Nigeria Football Federation president Amaju Pinnick has announced his intention to vie for a seat on the FIFA Council, finally ending speculation as to his next move.
There had been speculation the Nigeria FA boss will throw his hat in the ring for next year’s Confederation of African Football (CAF) presidency but that has now been laid to rest with his Monday announcement.
Instead, Pinnick has thrown his weight behind South African Patrice Motsepe who announced his intention to become the next president of the CAF on Monday.
Motsepe is chairman of 2016 African club champions Mamelodi Sundowns and he is the third person to bid for the role, after incumbent Ahmad and Jacques Anouma of Ivory Coast.
In a statement announcing his intentions, Pinnick said he decided to vie for a seat on the FIFA Council “following consultations far and wide and within the broad spectrum of continental and global footballing interests and concerns”.
The 37-member FIFA Council is the main decision-making body of the world football body that sets the vision for FIFA and global football.
Africa has seven members on the Council led by CAF president Ahmad Ahmad who doubles as vice president of the Council by virtue his position as head of African football.
Other members from CAF include onstant Omari from the DR Congo, Egypt’s Hany Abo Rida, Walter Nyamilandu from Malawi, Burundi’s Lydia Nsekera, Guinea’s Almamy Kabele Camara and Tarek Bouchamaoui from Tunisia.
Pinnick will be looking to replace Camara on the Council.
The elections will be held at the Congress of the Confederation of African Football scheduled on 21 March 2021 in Rabat, Morocco.
Below is the full text of his statement.
STATEMENT BY AMAJU MELVIN PINNICK, PRESIDENT OF NIGERIA FOOTBALL FEDERATION AND MEMBER, CAF EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE – NOVEMBER 2020
MY JOURNEY, MY PASSION, MY INTENTION
“Conscience is an open wound; only truth can heal it” – Uthman Dan Fodio.
I have picked the quote above, by the famous Islamic scholar, because it aptly captures the essence of public service and what men must be guided with in administering a sector of intense public interest such as football. There is no alternative to being true to yourself in seeking to deliver on promises made when seeking office, and this has guided every step of the journey of my life in public service.
Following consultations far and wide and within the broad spectrum of continental and global footballing interests and concerns, I have decided to be a candidate for the FIFA Council at the next Elective Congress of the Confederation of African Football scheduled for 21st March 2021 in Rabat, Morocco.
For me, it has never been a matter of personal ambition. Always, it has been the passion for service and desire to change the old ways of things and embrace wholeheartedly the new and exciting, and more innovative and impactful ways.
I come from a very small minority ethnic group in my native Nigeria, a part of the country known as the Niger Delta, known globally for its combustibility and ruggedness, indeed with a touch of brilliance and resilience. Scores of Nigeria’s most famous football players ever hail from the Delta region, and our football culture is enrapturing. So, I cottoned on to football from an early age.
From the beginning, even while contributing at the local level, I imagined myself at higher levels, making impact, giving joy to multitudes through this game that means so much to millions, billions of people. It is this passion, nurtured from adolescence, that has kept me going and working for Nigeria football despite the bricks and bats, the odds, hurdles and obstacles, and man-made challenges that would have seen men of weaker fibre throw in the towel long ago.
It is this same passion that has made me put life and limb on the line, 3 years and 8 months ago, for what I believed was a genuine collective desire for change – in the governance of African football.
In an alignment of forces with kindred spirits, we were able to effect a change at the top of African football administration, tossing out a 29-year old conservative regime. Opportunities and possibilities have been presented to the hierarchy to make positive changes since then but these have been, nonchalantly, frittered away.
For more than six years, I have worked very hard, with like minds, to effect a positive change in the administration of football in Nigeria, and this has been attested to by many. As 1st Vice President of CAF and President of the Organizing Committee of the AFCON, I know the hard work and commitment that went into enabling the 2019 AFCON finals in Egypt. At great personal risk, I toured all the venues in Egypt, travelling at night most of the time, all to ensure the success of the tournament, yet gave all the credit to the President.
At the unexpected turn of events (non-renewal of my tenure as 1st Vice President), I took solace in the words of Romans 8:28: “Everything worketh for good for those who love God.” I stand tall today, that every gospel of change that I preached, has been vindicated.
It is my firm belief that after 63 years of existence, the Confederation of African Football, and by extension African football, should be in a much better position than it is presently.
My focus and vision is to be at a vantage point to contribute immensely to the renaissance of African football and African football administration, through quality contributions at football’s high table. I am aware of the immense plans and programmes of FIFA President, Mr. Gianni Infantino, for the African game, and it will take men of mettle, selflessness, clear and scientific thinking, acuity, sapience and resourcefulness to give him the support he needs to bring all those plans to fruition. In a fast –changing global environment with ever –improving technology, we must be able to adopt and adapt, upscale and upgrade and be fluid in the way we do things in order to stay relevant and competitive.
The previous season, three Africans emerged the top scorers in the English Premier League – the most exciting football league in the world. This underscores the humongous possibilities of the African game, with talents mushrooming everywhere but in need of the right structures to hone those talents, be nurtured and guided on the right path to greatness.
In remote African cities and provinces, nooks and crannies, there are dozens of Mohammed Salahs, Sadio Manes and Pierre Aubameyangs, as well as Wilfred Ndidis and Ahmed Musas to be unearthed, polished and unleashed to make tremendous impact on world football, just like the George Weahs, Tony Yeboahs, Jay Jay Okochas, Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayews, Nwankwo Kanus and Lucas Radebes before them. However, this will take the right kind of people sitting at football’s high table and pushing Africa’s agenda with all their might and mirth, and not mere tourists who sit on the Council for the perks and sitting allowances.
Club football is the lifeblood of the game. Today, the only clubs making the finals of African competitions are almost always from one region. So, you ask, where are those famous African clubs like Canon Sportif and Tonnere Kalala of Cameroon, Hafia of Guinea, ASEC Mimosas and Africa Sports of Cote d’Ivoire, Enugu Rangers and IICC Shooting Stars of Nigeria, Gor Mahia of Kenya, Asante Kotoko and Hearts of Oak from Ghana?
A whole new orientation is imperative in the business of representing our esteemed continent on the FIFA Council. There is urgent and cogent need for farsighted and enlightened solutions, in tandem with the times, rather than inclination to short termism.
I fervently want to work with like minds and men of genuine calibre to restore the pride of the African, exorcise unflattering words like ‘laughing stock’ and ‘scandal’ and replace them, through hard work and enterprise, with ‘respect’ ‘probity’ and ‘transparency’.
I have a burning desire to reconnect with the basic ideals of African football, reconnect with the authentic African values in a way that Africa’s legends who toiled to make Africa great in the game will be proud once more.
We will seek to engage each Member Association on the African continent, on their peculiarities and specific needs, and proffer appreciably realistic home –grown solutions to these needs and challenges. We will travel to these places and engage the chieftains meaningfully and robustly, not for photo opportunities or mere tourism.
We must make very conscious, precise and specific efforts in our desire to attain our goals in launching Africa on the pedestal of greatness. We will escalate actions where necessary and move with the tides and times.
There is a United Nations Declaration that “sport is a veritable tool that could be used for the successful attainment and achievement of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals.” In no sport is this truer than football, with the passion and followership that it attracts, the frenzy it generates among the young and the old, and the availability of television money that can propel the game to new heights.
This is not a time for pursuing vendetta, nourishing animosity or engendering acrimony, but a time for genuine forgiveness, to completely refocus, rebuild, revitalize and rejuvenate the African game and African football administration to earn its due respect in the global sphere. It is a time to imbibe the spirit of oneness and excellence, and to have the fear of God in all our dealings.
Football is an industry with capacity to employ dozens of millions of Africa’s population, with several ancillary opportunities apart from those directly involved in playing the game, coaching, refereeing, administering, providing medical support, marketing, rights-buying, player-management, osteopath and psychology services, statistics-gathering and analysis, and journalism.
It is also an industry capable (and already doing so in the advanced climes) of contributing significantly to a country’s Gross Domestic Product. We will seek to set Africa on the way to making football the enormous industry that it is in several other places, and build a veritable future for our teeming youths who love the game to bits.
I believe that with my experience, my knowledge and my passion, I can make a huge difference in the governance of football in Africa in my position as FIFA Council Member, ipso facto CAF Executive Committee Member. The voice of Africa will be heard loud and clear; and the interests of Africa will be served to the fullest.
What is more; I will be working under the leadership of one of the biggest international bodies in the world where every knowledge and experience can and will be brought to bear, especially in the areas of governance, quality service delivery, transparency, accountability, resource management and development. Such knowledge, unquantifiable, might just come to be useful over time, in the direct running of the game in the future.
I therefore humbly declare and seek the support and blessing of all, to be elected as FIFA Council Member in 2021.