‘We put Nigeria on the Map,’ Out-going NFF President Pinnick blows his own horn

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The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), has fixed September 30 for the 2022 elections, where a new President will emerge to replace incumbent Amaju Pinnick, who was has been in charge since 2014.

The CAF Vice President informed the NFF 44-man congress during the General Assembly held on Thursday, that he will not contest the September election.

Pinnick, who is winding down his second term in office, spoke to www.brila.net on the decision not to run for a third term, his legacy and other issues.

Q: Your eight years reign is coming to an end, how’s the journey?

A: It has been a great journey and I thank God for everything. We achieved a lot and I’m happy with what we did.

Q: Nigerians want to know why you apologized to the Congress on Thursday.

A: Saying sorry doesn’t kill, I don’t need anything to remain in politics, but for posterity and for the good of the game, you must always say sorry and move on with your life.
That was it and the mood changed completely, after the that speech, because it seems everyone was looking forward to that strong speech, but no and I thank God it happened the other way round.

Q: So what’s next for you when your tenure comes to an end ?

A: My friends were calling, saying they’ll buy form for me to run for another term, but I said no. I’ll go back to my family and focus on my business, while I concentrate on helping FIFA and CAF.

Q: How would you described your reign?

In my eight years, the Super Eagles never went for any game without a chartered flight, they didn’t just go with any airplane, they went with the best.

They stayed in the best hotels, we spoilt them with necessities and luxuries, because that’s what they enjoyed with their club. Yesterday one of my players was crying that I’m leaving. You see, you leave when ovation is loudest and where there is a reason to.

I’m happy with what we have been able to achieve in eight years. And I can tell you that I’ll work with the next NFF President, because he needs me and I’ll be there to work together with him for the good of Nigeria.

Q: What’s next for Amaju Pinnick FIFA or CAF Presidency ?

A: One step at a time, I’m not rushing anything. I just want to spend more time with my family.

Q: What’s your Legacy as NFF President ?

A: We developed a culture of sustainable football and brought fiscal discipline, and financial derivative, which gave rise to the number of sponsors that we have. From zero, we secured various sponsors which contributed to the 80% of our funding.
We also gave the best to the National team, you can’t hear a story of Super Eagles stranded at one airport or the other. We gave them all the motivations and luxuries to make sure they win games.
In term of trophies, we won many and I can go on and on, at the Olympics four years ago, the only medal Nigeria won was from football. We won the all African games, the U17 World Cup, when AFCON was expanded to 24 teams, we came third. We won the WAFU U17, and U20 Cup as well, and won the Women’s AFCON numerous times. But beyond that we entrenched in the players the value of playing for the Country.
In addition, we gave the country global recognition and global capital development, we have been able to bring in Nigerians into key positions at CAF and FIFA, working permanently. One the head of security and head of competition. A Nigerian is a member of ethics committee of FIFA, so we have given Nigerian that recognition.

Q: Your tenure will come to an end in six weeks, when you look back, do you have any regrets?

A: Yes I wanted to build a centre because we are spending so much renting hotels and others. We wanted to build a world class centre with four training pitches, almost six floors of hotel with 100 rooms and gym and 1000 capacity stadium. We are almost at the end of discussion with FIFA’s capacity development and our sponsors, so that we can reduce cost.

As we speak we have CHAN and U17 girls in the hotel. We are owing our hotels and traveling agencies over six hundred million naira, but I always want to guarantee the payment. So, it’s been very tough, but Nigerians don’t understand.

Q: You have seen the list of the Presidential aspirants, there are many of them, but do you think the right man to move Nigeria football forward is among them?

A: I’ve seen a couple of them from my executive committee who are competent enough to take over from me. My first and second vice Presidents are competent, and I will not leave them.
Even if the next President comes from outside the current executive committee, I’ll force myself to work with him, because we are all Nigerians.

Q: Do you think Nigerians treated you fairly?

A: I just want to say Nigerians must not chase away the next President, should Nigeria fail to qualify for the World Cup. Yes, it’s football, but It can go either way.

So we don’t have to heap pressure on him, because football will always be football.

When we didn’t qualify, we sat down and went back to the youth system, and look at the results today. We qualified for every tournament and today look at our girls, they are giving good us results at the World Cup, beating three giants of Women’s football; France, Korea and Canada.

Q: There is news of the NFF signing sponsorship deals here and there, but now you’re talking about money being owed, please tell us what we don’t know about this.

A: Alright, right now Sponsors are not paying on time because of the economic challenges. One of our sponsors is owing us about $6 million and because of the business they do, and the relationship, we have to understand. That money would have solved most of our problems.
Some sponsors have even called us to renegotiate the terms in the contract, saying they can’t meet up and we understand.
For example, our budget to the government annually is over 800 million naira, but they can also intervene, when there is need to.
Like the senior girls, they came back from Morocco without any noise, that means we have done some appreciable funding from our part, the girls in Costa Rica too, and the last Super Eagles games is from our funding.

We understand that Government have issues, but they should provide the enabling environment and we’ll run football successfully.

Q: What’s your opinion about the controversies on the change of NFF statue.

A: There is nothing like domestication of statue in football, I can tell you for free. What we have is a treaty and if Nigeria is a signatory to that treaty, then it can be domesticated and the National Assembly will have to pass it.

The rules governing football is a statue and it’s for association football.

When Nigeria decided to abrogate the decree 101 of 1992, and decided in the Federal Executive Council of March 2005, that we should allow the statue to be used, it was FEC decision which was reaffirmed in 2017 and 2018.

The only thing is when you amend, you go to the national assembly and it has been passed twice, but they are yet to send it to the President. And that’s like the final phase, but what’s elemental about domestication, is that it has been approved byl the Federal Executive Council and that’s what we are using to run our football.

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