September 21 – Nigeria’s Amaju Pinnick, recently elected vice-president of the African Football Confederation, achieved a widely expected landslide victory in the race for the presidency of his national federation, securing a second term after crushing his opponents.
Pinnick gained 34 votes, with Aminu Maigari, the immediate past President of the Nigerian Football Federation, winning eight, former Nigerian defender Taiwo Ogunjobi two and Chinedu Okoye, proprietor of amateur league club, Bimo FC, none.
Shortly after being declared the winner, Pinnick gave an insight into his plans, vowing to reform football in the country.
“First of the things that we want to do is to initiate reforms for our statutes,” he said. “There are some things that we need to put in our statutes that will reflect reconciliation.”
Rather like a boxer who praises his vanquished opponent after a fight having previously staged a war or words, Pinnick had nothing but good words for his rivals describing them all as brothers.
“This is a turning point. Like I said, there is no victor there is no vanquished. Everybody is a winner but people should now know that we need to develop football beyond the narrow confines of ethnicity, primitivism, nonchalance, lackadaisical attitude and mediocrity,” he said.
Last month Nigeria narrowly avoided being thrown out of international football after agreeing to recognise Pinnick as the FIFA-approved head of its federation pending this week’s election.
Minutes before a ban was due to take effect following a protracted legal battle, Nigerian authorities backed down and agreed that Pinnick, who was first elected in 2014, should remain in charge.
Pinnick had been locked in a bitter leadership dispute with Chris Giwa, who headed a rival faction having won a court ruling in June after protesting the result of elections that brought Pinnick to power.
FIFA representatives Luca Piazza and Solomon Mudege were among those who witnessed the election which keeps Pinnick in power until 2022 as the first person ever to be re-elected president.
Whilst there is no evidence to suggest the election was anything other than clean, the fact that Piazza was one of the FIFA observers dispatched to monitor proceedings is interesting in the sense that both he and Pinnick are close allies of FIFA president Gianni Infantino.
Piazza works in the president’s office at FIFA and comes from the same village as Infantino who brought him into the organisation while Pinnick is highly thought-of by Infantino who said last month during all the internal in-fighting: “The Nigerian football federation has president and his name is Pinnick.”
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