The Only Way Is Down For Pinnick
In what seems to be an identical scenario with Kenyan and Zimbabwean football woes, Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) is preparing to ride the roughshod of government intervention, in a bid to buy themselves extra time in office by postponing the elective assembly slated for September 20th.
The problems with the current office begun when their social-contract with the wider public expired, after the Super Eagles failed to qualify for the FIFA World Cup, one that current Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President and FIFA Council Member once proclaimed as their “birth right” earlier in their qualifier campaign.
The ensuing circumstances compelled Amaju Pinnick to announce that he wasn’t in the running for a third term as FA President, citing pressure and strain on his family and personal life, a statement received with cautious optimism by his opponents.
Sensing trouble with Pinnick’s waning public support, FIFA President Gianni Infantino intervened with an attempt placate the restless masses on behalf of his key ally, by announcing his appointment to a non-existent CAF Working Group three weeks after the Super Eagles’ disastrous qualifier campaign.
That phantom appointment didn’t sway collective sentiment of the restless football fraternity, with protests breaking out in Abuja calling for the immediate resignation, arrest and prosecution of the NFF Executive Committee on the 21st of April.
For Pinnick, Gianni Infantino has been a functional prop in his efforts to project his regional and international assignments as part of a greater cause for mankind, and he successfully aligned his personal ambitions with those of his country’s pursuit for more clout in the regional front, with a recurring statement on all his speeches that “Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country”.
But a few months after that turn of events, it’s become evident that Amaju Pinnick has no intention of leaving office, as he’s undermined NFF statutes by creating an artificial impasse so as to buy himself extra time in office by suspending the constitution and undermining the electoral process in an identical manoeuvre of his fellow FIFA Council member Isha Johansen, who through the patronage of FIFA, managed to stay in office for a whopping five (5) years without a general assembly at the Sierra Leone Football Association.
The stalemate prompted the Head of State Muhammad Buhari to issue instructions through Sports Minister Sunday Dare on 17th June, demanding that timelines for electoral processes be respected, inclusion of disgruntled splinter groups hitherto suspended from football activity and statutory amendments to the NFF constitution.
In response to the letter, Amaju Pinnick sponsored a scathing editorial on leading publication “The Punch” directly attacking the Head of State Muhammad Buhari and Sports Minister Sunday Dare for undue influence, dismissing them as people with a limited, uninformed and toxic agenda. Pinnick later denied allegations of sponsoring the editorial on the official NFF website.
The scenario replicates that of banned Kenya and Zimbabwe football associations, where direct confrontation between sports ministers and respective FA presidents culminated in the arrest and prosecution of football officials with wide-ranging charges related to embezzlement and fraud.
Already, reports that Nigeria’s independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) has concluded investigations into allegations of corruption against Amaju Pinnick and his deputy Shehu Dikko, according to high-level sources who spoke on condition of anonymity to “The Nation” a few days ago.
“It has been established that NFF President, his Vice President Dikko and five other top NFF officials have a case to answer after weeks of investigation by the ICPC. This followed extensive investigations by the anti-corruption agency.
The legal department of the ICPC is concluding plans to put up charges against Pinnick and the other officials for them to face trial as soon as possible” the newspaper source was quoted as saying.
The ICPC had attached Pinnick’s private residence in September 2019 as evidence related to corruption and fraud during his tenure in office.
The expected FIFA backing which FA’s flaunt to intimidate government officials may not be forthcoming with Gianni Infantino’s own tribulations in his native Switzerland following the acquittal of former UEFA President Michel Platini and FIFA President Sepp Blatter, both jointly accused of a disloyal payment which saw them banned from football back in 2015.
Reports have since emerged Swiss prosecutors (Michael Lauber, Oliver Thormann, Rinaldo Arnold) and judges were bribed by Gianni Infantino to instigate this case and pave the way for his presidency by eliminating competition, making the Swiss judiciary the most corrupt in the world.
Platini and Blatter were acquitted last week by a criminal court in Bellinzona, Switzerland after a harrowing 7 year process.
Gianni Infantino has multiple cases on his desk, even though his arrest and prosecution has been ruled out as it appears without a shadow of doubt, that all judges and prosecutors in Switzerland are on his payroll, prompting Michel Platini to file a criminal case in his native France as opposed to Switzerland, where reports of collusion between Gianni Infantino and members of the (corrupt) judiciary have been rife.
This means that he may be too preoccupied to spend time issuing threats to the Nigerian Government for the much-feared “government interference” and even then, the Sports Minister looks determined to ward off such threats and endure a FIFA ban altogether.
Amaju Pinnick whose star once shined after engineering the deposition of former CAF strongman Issa Hayatou, with the financial help of shadowy Ghanaian tenderprenuer Kwabena Boateng-Aidoo and Morocco FA President & FIFA Council member Fouzi Lekjaa, both providing the much-needed finances to pay off FA Presidents into voting for little-known Malagasy Ahmad Darw, is no longer the blue-eyed boy of African football
And it appears that the only way for him is down.