By ORKULA SHAAGGEE, Abuja –
A former president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Alhaji Abdullahi Sani Lulu, has appealed to delegates to resist the temptation of voting along religion and regional lines, and elect the right person that has the experience and capacity to turn around the dwindling fortune of nation’s football.
Speaking to newsmen in Abuja ahead of the September 30 date for the NFF elections in Benin, Lulu said Nigeria’s football had witnessed turbulent moments recently and needed someone that is versatile in football politics and administration across the African continent and beyond to restore the glory of the round leather game in the country, and not a regional leader.
Lulu, whose tenure as the NFF President witnessed an unprecedented development of grassroots football in the country with the introduction of the U13 and U15 at the national level which brought players like Kelechi Iheanacho and others to national limelight and qualified Nigeria for all FIFA organized competitions, with Brazil being the only other country with such a record, asked the delegates to vote Chief Amanze Uchegbulam who was his 1st vice president as the next president of NFF, saying he will return Nigeria back to the top 10 of global football ranking.
He said: “Our football has witnessed ups and downs and what we need right now is someone with an in-depth knowledge of football politics and administration across the African continent to restore our glory of football.
“When I became NFF president in 2006, one of my cardinal objectives was to ensure that I develop football from the grassroots program and through our project we got the best players for all the national teams and qualified for all the FIFA organized competition, with Brazil being likely the only country with such a record. We were rated 9th among the football playing nations in the world by FIFA.
“I didn’t achieve the feat alone, I worked with people like Chief Amanze Uchegbulam who was my first vice president and Taiwo Ogunjobi. I believe Uchegbulam has the experience and capacity to surpass the record if voted as president of NFF,” Lulu said.
The former FCT Director of Sports Development, who was born in Zaria- Kaduna state where he grew up, denounced the agitation by some northern stakeholders, that the next president of NFF after Amaju Pinnick should come from the northern region since the outgoing president is from the south.
He said merit rather than sentiment should guide the delegates in deciding the next president of the NFF.
“I succeeded Ibrahim Galadima and after me it was Aminu Maigari, we were all from the north. So, I don’t believe the southerners have overstayed their welcome not to be the next NFF president. Our Country, NIGERIA has the potential to be the best Globally and therefore we should be looking for merit and the best candidate for the job.
“So, my appeal to our distinguished leaders, my friends, the State FA chairmen and other congress members is to search their hearts well and vote for the right person in the person of Chief Amanze Uchegbulam.
“I have been there and my passion is to see our football doing well again,” he concluded.