NFF Presidential Race: The Contenders, The Outsiders, The Pretenders, And The Underdogs

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After months of anxious wait, the stage is now set for one of the most eagerly awaited and keenly contested FA elections in history..

On Thursday in Lagos, the 77th NFF Annual General Assembly reeled out the names of members of the electoral and appeals committees and fixed September 30, 2022 as date for the elective congress which will now take place in Benin, the Edo state Capital.

As the buildup to this day gathers momentum, NSM Media chief, Adewale Ajayi, has taken time to dig deep and now has the names of all the key contenders, the outsiders, the pretenders and the underdogs.

To arrive at this conclusion, the writer made wide consultations, called a few friends and added his usual permutations. He is no stranger jn the game and has a pedigree as one of the most traveled, most connected and most feared Nigerian sports journalists alive.

From his vantage position in far away Canada, Ajayi is sitting on a sofa just by the beach, north of the Atlantic while dishing out some of the best kept secrets in Nigeria football. He says, this year’s NFF Election will be the most most shocking and most enthralling contest in history.

According to him, there is the possibility of a shock if the north refuses to pick a consensus candidate but if they do, then it is going to be a 60-40 chance for the north to nick this one.

So far, the campaign proper has started and after carefully weighing the options, Ajayi came out with a list of three contenders.

  1. BARRISTER SEYI AKINWUMMI-

The Lagos state FA chairman and first vice president of the NFF has gone about his business in the most professional manner expected of a man who understands the game.

BSA as he is popularly called, has toured the states, armed with a game plan and has taken time to outline his intentions to the FA chairmen. He is one man who has never hidden his intentions from day one, but he has remained absolutely loyal to the incumbent president all through his eight years tenure. Seyi is not willing to rock the boat, and has appealed to his followers to stay calm in the face of obvious temptations and glaring frustrations.

He has strong ties with northern FA chairmen and has carefully mapped out his strategies. No wonder, he is now looking good to cause a major upset come September 30.

STRENGHT– Seyi Akinwummi is highly respected among the delegates. He has maintained a good relationship with the FA chairmen for more than 4years. He attends every ceremony involving a northern delegate and assists them in his own little ways when the need arises. He knows how to play his cards, he avoids controversies and stays out of trouble.

WEAKNESSES– He has unresolved misunderstandings with key stakeholders of the game, he is not a favorite of the outgoing president who has vowed to make sure he doesn’t emerge NFF president. He needs to up his game in the business aspect of administration. The general.feeling within the fraternity is that he cannot really pull his weight when it comes to getting sponsors for the various National teams and has a problem of trust. He needs to know that politics has many faces

SPONSORS
Seyi is ready. So far, the Lagos state government has indicated interest to back him up in the race. Then there is strong interest from a billionaire based in Ogun state who has promised to bankroll his involvement in the election. With these two bigwigs behind him, Seyi is good to go.

IBRAHIM GUSAU

As it stands, Gusau seem to be the name on every lips. This Zamfara state born football administrator has been the chairman of chairman in the last eight years, under the Amaju Pinnick led board. Because of his position, Gusau has maintained a very good relationship with the state FA Chaimen. At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Gusau stamped his authority as the strongest and most feared board member and was the man Amaju Pinnick was banking on to fulfill his third term ambition.

Not until Gusau told him to the face that he should forget about the third term dream, Amaju was still confident that he will return. Now the Delta state born football administrator and FIFA Council member, has decided to pitch tent with his second vice president in as he pushes to instal a trusted successor.

STRENGHT

Gusau is very unassuming, very quiet and he is a silent operator. He has held firmly to his votes and can go to bed, confident that he is guaranteed of atleast 20 votes from the north.
If news creeping out of northern Nigeria that one of the strongest politicians in the North, Aminu Kurfi has decided to pitch tent with Gusau is anything to go by, then, I will say, the game is up, as Gusau will be NFF president.

For now, he has to contend with his own brother from Niger state who is still nursing the wound from a backstab during the 2018 NFF elective congress. For this singular reason, Gusau has no guarantees but he is one man that is seriously walking tall with great hopes.

WEAKNESSES

The Northern votes are divided and that is not a good sign. Apart from the fact that the North is yet to arrive at a concensus candidate, meaning the northern votes could be shared between himself and another strong candidate, there is also the problem of trust as his brothers still feel let down from the events of Katsina 2018. As long as these issues persist, then there is a problem and he knows it and will need to act fast.

SPONSORS

Gusau has firmed up his relationship with the Edo state government in the run up to the elections. The deputy governor of Edo state is a good friend of Ibrahim Gusau and with Aminu Kurfi now rumored to be working with him, cash will not be a problem going into the election on September 30.

  1. SHEHU DIKKO

He is the chosen one. A friend of the incumbent president and one of the best brains in present day Nigeria football. If it has to be decided by brilliance, Dikko has got it, if it has to be decided by personality, Dikko has got it.

However, winning the NFF presidential election demands so much.

As LMC Chairman, Shehu Dikko has not done so well to convince his die-hard admirers. His relationship with the outgoing NFF president could also count for or against him. Many believe that Amaju is planning to install a stooge in Dikko as he hopes to continue to run Nigeria football from the wings. So Dikko must be wise enough to play down on this perceptions if he hopes to emerge NFF president.

STRENGHT

He has got the contacts, he knows the people, he walks the walks and talks the talks. He has got the clout, the personality and the drive to attract so much for Nigeria football. He has his stronghold in the North too as his relationship with Ahmed Yusuf Fresh means he can easily sweep the votes from the North Central and the leagues.

Dikko will not also have issues with sponsorship as he has got the money and the contacts to push this dream to reality.

WEAKNESSES

Some say he is too reserved, others see him as a snub but many fail to remember that he is a Fulani man and is only playing to script. His brothers in the north seem to have forgotten in a hurry the good old days as many complain that he has stayed away of late. The key point for Dikko is negotiating with Gusau for a concensus candidate as a division will not do both candidates any good.

SPONSORS

Dikko is not lacking sponsorship. He has got money to spend and has the full backing of outgoing NFF president Amaju Pinnick to count on. Then there is also corporate assurances from his business partners so Dikko is good to go.

NB
Tomorrow we will take a look at the 5 outsiders who could spring a surprise.

They are

  1. MUSA AMADU
  2. ABBA YOLA
  3. CHRISTIAN EMERUWA
  4. BEN AKWUEGBU
  5. PETERSIDE IDAH.

Credit: Adewale Ajayi

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