Sports

NFF Presidency: Buhari keeps eye on football elec tion

…wants candidate with deep understanding of 10-year Master Plan

President Muhammadu Buhari is intensely interested in the forthcoming election of the Nigeria Football Federation, mandating the minister of sports Sunday Dare to ensure a free and fair poll but must engineer the process that will lead to the emergence of the best candidate as the new President of the NFF, Saturday Telegraph has reliably learnt. The NFF election has been scheduled to hold on September 30, 2022, in Edo State and preparation for the poll has already hit top gear. However, our correspondent reliably gathered that the President is a huge supporter of football and is deeply worried about the poor state of the game in the country.

A source told Saturday Telegraph that even though he wants to encourage a free and fair election, The President has mandated the minister and some other officials in the Presidency to ensure the conduct of the poll is executed in such a way that the general interest of Nigerian football will be protected. The source said the President wants a candidate who will completely implement the 10-year Football Master Plan which is believed to be a viable working document that will lead to the revival of the game in the country.

“The President believes so much in the workability of the Master Plan and he has been fully briefed about the fact that some elements in the football fraternity have been against the document and he has directed that such individuals should not be allowed to take over the running of the game.

He wants someone with a deep understanding of the letters of the document and will be committed to its full implementation. He prefers if such an individual is part of the process that led to the emergence of the document,” the source said. It will be recalled that Buhari, during the unveiling of the Master Plan at Aso Rock, said football is a national asset and the government would safeguard it.

“This government is interested in developing a football culture that will accommodate global best practices, and that will help the nation to lay a solid foundation for her domestic football, put in place professionally and efficiently run leagues, entrench a consistent and stable football calendar and create a value chain which will boost the sports ecosystem “We have seen attempts to disrespect and undermine the institutions supervising our sports. We have seen attempts to subjugate national interest for narrow interest or disrespect for the laws of Nigeria. Nigeria will not take lightly at any attempt to inflict injury on its football fortunes,” President Buhari had said. Meanwhile, apart from the Presidency which is interested in the outcome of the NFF elections, the ruling All Progressives Congress is also frantically working to ensure that critical parastatal of government like football is not allowed to be managed by individuals loyal to the opposition, especially the Peoples Democratic Party.

Machinery has been set in motion by the top hierarchy of the party to scheme out candidates with links to the PDP or any other opposition parties with a certain Governor now personally selling the candidacy of one of the leading contestants to the leadership of the APC.

“Despite the fact that the party leaders are quite busy now, they are interested in what happens to football and of utter concern for them is who leads the NFF and since the election will take place shortly before the official start of the campaign for 2023 general election, the focus is still on what happens in Benin City on September 30. The election is not about football stakeholders alone, it is APC vs PDP,” the source told our correspondent. However, intense intrigues and horse-trading have continued to characterize the build-up to September 30 polls. Alignment and realignment are shaping up the elections with major contestants reaching out to one another for deals.

Our correspondent learnt that one of the leading candidates for the president Ibrahim Gusau was approached by some stakeholders to take up the position of 1st vice president and support the candidacy of the incumbent occupier of the position Seyi Akinwunmi who is seeking to succeed Amaju Pinnick. Our source reliably told us that Gusau turned down the offer and he is now getting set to slug it out at the election in Benin City.

Gusau is still at the heart of the crisis rocking the football fraternity which is now threatening their desire to have the presidency returned to their region; his faceoff with the current 2nd vice president Shehu Dikko who is also interested in the top position has assumed a worrying dimension with the two men ready to ‘fight dirty’ in their bid to clinch the post. “Dikko is enjoying the support of Pinnick who is now reaching out to some Governors to support his anointed candidate. The NFF President also want to activate his contact in the Presidency with Dikko now reaching out to eminent emirs from the north for support,” another source said.

 

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