By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
President, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, may not secure a return to the Confederation of African Football Executive Committee if the plots against him sees the light of the day, a development which may represent a complete fall from grace to grass for the football administrator.
Pinnick piloted the movement that broke the stranglehold of erstwhile CAF boss Issa Hayatou and enthroned Ahmad Ahmad as the new helmsman of African football. The Nigerian football chief secured a seat in the continental football executive committee in the process.
Pinnick’s spontaneous rise in global football went a notch higher when he was nominated by Ahmad as CAF 1st vice president following the 10-year ban placed on the then Ghana Football Association (GFA) boss, Kwesi Nyantakyi, after he was found guilty of corruption.
However, less than four years after the rise, the Delta state-born administrator may find himself completely outside of football administration on the continental level when elections into the Executive Committee take place on March 12, 2021 in Rabat, Morocco.
The Nigerian, who roundly defeated more experienced Moucharafou Anjorin of Benin Republic in 2017, is eligible to seek re-election next year but his former ally whom he helped to power in the last elections, Ahmad, is now spearheading a process that will deny Pinnick a return to the continental body, our correspondent has reliably learnt.
It is no longer news that Ahmad and Pinnick have a severed relationship which culminated to the former dumping the latter as his deputy last year. Dramatically, Ahmad’s removal of Pinnick as his first vice president after the 2019 African Cup of Nations sent shock waves across the continent and the two men have not done much to restore their relationship since then.
A source close to the NFF boss told our correspondent that: “Ahmad distrusted Pinnick for faintly coming forward as his successor when the CAF head was going through scrutiny for corruption. “Although Pinnick denied the media campaign suggesting he was warming up to take over, Ahmad never believed him and that was why he stripped him of all the privileges including the deputy slot.
“Pinnick has tried to make overtures to Ahmad but the Malagasy deeply distrusted the Nigerian and he is now doing so much to make sure that Pinnick does not even return to CAF as executive committee member.”
The March 12 General Assembly is an elective one and not only the position of the president will be vied for but other three executive seats. They are Western Africa Zone B currently occupied by Pinnick Northern African Zone held by Faozi Lekjaa and Southern African zone held by Danny Jordaan.
“Ahmad is sponsoring another candidate for Western Zone B so as to stop Pinnick from coming back. The matter has become worsened as it is believed that Pinnick is also nursing ambition to run against Ahmad for the CAF presidency,” another source informed our correspondent.
“Ahmad is fighting for his own political life and the Malagasy has become ruthless in weeding out real and imagined opponents.”
Our correspondent also learnt that the CAF boss enjoys the support of majority of FA presidents and his support base was even solidified by those who are Muslims in the Congress.
The Malagasy reportedly took most of FA presidents who are members of Congress to 2019 Hajj with accompanying esta code in a bid to further gain their confidence. Pinnick is now viewed as an opponent and the Nigerian’s influence seems to have been whittled down even with the removal of Nyantakyi and Musa Bility who were his strong allies. Although no official name has been pushed forward as the candidate to run against Pinnick, Saturday Telegraph learnt that Federation of Nigerien Football (FENEFOOT) boss Djibril Hima Hamidou has been approached being one of the most experienced football administrators on the continent and a Muslim.