Thursday, 5th October 2023

NFF election: Odegbami expresses worry over role of ethnicity

By Gowon Akpodonor
08 September 2022   |   1:39 am
Former Green Eagles captain, Chief Segun Odegbami, has advised candidates from the southern part of the country seeking to be the next president of the Nigeria Football Federation

Segun Odegbami

State FA chairmen support Ibrahim Gusau’s NFF presidential bid

Former Green Eagles captain, Chief Segun Odegbami, has advised candidates from the southern part of the country seeking to be the next president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), to have a rethink. He said that it will be difficult for a southerner to replace the outgoing NFF boss, Pinnick Amaju.

The football legend, who was part of the 1980 Green Eagles’ African Cup of Nations winning squad also told The Guardian yesterday that all the 37 chairmen of the State Football Association (FA) don’t have the legal right to cast a vote in any election organised by the NFF.

“The 37 State FA Chairmen are organising football in their states, not the clubs. It may sound technical, but the truth is that they don’t have the legal right to vote in any election organised by the NFF.”

Odegbami had said in an interview with TVC on Tuesday that ethnic sentiment will play a huge role in the September 30 NFF election scheduled to hold in Benin City, Edo State.

Odegbami has contested for the NFF top job on three occasions without success. Over 11 contestants are in the race to succeed Pinnick. They include first vice president of the NFF, Seyi Akinwunmi; Chairman of Chairmen, Ibrahim Gusau; former NFF secretary, Musa Amadu; CAF Director, Security, Christian Emeruwa; former Super Eagles goalkeeper and Media Officer, Peterside Idah; former player, Benedict Akwuegbu; former SWAN President and General Manager, Heartland FC, Fan Ndubuoke, former Director, NSC and current Chief of Staff to Sports Minister, Abba Yola, former player, Jonathan Akpoborie and former NFF board member, Amamze Uchegbulam.

However, Odegbami said it would be almost impossible for a Southerner to replace Pinnick adding that the results will be determined by ethnicity.

The Guardian recalls a declaration by the northern caucus last week, when it stated that Amaju Pinnick had used the tenure meant for the South. The body hinged the North’s stance on belief that incumbent president, Pinnick’s second tenure has made another southern president impossible and it is the turn of the north to produce the NFF president.

Southern candidates in the race are Seyi Akinwunmi (Lagos State), Christian Emeruwa (Abia State), Peterside Idah (Rivers State), Benedict Akwuegbu (Imo State), Fan Ndubuoke (Imo State), Amanze Uchegbulam (Imo State) and Jonathan Akpoborie (Delta State).

MEANWHILE, as the September 30 election date of the NFF draws nearer, one of the candidates vying to replace Amaju Pinnick, Alhaji Ibrahim Gusau, is enjoying the support of the various State FA chairmen and other congressmen because of his strong human relationship with member of the football family over the years.

The NFF election is scheduled to hold in Benin City, Edo State. Gusau, who is the chairman of Zamfara Football Association, is also the chairman of chairmen in the current NFF board.

A majority of the 37 FA chairmen are said to have thrown their weight behind Gusau because of his quality leadership. He is seen as an astute football administrator and leader, who had used his position to better the lots of his fellow congressmen in the Federation.

One of the State FA Chairmen told The Guardian yesterday that Gusau would emerge victorious in the September 30 election because of his quality leadership.

He said: “Football politics is quite different from the regular political contest involving political parties. There are other candidates vying for the office of NFF president, but the fact of the matter is that Gusau is the best among them.

I have my strategies.

“The various FA chairmen and others involved in the voting process know the candidates who have demonstrated strong human relationship and capacity to take the nation’s football to a greater height.

The State FA chairman, who is from the southwest continues: “Football politics under this present dispensation is a different atmosphere where strong bond with your electorates is very vital in making you very formidable to win and lead the Federation.

“The NFF congressmen knows the man who has stood behind them during their time of personal crisis. The congressmen know the man who has shown tremendous empathy to them in their time of pain, and that man is Gusau. Over the years, he has given listening ears to the plight of NFF congressmen and other stakeholders in their respective states.

“In this season of football politics, we will only allow a selfless football administrator to run the affairs of football in Nigeria. Those candidates, who are moving from state to state promising naira rain will be shocked with the result of the election on September 30. They feel they can use money to canvass for votes to become the next NFF president.

That won’t happen.

“Leadership is about carrying along the people who elected you into the office. A leader should give his followers a sense of belonging and make them feel relevant in the system. From all the names of candidates nursing the ambition to become the next NFF president, Ibrahim Gusau is clearly better in this regard. He is from Zamfara and I am from the southwest, but I can vow for his leadership quality,” he said.