A picture taken on January 5, 2017 shows president of the Nigerian Football Federation Amaju Pinnick (R) standing beside incumbent president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Issa Hayatou (L) during the CAF African footballer of the year awards, in Abuja. The head of Nigerian football’s governing body is at loggerheads with his executive committee after he endorsed Madagascar’s Ahmad Ahmad to be president of the Confederation of African Football. The Nigerian Football Federation said it had called a meeting on January 28 to distance itself from Amaju Pinnick’s position and instead throw its weight behind the incumbent Issa Hayatou. / AFP PHOTO / PIUS UTOMI EKPEI
Nigeria looks likely to back Confederation of African Football president Issa Hayatou for re-election, despite the personal preferences of the head of the country’s football association.
Sports minister Solomon Dalung told a meeting of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) executive committee they would vote in “Nigerian interest” at next month’s vote.
Long-time CAF boss Hayatou is seeking another term of office but NFF president Amaju Pinnick has said his preferred candidate was Madagascar’s Ahmad Ahmad.
Dalung indicated that by “Nigerian interest”, he meant the country’s neighbour Cameroon, from where Hayatou hails, according to people at the behind-closed-doors meeting in Abuja on Tuesday.
The minister and four top Nigerian officials on CAF committees distanced themselves from Pinnick’s comments and heaped praise on Hayatou, who has been in the post since 1988.
They called him a “pillar of support” and a “true friend of Nigerian football”.
Pinnick himself is trying to get on to the CAF executive committee when it meets in Addis Ababa in the coming weeks.
He was one of 12 federation bosses to meet FIFA president Gianni Infantino in Zimbabwe’s capital, Harare.
The meeting was called by the Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA), who have pledged to support Ahmad at the polls.