January, 28 2022.
By Wale Ajayi.
He sits amongst the lords of world football, he is one of the world's most feared and most respected football administrators, he has a name that sends jitters down the spines of opposition and has built a reputation too golden to ignore.
He is the first Nigerian dead or alive to emerge NFF president for a record second term, the first Nigerian to rise to the enviable and exalted position of CAF vice president, the first Nigerian to occupy four key positions in CAF, the first Nigerian to be match commissioner in the Semi final of a FIFA World Cup, the first Nigerian to host FIFA president three times in seven years and the first Nigerian that has single handedly positioned more than ten Nigerians in key positions in CAF and FIFA.
And to cap it all, in 2017, former CAF president Ahmad Ahmad invited five of his trusted and most influential members into a room to decide on key policies and positions in Africa's football governing body. Of those five, only Amaju Pinnick is still standing today. This is a clear indication that the Nigerian is not only favored by God, he is a child of destiny. He who God has blessed, no man can curse.
Today, he sits on the exalted sit of FIFA Council member and must be consulted before key decisions are taken as it affects World and African football.
On the home front, he is daily moving closer to making Nigeria football self sustaining with the involvement of the private sector. As at the last count, Nigeria football has regained it's place of pride as a giant on the continent. Corporate bodies and individuals are falling over themselves to identify with Nigeria football all because, in Amaju Pinnick, they have found a trusted friend too influential and too connected to ignore.
In just under seven years, the NFF has attracted an obscene amount totalling billions of naira and that has significantly reduced the pressure and burden on government as the NFF now prosecute international assignments like the Nations Cup and World Cup qualifiers without putting pressure on the federal government.
Unfortunately, the Super Eagles failed to make it beyond the second round of the Nations Cup despite huge investments from the federal government, sponsors and the NFF, Amaju Pinnick and his board still went ahead to offset all pre tournaments promises as well as clearing all financial backlogs incurred during the period of the AFCON championship.
Today, everyone that has come close or worked closely with the NFF are beginning to trust the board because despite the negative perceptions out there, Amaju and his team have shown that they are responsible administrators that can be trusted in cash and kind.
No wonder, these sponsors are unanimously appealing to their friend of many years, a friend they have tested and trusted, a friend that was thoroughly investigated by the FIFA Ethics committee in the buildup to the FIFA Council election and came out clean despite a 155-paged petition submitted by some disgruntled elements.
These sponsors are happy to extend the terms of their existing contracts with the NFF. Those on three years contracts are willing to make it five, while those on five, are desperate to extend it to ten. They are happy with the progress they have seen in Nigeria football in recent years and will be glad to sustain existing relationships for the foreseeable future.
However, this promises are not without a caveat. The sponsors are saying that the only condition for them to stay put and continue to invest in Nigeria football, is if the present NFF president Amaju Pinnick is retained as NFF president for a third term.
The Delta state born football administrator is not a desperado, he is not one man who wants to make a name or launch himself as a football Super power, all that he has achieved with his outstanding performance as NFF president and FIFA Council member.
On a personal note, Amaju is not a poor man. Although he lives a modest lifestyle with a very beautiful wife and four wonderful children, his investments and personal businesses are there for anyone to investigate.
This explains the clarion call by sponsors, friends and well wishers that the former chairman of Delta state sports commission must consider contesting for the NFF president for a record third term.
Aware of the opposition and the evil around him, Amaju is yet to take a stance and will only do so after serious consultations with his family, his friends, the sponsors and members of his executive committee majority of whom are championing this cause on his behalf.
Let it be said here that the federal government is happy with the strides Amaju is taking to reposition football and that much was confirmed by President Mohammadu Buhari in that pre match chat he had with players and officials of the Super Eagles before the game with Tunisia.
The recent Aisha Buhari Cup also got the blessings and endorsement of the federal government just as the minister of youth and sports has taken keen interest in the achievements of the Amaju Pinnick led board.
All hands are now on deck in ensuring that the Super Eagles qualify for the 2022 World Cup. The NFF and the sports Ministry have made that a priority and will do anything possible to make this dream a reality.
In the next few days, they will come out with a road map for success. Any topic that has nothing to do with the qualifiers for now, is considered a distraction and Amaju is totally not interested in it. He is focused on qualifying Nigeria for yet another World Cup. He has done that before and will do it again.
All that matters for now, is building a robust relationship, that is, true commandorie between the players on the one hand and on the other hand between the players and the federation. No matter how bad situations are in camp you hardly see it in the media. The case of Cameroun 2022 is a story for another day but the NFF is determined to get results on the field of play rather than on the pages of newspapers.