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The Nigeria Football Federation’s electoral committee has announced that elections for various offices of the nation’s premier football administration body will be held on September 30, 2022, and quite a number of aspirants have thrown their hats in the ring. The eventual winner who will occupy the ‘glass house’ office of the NFF President will be saddled with the responsibility of piloting football activities on and off the pitch for the next four years, bringing an end to the eight years in office of the incumbent President, Amaju Pinnick. BABATUNDE TUGBOBO profiles the major contenders in the race
Shehu Dikko is a popular face in the nation’s football circles. He is currently the Chairman of the League Management Company, the body responsible for the management of the Nigerian Professional Football League. He has held the position since 2014. He has also been actively involved in the administration and management of football at grassroots, state, national and international levels over the last 20 years. He is believed to have garnered a wealth of experience working closely and understudying several top-level decision makers globally.
Before his foray into football administration, Dikko had a stint in the private sector from 1991 to 2004. He worked at eRP/Design Cost Associate Limited as a senior project manager from 1991 to 1997. He then moved to Inter-Projects Associate Limited as owner/Managing Partner; a position he is said to hold till date. He is also the Chief Executive Officer of Deanshanger Project Limited, a project development, finance, investment and management company.
In 2004, when he went into football administration, he started as the FIFA Goal Project Manager (Nigeria), organising several club tours between Portsmouth FC and Manchester United (both in England), alongside Kano Pillars FC (Nigeria). In 2008, he was hired as a consultant to the sports committee of the Nigerian House of Representatives, where he served till 2011. While he was consulting for the government, he assisted in drafting the National Sports Commission bill.
He was later appointed as the secretary of the Super Eagles Bonus Row and Code of Conduct Drafting Committee from 2012 to 2013.
He took his first shot at the NFF Presidency in September 2014, but later withdrew his candidacy before the election was officially held.
His contributions to the nation’s football administration include the drafting of the blueprint for the repackaging and repositioning of professional football in Nigeria under an autonomous league board in 2004. That led to the creation of the Nigerian Football League. In 2013, he led the team that negotiated the LMC Governance Structure with the club owners, co-drafting the NPFL rule book, among others.
According to Dikko, his mission at the glass house is to lead and govern the NFF with integrity; promote participation at all levels; ensure the standard and financial wellbeing of the game; foster development at all levels; and effectively represent of the game, at home and abroad.
Born in Kaduna State, Dikko attended Ahmadu Bello University, Kaduna State, where he graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Quantity Surveying. He also obtained a Postgraduate Diploma in Management, a Master of Business Administration degree from the same university.
Ibrahim Gusau is the chairman of the current executive committee of the NFF. He is also one of the major contenders jostling to get the plum job.
Gusau, who is the chairman of the Zamfara State Football Association, while announcing his intention to run for the office, promised to reinvigorate football at the grassroots. He had said, “Reinvigorating football at the grassroots will be key in my administration. I promise to prioritise football development across the country. I will also put my wealth of experience to work and ensure we regain our lost glory.”
Aside from serving as an executive member of the current board of the NFF’s executive committee, he is also the chairman of the NFF’s security committee. Recently, he was appointed as a member of the Confederation of African Football’s youth organising committee. The committee is saddled with the responsibility of organising Africa Cup of Nations (in the Under-17, Under-20 and Under-23 categories).
He previously served as a member of the CHAN organising committee.
Seyi Akinwunmi is the current First Vice President of the NFF. He is also a lawyer and a partner in the law firm, Akinwunmi and Busari, where he heads the company’s banking, finance, and insolvency practice.
He was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1985, and has over 37 years experience as a legal and insolvency practitioner, with specialisation in debtor/creditor’s rights, debt recovery, and turnaround strategies.
Akinwunmi is also a Fellow of Business Recovery, and a past president of the Business Recovery and Insolvency Practitioners Association of Nigeria. He was also the chairman of the banking, finance and insolvency committee of the Nigeria Bar Association’s section on business law. He is also a consultant to the World Bank, as well as being a member of the insolvency and creditors committee of the International Bar Association.
He was first elected as the Vice President of the Nigeria Football Federation in 2014, and was reelected for another term four years later. He is also the Chairman of the Lagos State Football Association; while in 2012, he served on the ad-hoc committee for restructuring the Nigeria National League.
While formally announcing his ambition to lead the NFF, he noted that he would give priority to grassroots development, saying, “I am coming to restore those glorious days when Nigeria used to be respected in the comity of football-playing nations in Africa and the world.
“I will give priority to grassroots development, so as to find replacements for the aging players, in a way that there will be no gap left in the process of growing the sport again.”
The legal practitioner also stated that he will use his experience as the vice president of the NFF in the last eight years to enthrone an all-inclusive administration that usher in a new era for the game.
He also said he will focus on a good marketing drive to support the various national teams and club sides both for local and international competitions.
Musa Amadu is not a paperweight when it comes to Nigerian football. Over the years, he has enjoyed the support of some major stakeholders in the football sector. His candidacy is believed to be a round peg in a round hole. He also enjoys the support of some ex-footballers such as Victor Ikpeba, Emmanuel Babayaro and Sunday Mba, as well as some state FA chairmen.
He is also being supported by the popular football critic, Shuaibu Gara-Gombe, who declared that he would be supporting him on the basis of his (Amadu) integrity and distinguished record of service.
The NFF presidential candidate, who was a former General Secretary of the NFF from 2010 to 2015, noted that he has a vision to restore Nigeria’s football glory in all sectors including governance, club administration, player development and technical affairs.
He added that the capacity of Nigerian coaches must be enhanced without recourse to foreign input for the growth of the game in the country.
He said, “People are always quick to ask me— what is wrong with Nigerian football that I want to fix”? They also ask me what makes me think I can fix those ills. I always respond that my focus is not only on what is wrong. My friends, elders and colleagues, my focus is on what can be made right.
“We want to build an image of Nigerian football that will make Nigerians walk tall anywhere in the world and be referred to as someone who comes from a country where football activities are well-run.
“We want to create opportunities for people who hitherto would not have had a chance to be anywhere near a football field– job opportunities that will take our youths off the streets and provide opportunities that will have a positive impact on every sector of our society.”
He promised that if elected, the NFF board would go to the grassroots and work closely with state football associations to unearth the best talents in the game, and give them a future.”
Amadu’s time in office as the general secretary of the NFF won him a lot of admirers, particularly as he was perceived to be one of the few personalities that worked behind the scenes for the Super Eagles to win the country’s third Africa Cup of Nations title in 2013 under the late coach, Stephen Keshi.
Also in the same year, on the global stage, the Golden Eaglets won the FIFA Under-17 World Cup. The female national team— the Super Falcons—also won their seventh Women’s Africa Cup of Nations titles. They have since won two more after that.
Amadu is a lawyer, and he also has a FIFA Master’s degree in Law, Humanities and Management.
Peterside Idah is an ex-international goalkeeper, media officer, television pundit, and pastor. Having retired from the round leather game in 2002, the former Super Eagles goalkeeper took to football analysis.
Born on November 25, 1974, in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, he started his football career with Enyimba Football Club, Aba. Other clubs he played for include the Sharks Football Club, in Port Harcourt; BCC Lions; Iwuanyanwu Nationale (now Heartland Football Club) in Owerri, Imo State, before travelling out of Nigeria to ply his trade abroad in 1998.
Buoyed by his passion to play football abroad, he went to Israel with the intention of joining a club called Maccabi Hezilia, though the deal eventually fell through. Thereafter, he joined Tembisa Classic in 1999, before moving to Moroka Swallows FC, both in South Africa.
Although he had no appearance with the Nigerian senior national team at World Cup competitions, he was part of the team that played the qualifying matches leading to the tournament in Korea/Japan 2002. He later sustained an injury that deterred him from attending the global tournament, while playing for his club (Moroka Swallows) in a league game against Ajax Cape Town.
Idah served as a media officer to the Super Eagles from 2008 to 2010. He later resigned after the World Cup in South Africa to face his pastoral duties at the Christ Ambassadors Church based in Kempton Park, Johannesburg. He owns a television station called Ambassador Television. He also has a Diploma from the Word-Faith Bible College.
Explaining his reason for vying for the NFF’s top job, the ex-international stated that the failure of the Super Eagles to beat Ghana spurred him to contest the NFF presdency in a bid to turn around Nigerian football.
During an interview on Brila FM, he said, “The time has come. This is our game. We have kept quiet for this long and have been watching all that has been happening. I told myself that I won’t go into coaching because those who call the shots can decide to fire one simply because they don’t like one. I also want to be in a position where I can sack people.”
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