CAF presidency: CSOs back Pinnick, set to raise campaign funds

A coalition of 87 Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) under the aegis of Civil Society Network for Good Governance on Wednesday declared support for the desire of current President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Amaju Pinnick to vie for the number one position at the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in 2021.

Already, CAF has slated March 12, 2021 for the big presidential contest in Rabat, Morocco.

According to the timeline of election released by CAF last month, Opening of the reception of candidatures has been on since September 11 and will end on November 12, 2020.

Before then, Pinnick has expressed readiness to step into the CAF presidency seat and power from the incumbent Ahmad Ahmad.

However, in world press conference in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital, the President of Civil Society Network for Good Governance Barr Adefila Qamah expressed worry over repeated trend which has excluding Nigerians from leadership positions in African multilateral organisations and in the world adding, “Even more worrying is the fact that Nigerians have been recruited to be a part of this dangerous conspiracy.

“We were all witnesses to the opposition to Dr. Akinwunmi Adeshina’s Presidency of the African Development Bank, in the quest to prevent him from securing a second term in an office he was duly qualified to occupy and which he has delivered unprecedented reforms and achievements.

“The travails of our own  Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala in her bid for the position of Director General of the World Trade Organization are also still fresh in mind as well as the attempts by some sister African countries and their agents to derail that quest. It appears that Africa is trying to tell Nigeria that, despite being big and having no history of exerting her will unduly on other countries, Nigerians cannot aspire to play at the highest levels in the decision making institutions.

“Today, a very well qualified Nigerian has an opportunity to become President of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), a position never before occupied by a Nigerian despite Nigeria being a football giant even at the world stage and being the only country that participates in all FIFA & CAF competitions for all age groups and genders.”

Speaking on the challenges the current Pinnick-led board has faced vis-a-vis its achievements since assuming office, the Civil society leader said, “The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) has in the last 20 years been bedevilled with series of crises over the leadership that culminated in a number of leadership changes, with threats by the international body to ban the country on a number of occasions. It is also an indisputable fact that the game had suffered with our teams moving into decline from the great heights achieved in the 1980s and 1990s. The current leadership of the Federation has not been spared of various crises being fomented by the very same vested interests that have sought to put personal ambition over our football development.

“The Amaju Melvin Pinnick-led board of the NFF has consistently been confronted with challenges ever since it came on stream from court cases questioning their legitimacy to series of spurious petitions alleging corruption which ordinarily ought to derail less determined or less patriotic people. The board members and management have, at different times and by different agencies at different levels, found themselves being subject of petitions and investigations, some of which went as far as involving sponsors who entered into clear contractual agreements with commitment of their resources to finance the Federation.

“These gimmicks did not only paint the NFF in bad light but also affected in no small way the quest for attracting sponsorship to cater to the Federation’s programmes, as many potential sponsors that had bought into the board’s vision developed cold feet in order to avoid being dragged to answer to investigating agencies for how they choose to expend their funds in service to Nigeria.

“It is also on record that of all these investigations, some of which even led to court cases against the leadership of NFF, has all come out with a verdict of innocence of the allegations against the NFF President and his senior management team. One classic example was the ill fated court proceeding by the now defunct Obono Obla led SPIPRPP, wherein even though the investigator had clearly stated in his report that the allegations were baseless, the SPIRP leadership chose to proceed to court, only to be told off by the court. 

“To date, the cabal that has been going around casting aspersions on the person of Amaju Pinnick, and spreading blatant falsehoods against the board and management of the NFF have never been able to present undeniable proof of their claims and yet they continue to throw stones at the very glass house they seek to occupy. Their scorch earth tactics  has done enough damage and it is time they explore the legal means of getting the leadership of that institution, so as to preserve its integrity and sustain it on the path of development that Pinnick and his team have set it on.

“The Pinnick led board has made unprecedented strides in making Nigerian football the beautiful bride it ought to have been all these years, attracting sponsorship and partnership suitors on a scale never before seen in football management in Nigeria. Nigeria can ill afford to have a group of “has-been” and “wanna-be” football leaders derail this progress and return football to the era of sole dependence on government funding, considering the fact that the government of President Muhammadu Buhari is seeking to diversify our economy and strengthen the revenue base of Nigeria.”

The CSOs while pledging their readiness to embark on fundraising drive to support Pinnick’s CAF presidency move, also vowed court action against those that have continued to “persecution of the institution and leadership of the NFF.”

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