Amaju Pinnick: A cat with nine lives

By Daily Sports on May 1, 2017

You will agree with me that last week’s discussion on this page made good copy as many reacted, including the supremo of the Nigeria Football Federation and Executive Committee Member of Confederation of Africa Football, Amaju Pinnick, who is again on our radar this week.

As the above headline implies and if you have been watching closely since he mounted the very hot seat of the number one sport where at least 140 million Nigerians are coaches and administrators, one would quickly nod in agreement how hot the NFF seat can be. It has been extremely rough for him to grapple with the realities and as a young administrator that is just cutting his teeth on the national platform, he was nearly consumed and overwhelmed coupled with spirited watchdog role of very few media houses who engage in objective and constructive criticisms that always kept him on his toes. You are already fully aware how his trial and error methods cost us two back to back AFCON finals and sundry.

Majority of the sports journalists were busy misinforming the public, telling him what he wanted to hear. That is the jigsaw that befell football reportage since Amaju Pinnick became NFF head. The records are there, the trend of lopsidedness and distortion of facts as they really were in NFF continued till date. Needless to remind you of the good old days of critical analysis in the 1970’s, 1980’s and early 1990’s on the sports pages of newspapers.

Let me reveal this to you that it reached a stage many of my close friends complained bitterly about my critical angles and dreaded knocks on NFF leadership. One of them, threatened to review our aged long friendship if I failed to leave Amaju Pinnick and NFF alone. Truly, I dared him. And I’m glad to tell you that we are still friends till date. I did explain to them, what the tenets of Journalism or news reporting entails but to no avail. All others are history today. However, my consolation cum happiness at this moment is that I have been vindicated. Ask Amaju, he knows.

At all times, I have taken out time to set the records straight, that in media houses, we don’t declare anybody enemy of any kind. We cherish all, rather due to the daring nature of few media platforms, some newsmakers instantly crop enmity with either the reporter or the entire media house for failing to sing their praises at all times.

Our house style has always been, to be fair to all, credit where it is due, call whoever to order where necessary and proffer solutions. We have been in that fore front and it has endeared us richly to our readers even our ardent critics have thumbed up for us in many cases by liking and commenting on our stories too.

The thrust of this week’s discussion is to unearth the survivalist instincts of the man, Amaju Pinnick. Those factors that make him thick, and a reoccurring decimal in the scheme of football fraternity in the country and continent. He caught his teeth as a sports administrator in his home state, Delta. He topped it up as the Executive Chairman of Delta State Sports Commission from where he contested an election to became NFF President. I won’t be dragged into whether he did an excellent job in his former assignment and how sports, especially football is faring today in that state.

One thing you won’t take away from him is his attitude of seeming to ignore people as if he never saw them, cares or knows about their presence, even opinions about the entity he presides over. Such has been giving many interpretations and colourations by different people and in different quarters. A number of people call him arrogant, snub, terrible etc. If such has worked for him only he can attest to that.

Come along as we vividly highlight some of his survival strategies that he uses to approach critical situations and issues he has effectively employed and without much hassle used to disarm his opponents hands down. It won’t be out of place to say he has perfected his ability to work underground rather than do the same the other way round. He is a master strategist that has often left his opponents frontally dazed after each brawl on their quest to wrestle NFF topmost position from him.  He has thoroughly positioned himself as a pedant of the first order, a smooth operator if you like.

He has loyal friends up there that listen to him and throw their weight behind and his course and rescue him. He hates blowing hot air and also distastes talking from both sides of his mouth, which have often given out people that indulge in such out to their opponents.

Amaju Pinnick also ensures he does not give up in any course he solely believes in. At different for a, he has been referred to as a dogged fighter, who knows when to strike. His survivalist assertiveness has even won many admirers to his side and further bestowed confidence on him.

He has deep pocket to play football politics and outsmart his closest rivals at will like an old fox. It has been widely acknowledged that the way and manner he went about his CAF election which earned him executive committee seat was so clinically planned and executed that FIFA President, Infantino had to anchor the entire election project on him.

He became spokesperson of the other divide. He instantly became the beautiful bride. Here his depth planning even caught most of his fellow executive committee members in NFF napping, part of which made government bow to him despite earlier resistance.  Amaju Pinnick’s magic wand subdued fumbling Solomon Dalung, government’s point’s man in the sports sector.

It was also observed that he has the aura to convince his audience on why things should be done this or that way. The way he carries himself make him the most sort after among his colleagues. He keeps his loyalists closer and ensures they are well looked after. In short, he guarantees that the oil touches each and every one of them that renders one form of useful service or the order. His ability to quickly read his opponents accurately and promptly and refocus his activities counts in his favour anytime. It is instructive also to posit that he has used that aspect to pronto deal decisively with elections, blackmail or any form of sabotage from those that have attempted several times to disgrace him out of his plum job.

He knows where to go, knock doors and they open for him. Such survivalist act has kept him moving. It has further brought confusion in the camps of his opponents hence he is being likened to the proverbial ‘Cat with Nine Lives.’ Some people call him Mr. Chameleon due largely to his miraculous come backs.

These rare qualities of his mission in NFF could safely be said to be the once upon a time Volkswagen all time winning advert on one of its long served brands, Beetles -‘There’s No Killing the Beetle’. He has also perfected the art of coming up stronger and better when it seemed as if the whole world of Nigeria football is crumbling on his head.

Amaju Pinnick also has resilient and never say die spirit. He is a believer in, ‘it’s not over until it is over’. Such attributes have contributed immensely as his main stay on this hot seat almost like that of the country’s Presidential seat. Obviously, football has turned out to be one of the most viable industries in the world, which the advent of the social and new media has supported. Fans get their information on how the game is administered, played, profit margin etc of countries and clubs on the tip of their fingers. It makes the job more complicated and there is no hiding place for gladiators in the most popular and most discussed sport in the globe.

Amaju Pinnick grandly learnt the ropes of football administration and nearing a factor to be reckoned with.  We know ourselves too well and one has to highlight some of the qualities, that will make him go far in the continent and world football politics he has ventured into.

Let me be honest with you, I know Amaju had what he was banking on when he vehemently held meeting with Super Eagles players and coaches in London where he assured them of NFF’s resolve to meet its financial obligations to them. He was so sure about it and true to type Gernot Rohr stamped it and the players followed suit to pledge their loyalty and resolution to ensure they will put in their best to qualify for AFCON and World Cup respectively. Amaju’s address in London became infectious among his target audience. Eagles for the first time spoke with one voice, which is to win the battles ahead first and then get reward later. It made the steady confidence building, oneness, focus etc in their camp to be growing optimally.  Amaju has been beating his chest since then even telling anybody that cares to listen of such beauty of a situation on ground, being able to warm himself into the hearts of the most flamboyant national team in Africa remains no mean job.

Amaju Pinnick broke that record and he is still flaunting it. Guess many are green with envy, how this man many thought was drowning with basket full of balls on his head, suddenly swan out from the middle of the ocean. After our last week’s X-ray of the downward trend of our sports, we singled him out as one of the federation Presidents that has the thickest of skin to withstand and continue his search for the Promised Land.

He read our last week’s write up and put seal to it. Then, on Thursday last week, Nigerian woke up to read that this proverbial ‘Cat with Nine Lives’ capped sponsorship deal with one of energy giants in the country, Aiteo Group.

Trust, Daily Sports celebrated that landmark achievement brokered by Amaju Pinnick. Its safe delivery no doubt, brought great relief to football that has seen tight series all the way. A sport that has seen red, it was hell for football and Amaju has often gone cap in hand begging his friends for money. He had to jump frog quickly to get the nod from the Eagles players and their technical crew that they can play their hearts out and pick the 2018 World Cup and AFCON 2019 tickets. That is proactive, and super strategist, Amaju Pinnick who wakes up before one could shout, Victor Moses!  He is a study in character, enviable man of the moment. He has been telling it in the streets of Abuja and it is also re-echoing heavily in Lagos, Aba, Uyo, Asaba, Kano, Plateau, Ibadan, Enugu, Benin, Port Harcourt etc.

Follow me as we recall the story as reported by Daily Sports:

‘Aiteo splashes N2.5bn on Nigerian soccer’

Nigeria’s foremost integrated energy solutions company, Aiteo Group, has taken up sponsorship of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF). The partnership will start on May 1, 2017 and will last for five years with an initial option of a one-year extension.

The deal is the first in-country sports sponsorship for the Energy giant which will be referred to as the ‘Official Optimum Partner of the NFF’. It also grants exclusive rights to Aiteo Group and will cover all local and foreign components of the NFF’s financial obligations for the main team.

The financial obligation to Aiteo Group for this partnership valued at ₦500 million annually and the official marketing agency is Mediterranean.

Aiteo Group’s overarching social responsibility objectives are to encourage a positive impact, through our activities, on the society-at-large and has successfully done for several years.

Football brings joy to the lives of Nigerians and each moment celebrated by families in their living rooms over a goal scored or friends catching up on highlights of a well taken free-kick by their local heroes leaves an indelible mark with memories for a life time,” Ndiana-Abasi Matthew, Aiteo Group’s Senior Manager, Corporate Communications said.

This is a long-awaited injection of funds the NFF has earnestly yearned for. We are convinced that we are turning a new chapter in Nigerian football with this agreement in place. As Aiteo Group is breaking grounds in all spheres, we share a vision of excellence to promoting the delight of football-loving Nigerians. 

Head or tail, it is a positive development. It is one landmark that would linger on despite the fact that NFF owes debts here and there. At least every moment the football house is broke would give way for healthy growths.

We continue strictly on our watch role, keeping the leadership on their toes, ensuring it embraces the best global practices that would grow the game and attract investors into the highly profitable sport and Nigeria with her abundant talents won’t be an exception. Discussion as usual would shift to WhatAPP, Twitter, Facebook. Keep shooting hard, till next week!!

Source Daily Sports

Posted May 1, 2017


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