Amaju Pinnick will today officially end his eight years grip at the helm of affairs of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) as his board tenure lapses today.
The Delta State-born sports administrator was first elected as NFF President in 2014 after winning an elective congress that was held in Asaba, Delta State Capital. He would later make history when he won his second term bid in 2018, becoming the first-ever NFF president to be re-elected for a second term in office.
However, the stewardship account of the former Chairman of Delta State Football Association has raised divided opinions amongst football stakeholders.
Under his auspices, Nigeria won U-17 World Cup in 2015, clinched Women’s AFCON in 2016 and 2018, and scooped bronze medals at the 2016 Olympics and African Cup of Nations in 2019.
However, stakeholders argue that in the four years of his predecessor, Aminu Maigari, as NFF president, Nigeria won 13 trophies, including the all-important African Cup of Nations (AFCON), while Pinnick in eight years won only three trophies, including the one prepared by Maigari before he left office.
Also under his administration, Nigeria, for the first time since 1974, failed to qualify for back-to-back AFCONs.
The Women’s national team did not fare any better. There was a rapid decline in the performances of the once African giants which finally resulted in the team having their worst tournament in the history of the Women’s African Cup of Nations (WAFCON) earlier this year in Morocco.
The Falcons’ inability to attend the last two Olympic Games was among the sample of the downturn in Women’s football in Nigeria.
Pinnick has been accused of sacrificing Nigeria’s local football administration on the altar of his ambition to be a member of CAF and FIFA. Many believe that Pinnick only cared about his personal development rather than the development of Nigerian football.
Others are of the opinion that the NFF under Pinnick had made tremendous progress in the areas of securing lucrative sponsorship deals for the national teams, adding that Pinnick, as an elective member of the CAF executive committee and FIFA Council member, projected a good image for Nigeria on the international stage.
For some, if not most football enthusiasts in Nigeria, the local leagues, especially the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) were virtually abandoned and became a shell of their glorious past. Gone were the days when Nigerian clubs held their head high on the African stage and the organisation of the league became a joke under Pinnick. The country has failed to qualify for back-to-back African Nations Championships (CHAN).
Love him or hate him, Pinnick would go down in the annals of Nigeria football history as a very colourful, ambitious, and controversial figure as the president of the NFF.
Efih will be anxiously eager to make her Portuguese topflight debut for Braga when they turn out against CA Ouriense on Sunday.