By Harry Awurumibe, Public Affairs Analyst
With just few weeks to the commencement of the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt, one would have thought that the “enemies” of the President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Amaju Melvin Pinnick will sheath their swords to allow him to plan how Nigeria will lift the coveted African Cup for the fourth time in history.
Nigeria won her last AFCON trophy in 2013 and six years later Nigerians are yawning for another African Cup. Added to the hunger to celebrate another continental trophy win, the Super Eagles have failed to qualify for the last two editions to the frustration of many Nigerians and none Nigerians too.
For this singular reason and to avoid another failure to qualify for the AFCON 2019 billed for Cameroon but now shifted to Egypt by the Confederation of Africa Football (CAF), the NFF Executive Committee and Management in their wisdom opted to hire a foreign Technical Adviser to take the Super Eagles to the next edition of the biannual Africa’s biggest football competition.
Thus the Pinnick led NFF leadership brought in the Franco- German tactician, Gernort Rohr to handle the Three-time African Champions and so far the team has been doing well both on the pitch and outside the field.
First, the Super Eagles effortlessly qualified for the last FIFA World Cup final in Russia even with one match at hand in a qualifying group that had Algeria, Zambia and Cameroon.
Again, in the AFCON qualifiers, Nigeria cruised to the top of another tough group that featured South Africa, Libya and Seychelles.
Aside the Super Eagles successes, the age-grade teams- U-17 and U- 20- Golden Eaglets and Flying Eagles have all qualified for FIFA World Cup finals in Poland and Brazil respectively.
Also, the women’s national teams especially the Falconets and Super Falcons have been doing very well both on the continent and at the World levels. Falcons even won the AWCON trophy for a record 9th time in Ghana last year.
In the last Olympic Games in Brazil it was the national U-23 squad, the Dream Team led by Coach Samson Siasia that won for Nigeria the only Olympics Medal in the global multi sports event tagged ‘Rio Olympics 2016’. No other sports or federation won a medal for Nigeria in Brazil.
Regrettably these achievements on the pitch and many ground-breaking Sponsorship and Marketing Deals Pinnick led NFF Executive Board have recorded in the past four years have not been appreciated by forces or Fifth Columnists hell-bent on hounding the young football administrator out of office.
Equally Pinnick’s various Boardroom Masterstrokes; his audacious steps taken to put Nigeria’s name in the world football map in football politics have not been appreciated.
Without fear of contradictions, Pinnick, against all odds threw himself into the CAF and FIFA politics and, pronto, be ascended into the Highest Policy- making Organs of both respected bodies within four years.
Ironically, within these period of four years, Pinnick, his Executive Board and Management Staff headed by Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, the NFF General Secretary and CEO, have been harassed, maligned and persecuted by people who are aggrieved of the outcome of the 2014 NFF Presidential Election held in Warri, Delta State which Pinnick won fair and square.
No sooner Pinnick emerged in 2014 than a splinter group led by Mr. Chris Giwa challenged the election and thus ensued the Great Battle for the Soul of “Nigeria Football”.
The battle has gone from Civil Courts to Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS); from there to FIFA and “Court of Public Opinion”. In the process, Pinnick’s first tenure of four years had since ended and another four years tenure have commenced since September 2018.
Yet those who are fighting Pinnick have continued to use illegal means to fight him inspite his good track records on the pitch and in the CAF and FIFA Boardroom politics which have given Nigeria greater say in continental and world football affairs in the last four years.
At the height of the Pinnick led NFF Executive Board Must Go Campaign by his rivals last year, FIFA had to threaten Nigeria as a nation with Worldwide Sweeping Ban before the Federal Government through the then Acting President of Federal Republic of Nigeria wrote to FIFA to confirm that Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick is the authentic President of NFF to stave off the ban.
But when it looked like all is well with the Football House, bang came the invasion of the NFF Glass House a fortnight ago by those purported to be the agents of the Federal Government Special Investigation Panel (SIP) to forcefully “capture” in a commando way the leadership of NFF even when they are in the Nigerian Law Court to challenge the SIP case against it.
If truly Nigeria as a nation and infact Nigerians want the national teams to do the country proud in international competitions especially in the FIFA World Cup finals and AFCON final then Pinnick led NFF Executive Board and Management should be left to drink water and hang the cup.
Is it not rather unpatriotic for any citizen of Nigeria, not to talk of the purported Federal Government agency or agencies to chose this period to distract the NFF leadership from fashioning out the strategies for our national teams win laurels at the global football evets.
Sadly, these distractions come whenever Nigerian teams are representing the country in foreign land like the Super Falcons playing in the West African Football Union (WAFU) in Ivory Coast and Flying Eagles camping in Germany ahead of FIFA Youth World Cup in Poland.
On June 7, Super Falcons will start FIFA Women’s World Cup final in France while Super Eagles be in Egypt in the same June for AFCON final too. In August, the Golden Eaglets will be camping abroad for FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
The above are the task ahead of Pinnick led NFF and they need peace of mind to provide all the logistics needed by these teams to win laurels for the Fatherland, Nigeria.
For this reason let all those who are persecuting Pinnick and the NFF sheath their swords, if only for the Good of the Game and for the Love of Nation, Nigeria.
Pinnick led NFF Executive Board and Management have not betrayed Nigeria. Why the hatred against the ‘Destiny Child’. Leave him to serve out his term.
I rest my case.