6 men, including a Nigerian, that can stop Amaju Pinnick from FIFA Council seat

6 men, including a Nigerian, that can stop Amaju Pinnick from FIFA Council seat

By Kayode Ogundare

As the Friday, March 12 D-Day for the election into the FIFA Council counts down, Nigeria’s candidate Amaju Melvin Pinnick is one of the odds-on favourites to clinch one of the two seats zoned to Anglophone Africa given his strategic alliance with key voting blocs, including the powerful Southern African region which has promised him a bloc vote.

For supporting South African billionaire Patrice Motsepe’s candidacy for the CAF presidency, South African Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan has pledged the region’s votes for Pinnick.

Jordaan revealed that he would cast his vote for the NFF boss and work seriously to get all 14 votes from southern African nations for Pinnick.

*Pinnick, with FIFA President Gianni Infantino

FIFA has reserved seven Council positions for Africa – two for English-speaking countries (Anglophone), two for French-speaking members, one automatic slot for the CAF president, one for an Arabic-speaking country and one general slot.

For the two English-speaking slots, Pinnick is up against five opponents from which two winners will emerge. So he’s facing opposition from candidates from Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Kenya and The Gambia in the race for the FIFA Council seat.

The five, all Football Association presidents in their own countries, are ready to give Pinnick a run for his money but, in a twist of irony, the biggest opposition to Pinnick’s ambition is from a fellow Nigerian, Shuaib Gara Gombe. As much as the Nigerian government has tried to rally home support for Pinnick and veteran journalist Mumini Alao’s plea for a closing of ranks for the council seat to come to Nigeria, one person that will not be cheerleading Pinnick’s bid is Gara Gombe.

Shuaibu Gara Gombe:

*Gara Gombe

An implacable critic of the NFF president, Gara Gombe is not convinced that Pinnick is the right person to represent Nigeria in any position of trust. He makes grave allegations of corruption “Pinnick is facing a lot of corruption cases and there is no anti-corruption or law enforcement agency in Nigeria that is not investigating him, the person we want to send to FIFA. Let him be investigated and clear of the corruptions against him,” Gombe said in response to the Ministry of Sports declaration of government support for Pinnick.

He accused Pinnick of undermining Nigeria’s national interest for personal gain and urged the government not to encourage arbitrariness. “Nigeria does not mean anything to Pinnick. You are giving him support yet he arbitrarily withdrew from CAF Presidency for a South African candidate. Unless the Minister is telling us that Nigeria withdrew for South Africa in a Continental position like that. We must not reward arbitrariness and undermine our national Interest for personal interest. It is hypocrisy for anyone to endorse Pinnick.”

If Gara Gombe had a vote in Friday’s election, you can be sure that he would rather void it than allow Pinnick to benefit from it.

In no particular order, the five other candidates are:

Nick Mwendwa (Kenya):


Businessman, Techprenuer and the president of the Football Kenya Federation (FKF), Mwendwa is the CEO and founder of the Riverbank Solutions Limited, a company that specializes in payment solutions[among other solutions. He is also the owner of Kariobangi Sharks, a team in the top flight in the Kenya Premier League.

This is the second time that Mwendwa is seeking to be elected into the council after he pulled out in 2018. Should the FKF president clinch the seat, he will be the first Kenyan football administrator to get to such exalted position  in world football.

“It is a position that will catapult Kenya and East Africa onto the decision-making table in world football. There is also another chance for our youth to get job opportunities,” said Mwendwa last year.

Andrew Kamanga (Zambia):


55-year old football administrator and current president of the Football Association of Zambia (FAZ), Kamanga was chairman of Kabwe Warriors FC and replaced Zambia legend Kalusha Bwalya as FA president in March 2016.

A member of the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee, Zambian FA boss Andrew Kamanga is now aiming even higher within the world football governing body.

“I think I am happy that I am taking this path, as you are aware, I’m also serving in the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee and I am the only one from Africa,” Kamanga said.“The work that I have done in the Audit committee speaks for itself. I think my colleagues from FIFA and elsewhere can attest to that and I see that going forward I would add value because ultimately this is about football development,” he said of his candidacy.

Lamin Kaba Bajo (Gambia):


Former politician and diplomat who has been president of the  Gambia Football Federation since September 2014, Bajo has served in the highest echelons in the government of his country, first as a cabinet member from 1995 to 2000. He was then appointed Ambassador to Saudi Arabia from 2002 to 2005 and then Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. He was a government minister from 2010 to 2012 and held ambassadorships to Iran, Qatar and Morocco.

During his election, there were allegations of vote rigging to ensure he was voted as the government’s preferred candidate.


Walter Nyamilandu Manda (Malawi):


The 49-year oldincumbent is a former ex-international who played the 1998 FIFA World Cup qualification for his country and has been the FA president since 2004. He has also worked as a match commissioner, general coordinator and had previously served on FIFA’s Member Associations Committee.

Nyamilandu got worldwide renown when he won the much anticipated FIFA Council Elections in Egypt against Danny Jordan and Leodegar Tenga. In the run-off pitting him against the more popular Jordaan, the Malawian FA President won hands down by 35 votes to 18. So, withhis demonstrated guile and power of incumbency, he’s not one to be lightly regarded.

Wallace Karia (Tanzania):


Boss of Tanzania FA since 2017, Karia is battle-tested in elections. While competing for the FA top job, a complaint was lodged against him on the grounds that he is not a Tanzanian politician but the immigration department eventually cleared him. He was adjudged to have dual Tanzanian and Somali citizenship.

Karia also had a run-in with government officials after his elections in 2017 following earlier allegations of corruption with Minister for Information, Arts, Culture and Sports, Harrison Mwakyembe, warning that the government will not be involved with sports associations that are frequently embroiled in a financial scandal. It is obvious that Karia is not one to shy away from a fine tussle, fair or foul. Pinnick better be warned.


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