Former President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Alhaji Sani Lulu Abdullahi, has advised the president of the Federation, Amaju Pinnick, to tread carefully on his position not to support long-serving president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Cameroon’s Issa Hayatou, who is contesting for the post for eighth successive term.
Lulu said that Hayatou deserves Nigeria’s support because the Cameroonian has proved over the years to be a true friend of the country, as well as a leader that has equally done so well for the continent’s football globally.
He said a matter like CAF leadership election requires consultation with the NFF Executive Committee, the Congress, and the Federal Government on “this sensitive matter that portends great implications for our image and foreign relations.”
According to Lulu, “it will be height of insensitivity and dangerous politics on the part of NFF president to just throw his support for Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar, as against Issa Hayatou, just because of his differences with the new FIFA leadership.
Lulu recalled the unquantifiable support advanced to Nigeria by Hayatou-led CAF during the country’s hosting of FIFA-under 17 World Cup in 2009, as well as the hosting of CAF Congress in the same year.
He added: “It is also a known fact that Hayatou’s intervention influenced my withdrawal of our case before CAS on our illegal impeachment as the NFF president and members of the Executive in 2010.”
The former NFF president added that Hayatou’s reign as CAF leader ensured the sustenance of peace in African football; and in comparison with FIFA‘s recent purge, the Hayatou-led CAF executive has maintained zero tolerance for corruption.
Alhaji Lulu therefore appealed to the Sports Minister, Barrister Solomon Dalung, to intervene on this matter, since the position of CAF president is a political matter in cognisance of CAF president’s position and the country’s leading role in African affairs.
He declared: “This is an issue that requires government intervention because at CAF level, the interest of government and Nigeria should be paramount over any other consideration.”
Pinnick had in an interview with BBC revealed that the NFF was backing Ahmad Ahmad of Magagascar basing his reason on the need to effect change of leadership in CAF’s hierarchy, adding Africa was due for “a new generation” of leadership.
He also cited “post-election differences between Gianni Infantino, the new Fifa president and Issah Hayatou which he said are “irreconcilable”.