grassroots football promoter is the incumbent first vice president of the NFF as well as chairman of the oldest football association in the country, the Lagos FA.
He is been challenged by Otunba Sunday Dele-Ajayi, who apart from been a current board member, is also the chairman of Ondo State FA.
For the position of Chairman of Chairmen, it is to be seen how far the power of incumbency can go as incumbent, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau will battle club proprietor, Dr. Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah.
The other contestants are seeking positions as board members. They include
Alhaji Sharif Rabiu Inuwa, a member of the present Board who is the only candidate from the North West.
The battle in the North Central has been somewhat narrowed with the withdrawal of FCT FA chairman Musa Talle. However, Alhaji Ahmed Yusuf ‘Fresh’ and Hon. Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande, ranking members of the Board, have to contend with Alhaji Busari Ishola, chairman of Kwara State FA.
Similarly, incumbents Babagana Kalli and Musa Duhu from the North East have to contend with Farouk Yarma Adamu.
In the South East, Hon. Chidi Ofor Okenwa (presently Chairman of the Nigeria National League), will vie with Enyimba FC chairman, Chief Felix Anyansi-Agwu (ranking Member of Board); Barrister Jude Obikwelu (Vice Chairman, Anambra State FA); Sir Emmanuel Ochiagha (Vice Chairman, Imo State FA) and; High Chief Emeka Inyama (former Chairman of the NNL and former Chairman of NFF Marketing and Sponsorship, and also Chairman of NPFL side Abia Warriors).
From the South West, only Alhaji Ganiyu Majekodunmi, chairman of Ogun State FA, is seeking an Executive Committee member position. From the South South, Oswald Atuake from Cross River State is up against Emmanuel Ibah, chairman of the Akwa Ibom State FA.
According to NFF, FIFA will send a top ranking official as observer to the elections.