[Nigeria]–The Ministry of Sports had on Tuesday denied reports that the Federal Government has ordered Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to vote for incumbent Confederation of African Football (CAF) President, Issa Hayatou, ahead of today’s presidential polls.
The ministry clarified that it had only advised the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick, to consider Nigeria’s regional interests at the polls.
“We told him to consider our regional interest; we cannot help our opponents to finish us’
There were reports earlier in the week that Vice President Yemi Osinbajo through the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung ordered Pinnick to vote for Hayatou to preserve the relationship between Nigeria and Cameroun.
But Special Assistant to Sports Minister on Media, Nneka Anibeze, had said that Dalung never ordered Pinnick to vote for Hayatou, adding, however, that he only reminded Pinnick of the bilateral relationship between Nigeria and Cameroun, The Guardian reports
She revealed that the choice of candidate to support at the polls rested with the NFF, which is expected to protect Nigeria’s interest. “The minister even spoke on the polls yesterday during an event on the Queens Baton and we expect that people should follow what he said instead of carrying false stories.
“He believes that Hayatou’s Cameroun has been and will continue to be more useful to Nigeria than Madagascar, but that does not translate to an order on the NFF to vote for him.”
Dalung had late last month given the NFF leadership the freedom to use their discretion in choosing whom to vote for between the two candidates, Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar and Issa Hayatou of Cameroun, but urged the federation to ensure that Nigeria’s interests were well protected by their choice.
“We have decided to back the NFF President in whatever decision he has taken towards the March 16 CAF elections. We believe that he is in a better position to know about the politics of CAF than all of us.
“We have also unanimously agreed to support his ambition to contest for an executive position in CAF which we believe will attract some benefits to us.
“So he should as a matter of fact think of what the country stands to gain from whatever decision he takes concerning this election. I also urge him to eschew personal interest if any, as the nation’s interest should come first in whatever we do.”
Pinnick had earlier in the year announced publicly his unflinching support for Ahmad Ahmad of Madagascar for the CAF Presidency, an act that had brought him under pressure and sharp criticism.
As it stands the Federal Government prefer the other candidate but Pinnick still have the final say at the CAF election which is to take place in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, today.Please Follow Us @ThePageNg