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Northern football stakeholders desperately need a leader and all fingers are pointing at Aminu Kurfi

February, 19 2022.

By Wale Ajayi.

A new name has emerged as the most influential and most powerful football administrator in Northern Nigeria. He is no other than Katsina state FA Chairman, mallam Aminu Kurfi, popularly known as Balele.

The former chairman of Katsina United football club, stands out amongst his peers as the most feared, most respected and most influential Northern football administrator alive.

In the past, the likes of Alhaji Ibrahim Galadima, who was Nigeria football federation president from 2002 to 2006 and Alhaji Aminu Maigari who took charge of the federation between 2010 to 2014 have dominated headlines as two of the most influential Northern personalities in football.

During this period, Alhaji Samaila Sambawa, Alhaji Bala Bawa Ka'oje, Alhaji Damisi Sango, Abdulmumini Aminu ( all former sports ministers), Alhaji Sani Ahmed Toro and many others, made history as a result of their landmark achievements in Nigeria and world sports.

Unfortunately, in the last ten years, the North have suddenly gone quiet, the bulldogs gave lost their teeth and what we have left, are lightweights, struggling for fame, position and popularity.

The unity amongst Northern stakeholders no longer exist as brothers have now gone to war in their desperate bid to outshine and outwit each other for fame and cash. .

Between 2014 and 2017, Alhaji Ahmed Yusuf Fresh held sway as the most powerful, most influential and most talked about sport administrator from the North. As Chairman of the referees appointment committee, the name Ahmed Fresh rang a bell across Northern Nigeria. He raised new leaders and created institutions for many to thrive.

Along the line, his fame and popularity got many angry as opposition began to rise.

On September 30, 2018 in Katsina, Fresh had to go on his knees as he survived one of the biggest Palace coup in football history. A few months later, he was removed as Chairman referees appointment committee and was replaced by a friend who has since turned enemy.

That singular decision ended the Ahmed Fresh dynasty and since then, the north is finding it really hard to install a new leader that will be respected and accepted by all.

As it stands, there is a thin line of division among Northern stakeholders, the bond that once held them together is now broken, things have suddenly fallen apart and the center can no longer hold.

In their desperate search for a leader, Northern FA Chairmen have suddenly pitched tents with Zamfara state FA Chairman, Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau, who as at 2010 was SA to former NFF president, Alhaji Aminu Maigari.

The division among Northern football elites did not start today. It started a long time ago. Before now, it's been backstabbing and witchunting but those have now developed into full scale betrayal which has led to total disunity caused by lack of trust among friends.

In 2014, former Kaduna state FA Chairman Shehu Adamu was at the forefront of the betrayal as he joined former sports minister Tamuno Danagogo to orchestrate the removal of Alhaji Aminu Maigari as NFF president.

Like Adamu, another northerner, Ahmed Kawu was among the eight board members that signed the impeachment of Maigari.

For the sake of sanity, this writer will not want to go too deep into the many cases of betrayals among Northern elites in football. However there will surely come a day when this topic will be revisited.

In the midst of the darkness, there seem to be some light at the end of the tunnel for the North. The discussion among majority, centers on whether they can trust Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau, to champion their cause and negotiate their future in the scheme of things. As much as the North understands the difficult task ahead, they have become even more handicapped by the fact that three of their most trusted and most influential sons, Mallam Shehu Dikko, Alhaji Mohammed Sanusi and Alhaji Aminu Kurfi are sworn loyalists to incumbent NFF president, Amaju Melvin Pinnick in the buildup to the 2022 NFF election.

Just when they thought they can pitch tenth with Gusau, he has also been caught in the web and has surrendered his loyalty to Amaju in Cameroon during the last Africa Cup of Nations.

Now, the North is left with no other choice but to pick from the pack and all fingers seem to be pointing the way of Aminu Kurfi Balele, a man who has single handedly sponsored Northern FA Chairman to two recent NFF congresses and has been at the forefront of championing their cause when all hopes seem lost.

Balele has no intention to contest for the position of NFF president and for now, all that matters to Dan Arewa as Balele is popularly called is restoring the pride of the North in football and fostering unity and peace among Northern football stakeholders

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