Sports

Race to replace Pinnick tears NFF apart

Dikko, Gusau, Akinwunmi locked in battle
Ex-players move to hijack football from politicians
Northern bloc insists on zoning

The political atmosphere in football is getting feverish as gladiators are perfecting plans to succeed the incumbent president of the Nigeria Football Federation Amaju Pinnick in September. The decision of Pinnick not to seek a third term has thrown the race wide open as some of his lieutenants are bidding to outwit each other to claim the position. The battle is tearing the football family apart as first and second NFF vice presidents Seyi Akinwunmi and Shehu Dikko respectively are said to be eyeing the same position.

Dikko is believed to be the front runner and the anointed candidate of the outgoing president but sources said Akinwunmi has also been speak-ing to key stakeholders on the need to allow him to take over since he has served the board as the 1st president. The two vice presidents are not the only ones eyeing the plum job among the top members of the inner caucus of the NFF; Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau who is the current Chairman of the Chairmen is also considered a front runner while the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) FA chairman, Adam Mouktar is also believed to be nursing the ambition.

Former footballer Benedict Akwuegbu and Peterside Idah as well as football security expert Christian Emeruwa have also declared their aspiration to run for the office. However, our correspondent has learnt that the northern bloc in the football fraternity is hell-bent on producing the next NFF president after Pinnick leaves. A source told Saturday Telegraph that the agreement was struck with Pinnick when he was elected in 2014 that he would handover to a president of Northern extraction A source in the NFF told our correspondent, “I don’t think Akinwunmi has a chance because the Northerners are saying it is their turn to produce the next president.

They have supported a Southerner for eight years and can’t allow another person from the region to manage football for four years before they are allowed to rule. It is an understanding they have had a long time ago; so, Akinwunmi may have to shelve his ambition. “The north is going to have it but the problem is that they are yet to agree on who to fly their flag. Dikko is considered a natural successor to Pinnick; the current NFF boss had promised him he would support him whenever his time is up but the ambition of Gusau, another strong ally of Pinnick, is threatening the agreement.

“Gusau is very popular among the FA Chairmen and the bulk of the votes are coming from that bloc and he will be counting on their support to pip Dikko to the job if they are allowed to go to the poll.” Meanwhile, ex-footballers are plotting to break the hegemony of football politicians in the administration of the game as they are discreetly providing support for the candidacy of Akwuegbu.

“Some of the players of Akwuegbu generation are in support of his aspiration and are speaking with like minds among the electorate to join them in their bid to rescue Nigerian football. However, it is a tough call because an election in football is about huge money and they don’t have such capital to undertake the project. They are consulting and trying to see how they can enlist the support of the Minister of Sports Sunday Dare who may use the government’s influence to swing the pendulum in their favour,” another source in the federation told our correspondent.

 

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