The order from the presidency mandating Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to vote for the incumbent president of Confederation of African Football (CAF) Isa Hayatou against his main rival, Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar, has once again exposed the reason why African football has remained backward in the world of sports compared to other continents.
NFF led by Amaju Pinnick has been at loggerheads with the minister of Sports in Nigeria, Solomon Dalung, over his preferred choice of the Madagascar candidate, it took the federal government to hit the nail on the head on the choice of candidate for Nigeria in the fort coming CAF election. The Choice of the incumbent candidate Isa Hayatou who has been president of CAF for over 2 decades has also vindicated FIFA’s earlier stance that over interference from government is really killing the game of football in the continent.
Dalung, earlier this month stated that “Nigeria’s vote for Hayatou is for the country’s interest”, and I ask, what interest outside primordial sentiment? The only constant thing in life is change and so far, Isa Hayatou has not really done enough to improve football in Africa after over 20 years in the saddle as CAF president.
When FIFA became ridiculed with corruption, the world governing body of FIFA came together and before they took a decision, Sepp Blatter the then FIFA president knowing the evidence against him was enormous took a jump before he was pushed out as FIFA president and today, FIFA has been sanitized and cleansed with a new president in the person of Gianni Infantino, a clearly competent, professional, bristling more evidently with ambition than personality. FIFA is gradually regaining the trust of Football Federations across the globe and new changes, policies and decision that will enhance performance in the game of football across the globe is being introduced, that is one of the advantages of choosing a sports administrator over a football politician and Africa shouldn’t be an exception.
Isa Hayatou has paid his dues, he has achieved everything achievable in African football, including hosting the first ever world cup in Africa, this is the time for him to take a bow and allow a younger person take over the leadership. We can’t continue to do same thing and expect different results. He should also consider his deteriorating health and age.
That Cameroun is our sister country and has been helping Nigeria in the fight against Boko Haram is not enough reason to choose a geriatric who has not contributed much in the development of sports in Africa but, rather, has sacrificed African football on the altar of corruption nepotism, sentiment and favouritism.
Nigeria is the centre piece of African foreign policy, a big brother country, an injury to any African country is an injury to Nigeria. This is no time for sentiment; rather, for the interest of a developed and organized football, what we need is sea of reforms that can enable African football match what we have in Europe, Asia and North/South America in terms of quality of players, hosting rights and the much needed publicity.
In CAF we need a career sports administrator not a football politician. Someone with the ability to initiate reforms and ideas that can make African football compete favourably in the money spinning world of football and in Isa Hayatou, such idea will remain a dream yet to be told.