A man, his battle to restore Nigeria’s football glory

by Emma Jemegah

Nigerians are disappointed with the failure of the Super Eagles to qualify for the next FIFA World Cup. Going with the failure is business craft, corporate organizations who would have use the mundial to promote their goods and services will not have that opportunity.

The unity that football brings will also not be enjoyed during this period because football has been recognized as the biggest unifying game in the world.

Because of this failure, the present leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has lost sympathy from Nigerians.

As elections into the football house gather momentum, Nigerians look forward to someone who can lead the desired revolution of reviving the game.

And one man who thinks he can arrest the dwindling fortune and restore the past glory is Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi, the incumbent 1st Vice President.

He co-passenger in the largely vilified Amaju Pinnick’s administration largely rated to have underperformed, Akinwunmi explains he was only but a team player who doesn’t rock the boat.

Instead of operating on the peripheral by just delivering on the roles, he is assigned alone, Akinwunmi believes it is right to make Nigerian football benefit from the immense experience he has gained over the years by being the man calling the shot.

In his address to Congressmen during his declaration event, he practically downplayed his role in the enthronement of the electoral process but said the development further convinced him he is the right man to lead the front for the transformation of the Nigerian football badly needs.

“Although the period was fraught with a lot of minefields, the resolute steadfastness of the Congress prevailed. The events of the last few months have given me a lot of time to step out of the box, look in and further meditate even from a different perspective on what needs to be done to improve our football to aspire to global standards and also meet the years of Nigerian football stakeholders.

“In addition, I’ve taken time to further consider what in the administration of football needs to be maintained or retained or improved upon. What needs to be radically changed, what needs to be gradually amended, what innovations are required and so on.

“Importantly, this time afforded me the opportunity to ponder seriously on whether as the incumbent first Vice President of the NFF, I can be a part of the change and growth that needs to take place in our football. My ability in the past few months to straddle the difficult terrain of being an executive committee member yet fight for change convinced me even further that indeed I could provide the much-needed leadership in the quest for a brighter future for Nigerian football.

“I have in the past months in particular given the issue very deep thought and thereafter made wide consultations across the country starting from within my immediate family, my state government, my state sports family, the NFF Congress, the national football family, potential sponsors and partners as well as leaders of thoughts, advisers, mentors, friends and others. I have with all humility come to the conclusion that I can and should be a part of the transformation.

“That my membership of the current executive committee as the first Vice President rather than being a hindrance is actually a benefit and the knowledge I have gathered in that position should not be wasted and will stand me in good stead to lead the growth and change from the front as the substantive NFF President. I have therefore decided with all humility to vie for the post of the president of the Nigerian Football Federation and by the grace of God, come 30th September, I shall be sworn in as the NFF President.

“This is another opportunity to show my love for Nigeria and I have no doubt that it is a natural progression my long journey from the basement of football administration in Nigeria to its pinnacle. My football administration experience and my obvious desire to reposition our football to meet current Nigerian realities as well as attain global standards will help me lead an NFF that marries the nostalgia of yesteryear with the current administration. Akinwunmi is convinced he has chosen the right path.

•Read full interview in Sunday Sportingsun

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