Former Nigerian international, Segun Odegbami, on Wednesday petitioned the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) over its demands before it can nominate the country’s contestants for the position of President of FIFA.
It will be recalled that Odegbami and former Abia State Governor, Orji Uzor Kalu, are the two Nigerians, who have indicated interest in contesting for the FIFA presidency.
The NFF on Monday stated that a prospective candidate must obtain endorsements from their state Football Associations, the National Sports Commission and the Confederation of African Football.
The former Green Eagles captain has however advised the NFF to withdraw these demands and that the federation should quickly decide on the Nigerian to nominate to contest the FIFA Presidential elections in February 2016.
Odegbami said he was “perturbed and shocked” to see the NFF president, reveal on a television programme – Sports This Morning – on Channels Television, on Monday September 14, 2015, that the NFF Executive committee had met and decided that Nigerians interested in contesting for the position of FIFA president should secure the endorsements from their state football association, the National Sports Commission (NSC) and the Confederation of African Football (CAF)
He stated: “I find the last two of these requests very bizarre, and a product of lack of familiarity with the guidelines for the FIFA presidential elections. In my view, it reeks of and it is a reflection of insensitivity to the prevailing situation around global football that currently faces integrity issues. It further appears to be a calculated attempt to pursue an entirely private agenda at the expense of national benefits cum interests,”
Odegbami assured the NFF that he has studied the “eligibility rules and criteria for contesting for the position, as clearly stated in the well-publicised electoral guidelines and FIFA statutes, before presenting myself as a candidate. Only individuals contest for the FIFA presidency, not national federations or representatives of confederations, even though the individual federations are the electorate that would elect the president.
In the petition addressed to the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, Odegbami said: “I refer to my letter of August 26, 2015, addressed to you, in which I humbly requested for nomination by the NFF to enable me contest for the vacant position of President of FIFA in the elections coming up on February 26, 2016.
“Whilst awaiting a formal response from you, it was with utter disbelief and shock to read of the conditions (more of barriers) on a television programme that the NFF has set for Nigerian candidates.
“I wish to remind you that long before I publicly announced my intention to contest for the election, I met with you to intimate you of my aspiration and intent. You had proposed then that I met with Dr. Amos Adamu [former member of the Confederation of African Football [CAF] Executive Committee] and Mr. Issa Hayatou – the CAF President.
“At this meeting, I reminded you that the FIFA elections became necessary as a result of corruption charges against members of the current FIFA Executive Committee, and that both gentlemen that you suggested I meet have been an integral part of the FIFA establishment, and that engaging them at the initial stages may not be a good idea, particularly as I aim to align part of my campaign strategy and key messages alongside the change mantra and anti-corruption stance of the present Nigerian Government under President Muhammadu Buhari. In my view, to achieve this, I stand a good chance if I distance myself from the present FIFA members.
“I also told you that my good chance of winning the elections would be to present my works and records in football and football administration, as well as my good conduct and character throughout the decades of my involvement and engagement with the sport at various levels – local, national and international – and not by hobnobbing with the establishment.
“As part of your response to me, you mentioned the interest of another Nigerian – Orji Uzor Kalu – even though you also said, at this meeting, that he had not officially notified the NFF of his intention. You also promised to seek the opinion of a few of your friends, fellow national Federation presidents in Africa, as well as your Executive Committee members, and revert back to me quickly, noting that time is of essence in this quest.
“I informed you also that I had already sent my official notification letter to the NFF and that I would be expecting a response.”
Odegbami revealed that after extensive consultations with some stakeholders that could assist and support his aspiration on September 2, he made his intentions publicly known to the world.
He added that he expected that the NFF would conduct its own integrity and eligibility tests and decide which of the two candidates to be offered the only nomination spot.