Shehu Dikko leads in race to succeed Maigari
At last, the D-day is here to elect the next sets of men (and women) to run Nigeria’s football for the next four years. The road to this elective congress of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has not been an easy one.
Those familiar with the history of the NFF will realize that the crisis that set off in the dying days of the Aminu Maigari administration at the Glass House in Abuja, will attest to the fact that it is nothing unusual in the rowdy manner we administer the game in the country.
Even today, there are whispers of an injunction from another Jos court threatening to truncate today’s elections in Warri from holding despite the final warning from FIFA that stopping this September 30, 2014 congress is a direct invitation to an outright ban of Nigeria from all football related activities world-wide.
However, the feelings of stakeholders who are determined to move away from stagnating the administration of the game is for the elective congress to hold with no hindrance from any quarter.
Such is the intensity of the pace of who succeeds Maigari that both Amaju Melvin Pinnick and Shehu Dikko have secured the backings of serving governors of Delta and Kaduna states to help actualize their ambitions. Pinnick is affiliated to Governor Emmanuel Uduaghan through his elder sister who is married to the governor while both Dikko and Governor Mukhtar Ramalan Yero were former classmates in Kaduna.
However, some stakeholders confided in THISDAY last night after the debate for contestants here in Warri, Pinnick appears to be ahead on the list of those wanting to step into Maigari’s shoes at the Glass House, thought it is a well-known fact that others variables count in deciding who heads Nigeria’s football.
Pinnick has not left any stone unturned in his desire to bring fresh ideas to the NFF. He told THISDAY yesterday that Nigeria’s football needs a refreshing change from the business as usual for the nation to join others who have made the game big business.
“In places where football has developed, those saddled with the administration of the game are people who do not rely on going to government every now and then to solicit for funds. We need to grow the game to a point that there will be less dependence on government,” reasoned Pinnick who built Delta football house named after late NFF scribe, Patrick Okpomo, with almost 100 per cent funding from the private sector.
Sport Minister, Tammy Danagogo, is also said to be in the lobby group to make Pinnick succeed the former Bauchi teacher.
Closely on Pinnick’s heels is the Chief Executive Officer of the League Management Company (LMC), Dikko, who is believed to be also enjoying the support of Gov Yero.
Dikko was summoned to the Presidency penultimate Monday to clarify allegations that he is a member of an opposition political party.
It is also alleged that Dikko is a business partner of the former Minister for FCT, Malam Nasir el-Rufai, who is an audacious critic of the President Goodluck Jonathan administration.
The invitation to Dikko was reportedly at the instance of the Muhammad Abubakar, deputy chief-of-staff to Vice President Namadi Sambo.
Government has been weighing on a candidate to back for the post of NFF President after the election of its preferred candidate, Chris Giwa, was truncated by FIFA which determined that the earlier election was not valid as it was not on the agenda of the congress on August 26.
It is said that Danagogo, who backed Giwa in the botched exercise that almost earned Nigeria a FIFA ban, is not particularly disposed to the emergence of Dikko, who is viewed to be a member of the Maigari faction.
Sources are claiming that Dikko's emergence will be a slap on Danagogo's face and by extension, a victory for Maigari, who survived several plots designed to impeach him from office in violation of NFF statutes after the World Cup in Brazil.
Like Pinnick, Dikko has his background in the private sector. He brought the MTN sponsorship to the NFF, even though some stakeholders are still holding grudges against him for the chunk sum he collected as commission on the deal.
Those who expect the battle to be a two-race may be surprised by the clout also commanded by former NFF scribe, Taiwo Ogunjobi, and immediate past NFF 1st Vice president, Mike Umeh, and former Kano Pillars Chairman, Abba Yola who are also in the race.
Dominic Iorfa and Amanze Ucheagbulam complete the list of gladiators bidding for the plum office of the NFF president.
Only four candidates were listed for the 1st Vice-president position of the NFF. The only addition to the race is Suleyman Muazu of Sokoto State.
Those previously cleared but still in the race include; Inyama Emeka (Abia State), Adamu Shehu (Kaduna State) and Seyi Akinwunmi (Lagos State).
Musa Gusau Ibrahim (Zamfara) is the only candidate for the Chairman of Chairmen position.
For the ordinary membership of the board representing the six geopolitical zones of the country, there appears to be no consensus among the candidates from the regions as most of the candidates have entered the fray to test their popularity among the 44 membership of the NFF General Assembly.
From the North Central, four candidates are battling for the sole ticket for the zone. They include; Agara Silas (Nasarawa State), Suleiman Yahaya Kwande (Plateau State), Ahmed Yusuf (Fresh) (Niger State) and Bewarang Bitrus Yigol (Plateau State).
For the North East ticket, it is going to be battle royal between the five candidates that includes; Yahuza Adamu Haruna (Bauchi State), Abiso Alhaji Bashir (Bornu State), Modibbo Hussaini A. (Taraba State), Kachalla Baba Gana Kalli (Borno State) and Zira Emmanuel Stephen (Adamawa State).
The North West zone ticket is a three-horse race between Sharu Rabiu Inuwa (Kano State), Balele Aminu (Katsina State) and Babangida M. Tukur (Kano State).
The South East fight to get to the board pitches incumbent, Agwu Felix Anyasi (Abia State) with three others like; Obikwelu Jude Benjamin Chukwudi (Anambra State), Okenna Chidi Ofo (Enugu State) and Igbokwe Leonard Ikechukwu (Anambra State).
Chairman of the Technical Committee of the Aminu Maigari board, Chris Green have three others to battle in his bid to return to the Glass House in Abuja where he wielded so much influence. Those bidding to upstage the Rivers man include Tenebe Jarrett Celestine (Edo State) and Oswald Atuake (Cross River State). The only addition to the race is Chairman of Edo FA, Abel Ehigie.
Like Green, Ayodeji Tinubu (Lagos) has three other candidates from the South West zone to battle in his bid for another term at the NFF board. Those also gunning for the ticket include; Adepoju Emmanuel Olaleye (Oyo State), Sunday Dele Ajayi (Ondo State), and Majekodunmi G.A. Adesina.
The committee also listed Giwa from the North Central Zone (Plateau State) and Segun Odegbami South West Zone (Ogun) as two previously cleared presidential candidates who have failed to show interest in participating in Tuesday’s elections.
Others who were also cleared but have failed to show interest include; Yahaya Adama - North Central (Kogi State), Farouk Yarma Adamu - North East Zone (Gombe State), Shema Mohammed Sani - North East Zone (Yobe State), Suleyman Muazu North West Zone (Sokoto State), Obinna J. Ogba - South East Zone (Ebonyi State), Johnson Etim Effiong - South-South Zone (Akwa Ibom State) and Obuah Felix Amaechi – South-South Zone (Rivers State).