Nigeria has achieved another milestone with the recent election of the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Melvin Pinnick, as a member of the FIFA Council. At the 43rd Confederation of African Football (CAF)) General Assembly in Rabat, Morocco, he defeated the Malawian Football Association (FA) President, Walter Nyamilandu, the incumbent, by 43 to 8 votes. With the landslide victory, Pinnick made history as the third Nigerian to be elected into the FIFA Council after the late Oyo Orok Oyo (1980-1988) and Amos Adamu (2006 -2010).
We join other eminent Nigerians to congratulate Pinnick on his victory and urge him to do more to elevate the nation’s football, which is not at its best form at the moment, as well as the fortunes of African football. It is significant that his membership of the council is coming at a time when Nigeria is making modest progress and visibility globally with the recent emergence of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo- Iweala as the Director-General of the World Trade Centre (WTO) and the duo of Burna Boy and Whizkid winning Grammy awards. We also laud the Federal Government for supporting him and ensuring his victory at the polls. We have no doubt that he will distinguish himself in his new calling considering his numerous achievements in the management of the nation’s football. We are, therefore, optimistic that he will make notable contributions that will impact the development of football at the FIFA Council.
It is expected that his membership of the 37-member FIFA Council will project Nigerian and African football. Africa has seven members of the council, led by the CAF President, who doubles as the Vice President of the council by virtue of his position as head of African football. With his growing influence on continental and global football politics, Pinnick was initially touted to run for the presidency of CAF. However, the former Delta State Sports Administrator opted to throw his weight behind South Africa’s Patrice Motsepe, to become the President of the CAF, while he vied for a seat in the FIFA Council. It is important at this stage to call on his political adversaries at the local front to close ranks and make his four-year tenure at FIFA Council a success. They should put behind past animosities and give him the needed support and solidarity at this point in time.
We also agree with President Muhammadu Buhari that Pinnick has proven to be an efficient football administrator, and the world has taken notice by electing him into the highly exalted and prestigious position. We wish him success and urge him to use his position in FIFA Council to improve the fortunes of Nigerian football. Under his leadership of the nation’s football house, Nigeria won African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and qualified for the World Cup competition. The nation also won the Under-17 World Cup and the Super Falcons won the African title.
Before now, Pinnick has had a distinguished career in sports management, especially football. He was appointed the chairman of the Delta State Sports Commission in 2010 and later as the chairman of the Delta State Football Association in 2011. He was first elected as President of the NFF in September 2014 and re-elected on September 20, 2018. He was also the first Vice President of CAF between September 2018 and July 2019, and a member of the Organising Committee for FIFA competitions. His administration witnessed the successful passage of the Nigeria Football Federation Bill through the National Assembly which is awaiting the president’s assent. He has also set in motion the machinery for some programmes to develop the national league.
On May 8, 201, Pinnick was appointed President of AFCON, while on July 19, 2019, he lost his bid to be re- elected as the First Vice President of CAF, a decision he accepted in good faith. He has won many awards, including The Sun newspaper’s Sports Personality of the Year twice. He has survived a number of bids to oust him from his presidential seat of football in Nigeria. He is an astute sports administrator who deserves all the accolades.