Former Nigeria international Chikelue Iloenyeosi has advanced reasons why the country should rather celebrate its football federation boss, Amaju Melvin Pinnick instead of vilifying him.
Pinnick has had a torrid 65 months in charge of Nigeria’s football ruling body, with allegations and suspicions of all kinds ventilated against his leadership in the media and public space, with some of the issues ending up in court. But Iloenyosi believes the go –getting administrator has been the victim of high grade envy, intense political schemes and vendetta.
“I speak from a good place because I have been Mr. Pinnick’s special assistant for nearly five years,” began the former defender. “Before I came close to the NFF, I was like the other armchair critics who saw nothing good in the federation and thought all they were doing here was sharing money. The Bible says you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. I have since learnt the truth and I am grateful for that and at peace with my God.
“For all the noise that people make about so much money in the NFF, it will interest you to know that no year since I started working with Mr. Pinnick has the NFF received up to N1 billion as allocation from the Government. The money that comes from FIFA is about $1.2million, of which $700,000 is for infrastructure, with the rest broken into subheads like women football, youth development and Leagues. It is very easy to find all this information from the internet.
“When you place this side-by-side with the responsibilities of catering for 11 National Teams, most of which are always competitively engaged, you begin to wonder where all the outlandish figures that some persons are bandying round town as having been embezzled came from.”
The former player said Pinnick and his team deserve kudos for their resourcefulness in getting some State Governments to take the burden of sponsorship of some matches of the National Teams, as the Federal Government does not give monies for every match but intervenes only for critical tournaments like the Africa Cup of Nations and the FIFA World Cup.
He also praised Pinnick for prudence and self-denial with regards to running of the affairs of the federation.
“For the 65 months that he has been NFF President, Mr. Pinnick has not gotten any money for accommodation in Abuja, despite travelling to the city several times every month for official functions. His predecessor collected a tidy sum for this.
I appeal to some ex-internationals and other aggrieved persons without information to come close and find out the truth. It is not enough to just be shouting from afar and be accusing people wrongly.”
“What many should know is that Pinnick has been highly favoured as a very successful businessman before assuming office as NFF President. He has never been a poor man. He may be independent-minded and seen as aloof by some people, but he is a good man at heart and his only ambition is to take Nigerian football to levels and heights never attained previously.”
Iloenyosi also reviewed recent events at the Africa’s football –governing body, CAF and says Pinnick has been vindicated for his private letter of early last year advising President Ahmad to retrace his steps:
“First and foremost, his desire to see Nigeria taking the front seat and having a voice where it mattered led him to support the Team Change that took over the leadership of CAF two years ago, at great risk to his own standing back home in Nigeria.
“Yet, they conspired against him because he told Ahmad the truth about how he was running the organization like a tyrant, sidelining committees and treating due process with contempt.
“They removed him as CAF 1stVice President just because he wanted things done the right way, and we can all see what is happening in CAF now. PwC, the same company that gave the NFF thumbs-up after auditing their 2018 account, has gravely indicted CAF for financial recklessness.”
“A recent audit report of CAF done by PriceWaterHouseCoopers found 35 of 40 large payments, amounting to the sum of $8.3million to be “unusual” while 48 of 66 high-risk payments reviewed (worth some $11million) had “insufficient documentation”.
“In February 2019, Pinnick had, through a private letter, drawn Ahmad Ahmad’s letter to certain malfeasance in the continental body: “Through certain actions, Mr. President, we are daily eroding confidence in our esteemed colleagues and knowingly or unknowingly, consciously or unconsciously, the Statutes (our operational weapon) are being violated…this institution, we promised to protect, is greater than any of us and we want it to continue once we are gone.
“We came to leave a legacy and change African football; we can only achieve that if we respect the rules, and act in consonance with football ethics and the Statutes.”