Following the frenzy that Super Eagles jersey created in London, selling out on the first day it was released in London on Friday by Nike, the leadership of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) led by Amaju Melvin Pinnick has been given a thumb up.
A credible football source told our correspondent yesterday that Pinnick administration has return global recognition to Nigerian football again.
“I cannot remember the last time that Nigerian football is getting this type of positive recognition in the global media. Imagine Eagles’ jersey going out of stock on the very first day it officially went on sale at Nike stores in London,” observed President of AIPS Africa, Mitchell Obi.
This development, it was learnt, has created a solid bond in the NFF as board members have rallied round their president ahead of the World Cup.
The NFF board members were particularly glad with the positive aura that has enveloped the federation since the Super Eagles became the first team in Africa to qualify for the World Cup in Russia.
“Members of the NFF board passed an overwhelming vote-of- confidence on the leadership of Amaju Pinnick. They insisted that Nigeria has never enjoyed the current of goodwill that the Super Eagles are getting from Corporate Nigeria,” observed a credible source on Saturday in Lagos.
It was also learnt that the members condemned the plot by certain elements in the social media to create a division in the board by alleging that the President was running the NFF like a private entity with only his vice presidents.
“They believe the misinformation in the social media is being perpetrated by people who are not happy with the smooth manner the NFF has been preparing for the World Cup . They had expected to hear the usual rancor and infighting amongst the board members and since there is no such, they began to imagine crisis that does not exist.
“The board members laughed off the insinuations that they were fighting over a supposed $250,000 support given to the Super Eagles by the Governor of Rivers State, His Excellency Nyesom Wike. This is the most absurd imagination from a very fertile mind. How can we fight over what does not exist? These mischief makers should better have other things to think of rather than trying to sow discord in our midst.”
It was also learnt that after the friendly with England this weekend, the leadership of the NFF will not rush off to Russia but would return to Abuja to tidy up all arrangements in connection with the World Cup before heading to the eastern European country for the Mundial.
For the first time in the history of Nigeria’s participation at the World Cup, this is the first time that the Super Eagles preparation has not been enmeshed in crisis over funding.
Players and officials have been told in black and white what they will earn. All bonuses and allowances from the qualifying stage to the friendly matches have been settled from the $2.8million raised by the NFF board without waiting cap in hand for government money.
“I believe those who have been waiting for the usual fight over money by players are disappointed that there is no such this time around. Every arrangement is going on smoothly without any quarrel,” stressed the top official last night.
Super Eagles became the first team in Africa to qualify for the World Cup in Russia last October even with the last match against Algeria yet to be played. The NFF leadership has lined up an ambitious preparation that includes friendly with top teams like DR Congo, England and Czech before heading to Russia to face Croatia, Iceland and Argentina in the Group stage of the Russia 2018.
Under Pinnick’s leadership, the Super Eagles has become a hot cake that brands are falling over each other to partner. As at the last count, Eagles have attracted no less than N6billion sponsorship from Corporate Nigeria.
Unlike in the past when team grappled with technical and financial woes, with coaches and players owed salaries and allowances, the emergence of the Pinnick led board has seen a total turnaround in its fortunes.
In April 2017, oil and gas giant, AITEO Group flagged off a N2.5billion sponsorship partnership with the NFF.
That partnership was largely responsible for Nigeria’s qualification to the World Cup as it took care of the wages of the coaches. The $600,000 and N320 million paid by AITEO ensured that coaches salaries were settled prompt and far beyond the World Cup and 2018.
A N1.4 billion partnership with Coca-Cola; another N2.2 billion five-year sponsorship deal with Nigeria Breweries Plc, and other packages with Cadbury’s TomTon; TVS and Nike have all ensured that NFF no longer belong in the realm of beggarly federations
To ensure prudence and accountability in the management of resources, leading financial institutions like PriceWaterHouse and Financial Derivatives led by expert like Bismack Rewane is saddled with managing Glass House books.