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‘Frivolous petitions, unsubstantiated graft allegation hurt Nigerian football in 2019’

By Christian Okpara
25 December 2019   |   4:15 am
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) this year went through one of its most difficult times financially since the Amaju Pinnick-led board came into office in 2014, a member of the federation’s executive committee has revealed.

NFF President, Amaju Pinnick and three officials of the federation were recently acquitted of corruption charges by an Abuja court.

The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) this year went through one of its most difficult times financially since the Amaju Pinnick-led board came into office in 2014, a member of the federation’s executive committee has revealed.

The NFF is saddled with the responsibility of developing Nigerian football, as well as preparing and ensuring that the 11 national teams qualify and also attend international competitions every year. But the member, who pleaded anonymity, has revealed that it was difficult for the federation to meet all these events due to its inability to attract sponsors for its programmes.

Blaming the increased ‘frivolous petitions by some disgruntled elements’ to security agencies and the ‘unceasing efforts’ to tarnish the federation’s image, he said the NFF found it difficult to get sponsors for its programmes.

He added: “When Pinnick became NFF president, he promised to secure private sector partnership for most of his programmes. He actually got many prominent private sector players to buy into the NFF’s efforts to move away from the era of depending solely on the government for its finances.

“That accounted for the ease we qualified for the 2018 World Cup; and for the first time, Nigerians did not hear any complaints from the Super Eagles camp before, during and after the World Cup in Russia.

“However, things became difficult again because some Nigerians, who feel they have been dislodged from their source of illicit funds, found a new job in writing petitions to the EFCC and the ICPC over unsubstantiated corruption allegations.

“It is unfortunate that a section of the media bought these stories without verifying them. And the result was that most of the NFF partners either pulled out, or stopped funding the federation.

“One of the sponsors recently told us how one federal government agency invited them to explain their relationship with the NFF.

“They were quizzed for spending their money to fund Nigerian football. It is ridiculous. AITEO, which is one of our major sponsors, was invited by the ICPC for over five times. It is ridiculous that a private sector organization suffered for putting its money in the NFF.

“Look at all those that wrote petitions against the NFF; they are either sacked former staff of the federation or those who lost out in their quest to wrest the NFF leadership from the duly elected board members. They are the new saints of Nigerian football.

“This was not limited to the NFF as the League Management Company and other affiliates of the federation were hard hit by the antics of these frivolous petitioners.”