The positions of Chief Amanze Uchegbulam, Paul Bassey and Sani Toro left a sour taste to their ambitions after they, in separate interviews warned the duo to ‘’stop embarrassing Nigeria’’.
Former Abia State Governor, Dr Kalu was the first to hint of joining the fray to succeed outgoing Joseph Sepp Blatter before Odegbami, former captain of the Eagles, businessman joined the queue.
Former Vice President of the Nigeria Football Federation and member of CAF’s Judicial and Board of Appeals Committee, Amanze Uchegbulam said that he had nothing against Kalu and Odegbami’s entrance into the FIFA presidency race but frowned that it was being done the wrong way.
‘’There is nothing wrong with their ambitions but they are doing it the wrong way and embarrassing Nigeria’’, he said as a matter of fact.
‘’Nigeria has very knowledgeable people in CAF and FIFA and one expects that such people should have been consulted for a high profile position in a place they are holding positions. They did not and what we get is outsiders asking us if we knew about their ambitions. There are procedures for doing things and there are statutes to be followed. FIFA is an organised body.
It is not a political party where people jump into at any time. President of CAF, Issa Hayatou is the number two man in FIFA and he is in charge of Africa. Consultation for things like these are first done underground with the knowledge of all relevant people and organisations. It is not something you jump to the Press first and the people are getting to know about your ambitions through the Press. We(Nigerians) holding positions in CAF or FIFA have been inundated with calls and the whole thing is an embarrassment.
They know that we know and expect us to guide our people. But you can only help one who seeks help”, Uchegbulam said. The former first Vice President of the NFF also lashed out at their ambitions saying that it might be beyond Presidency of FIFA. ‘’It’s possible that they are in the race for ulterior motives. I say this because it is a bridge too far for them’’.
He was not alone.
Veteran Sports Journalist and CAF and FIFA Media Committee member, Paul Bassey was miffed when he talked about the entrance of the Nigerians into the FIFA number one position.
“It is sad indeed that our people overlook us on a subject that we can be of help to guide and to direct them appropriately. ‘’Even if they don’t like our persons, they should have asked us because of our positions and knowledge. I totally agree with Uchegbulam that they are embarrassing Nigeria. Not only that, they are also trivializing the whole thing’’, Bassey, a sports columnist of high repute noted.
Former House of Representatives member and former Secretary General of the Nigeria Football Association and former Sports Commissioner of Bauchi State, Alhaji Sani Ahmed Toro laughed off the ambitions of the Nigerians urging them not to ‘’ridicule this country’’.
‘’They want to test their popularity and it goes beyond that. The rules are simple. I bet you that they won’t even cross the hurdle in Nigeria. It is not even possible for Pinnick to endorse them not to talk of CAF’’, Toro said. “They will not because there are rules and guidelines they do not meet.”
In addition to his submissions, Toro cited Article 24 of FIFA Statutes, Articles 12 to 14 of the Electoral Regulations for the FIFA Presidency which was specific; ‘’The eligibility of candidates for the office of FIFA Presidency shall have been proposed by a member association(Nigeria Football Federation) and present declarations of support from at least five(5) member associations ie 5 other Countries. Each member association may only present a declaration of support for one person. If a member association presents support for more than one person, all its declarations shall be become invalid
When contacted, Chief Segun Odegbami whose entrance brought joy to many Nigerians in football circles wondered why Nigerians love to bring down their fellow Nigerians instead of looking positively. “Yes, I did not consult them but I have intentions of meeting up with almost all relevant persons. It is not something you can do in one day. People should not see this project as a Segun Odegbami thing. No, it is not. It is not a do or die affair but one of participating well. I am in this because I have what it takes to offer to the World and to the beautiful game of football’’, he said.
Other contenders include Michel Platini, the French president of European federation UEFA, South Korean Chung Mong-joon, a former Asian vice-president of FIFA as well as the old Brazilian World Cup star Zico and former Trinidad and Tobago international David Nakhid. The South African businessman Tokyo Sexwale is also considering a bid.