October, 7 2021.
By Wale Ajayi
The calculation in the South South block where a third term ambition is being mooted and the South West, is that, as long as the unending misunderstanding between the Ahmed Fresh and Ibrahim Gusau factions persists, there is never a possibility of the north presenting a strong candidate for the 2022 Nigeria football federation presidential race.
It has been four good years since Ahmed Fresh and his friend of almost two decades, Sherif Inuwa, popularly known as Alhan, began their deep enemity over issues that were considered very inconsequential.
NSM investigation at the time it all started, revealed that Ahlan at one point became jealous of Fresh's sudden rise. The former meat seller from Niger state, rose from a silent board member to the most popular state FA Chairman between 2014 and 2017. His name was on the lips of every football stakeholder as he moved from one northern state to the other, organizing grassroot competitions and putting in place formidable structures that caught the envy of his colleagues.
At some point, there were rumors that Ahmed Fresh was nursing a silent ambition of becoming the president of Nigeria football federation in the buildup to the September 30th 2018, Katsina congress but he was quick to deny any such ambition as he said he is focused on developing grassroots football in both the North East and North West regions of Nigeria.
This popularity didn't go down well with some of his friends who felt he has made so much money as Chairman of the referees appointment committe and began a secret plot to remove him.
To achieve that, they had to either remove him from the executive committee or plan a Palace coup within, to disharm him.
The first plot almost worked as Ahmed Fresh had to go down on his knees in prayers before he managed to scale the hurdle posed by the opposition in Katsina.
The self acclaimed most powerful football administrator in the north, wept as his friends conspired to ridicule him but God gave him victory after a rerun.
Not long after he was voted into the board, he lost his place as Chairman of the referees appointment committee to his friend, Sherif Inuwa who is also the chairman of Kano state football association.
That further heightened the tension as northern stakeholders were divided into two factions. One faction has Ahmed Fresh and Mohammed Alkali while the other faction has Ibrahim Gusau and Sherif Inuwa as leaders.
Both groups did all they could to build their dynasty and erect a strong wall ahead of future elections. Between 2019 and early 2021, they did their things differently.
During the 2019 State FA Elections, Fresh installed his men in Kaduna, Katsina, Plateau and Kogi state while Zamfara state FA Chairman Gusau, who coincidentally is the Chairman of Chairmen in the present NFF executive committee, took charge of Sokoto, Abuja, Borno, Makurdi and Taraba states among others.
The rivalry became very heated at some point as old friends became sworn enemies.
However, there is some good news. These factional leaders met in Lagos during the Aisha Buhari Cup only recently and have agreed to unite as they plan to form a common front ahead of the 2022 NFF election. They are yet to decide if they will be presenting a candidate for the office of NFF president but it is not looking like they want to surrender that seat without putting up a good fight.
The odds doesn't favour them as it stands as the incumbent, Amaju Melvin Pinnick seem to have done his home work and is looking good for another four years in the glasshouse.
Although, the former chairman of Delta state sports commission once said he has no such intention, his body language has started giving the north reasons to worry and they have put in place, mercenaries for a counter attack.
Two options are on the table. They plan to put forward a candidate that will give Amaju a run for his money or agree to support Amaju's third term ambition only on the assurance that the entire northerners on the board will be retained. They are also looking at getting the VP position and the LMC chairmanship seat.
Negotiation proper will begin in Cameroon during the Nations Cup where all 44 delegates are expected to converge for what promises to be a prelude to the big one.
For now, the war is over. Ahlan, Fresh, Gusau and Alkali are back as brothers and their midst is Aminu Kurfi the richest FA Chairman in Nigeria football