The 51-year-old’s tenure as NFF president ended last week, but what would he be remembered for?
September 30, 2022, Amaju Pinnick’s tenure as the president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), with Ibrahim Gusau replacing him following an election conducted in Benin.
Pinnick had been in charge of Nigeria’s football since 2014 when he replaced Aminu Maigari. The Delta state-born administrator served two terms as the Federation’s president, the first and only man to do so.
But with his tenure now over, we take a look at his legacy during his eight years in charge of Nigerian football.
When Pinnick took over in 2014, there was a lot of optimism about him because he was seen as a different person. He arrived with the impression that he was cut from a different cloth and understood what it takes to run a football organisation.
who would change Nigeria for good. However, eight years later, as his tenure ends, Pinnick has taken Nigerian football to an all-time low.
Super Eagles failed to fly under Pinnick
Starting with the Super Eagles, which is the bread and butter of the NFF, the three-time African Champions never made any meaningful impact during Pinnick’s tenure.
Before Pinnick arrived, Nigeria had won the Africa Cup of Nations with a less talented squad in 2013. However, under Pinnick, the Super Eagles missed out on the 2015 and 2107 AFCON editions. They did return in 2019 and 2021, finishing third in 2019, their best result under Pinnick.
It is important to state that the Super Eagles were the sole focus for Pinnick during his tenure, yet third was the team’s best finish at the AFCON.
The performance of the Super Eagles under Pinnick’s regime is even more annoying, considering the team had its best set of talents in recent years.
During this period, several players who grew up or were born outside Nigeria to Nigerian parents switched international allegiance to Nigeria.
Players like Alex Iwobi, Leon Balogun, William Troost-Ekong, and Ola Aina all committed to Nigeria, yet the Super Eagles still missed out on two AFCONs.
While it could be argued that Pinnick should not be blamed as he was not the coach, his decisions cost Nigeria a whole lot. His appointment of coaches, especially the timing, was not a thing to be admired.
In 2015, Pinnick’s NFF-led board appointed Sunday Oliseh as the Super Eagles coach, but it was clear from the start that it was a wrong decision, given Oliseh’s antecedents as a player.
It turned out to be true as the marriage ended after just nine months. Although Pinnick redeemed himself by bringing in Gernot Rohr, his decision to fire the German tactician just a month before AFCON 2021 was an ill-advised move that cost Nigeria success in Cameroon.
Rohr’s tenure was Pinnick’s finest hour as NFF’s president. During this time, the Super Eagles became the darling of Nigerian fans after qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.
While the team failed to qualify from the group stages, the interest remained after the tournament. It was also under Rohr Nigeria finished third at the AFCON, which was the Super Eagles’ best finish in the competition during Pinnick’s regime.
Yet, the FIFA executive member decided to sack the German two years later. The decision was one of the many failures of Pinnick’s administration, not because Rohr should not have been sacked but because of the timing.
The German tactician had signed a new two-year deal in 2020 to take Nigeria to AFCON 2021 and Qatar 2022 World Cup.
Although it was obvious that the quality had dropped, Rohr was still on course to meet the goals set for him. Yet, Pinnick went ahead to sack the German just a month before the start of AFCON.
The decision proved costly as Nigeria crashed out in the round of 16 and missed out on the World Cup, which effectively sealed Pinnick’s administration as a failure.
However, while the Super Eagles failed to meet expectations under Pinnick, the administrator deserves a little bit of credit for making the team marketable by signing deals with the likes of Nike, MTN and Coca-cola.
But revenue generated from those deals never had an impact on the development of Nigerian football. In fact, there was nothing to show for it.
Super Falcons and the age-grade teams
Pinnick boasted he wanted to make the NFF independent, but the body struggled to pay salaries and bonuses during his regime. In 2019, The Super Falcons threatened not to play their World Cup match unless their bonuses were paid.
And not forgetting the global embarrassment the board brought on the country after failing to pay the wages of the Nigeria U23 team that went to the Rio Olympics.
Like the Super Falcons, the team also threatened not to play their games unless they received their wages. Luckily, a Japanese businessman and captain, John Mikel Obi, came to the rescue of the team.
But these and many other situations, including Rohr’s wages, were among the many incidents which highlight Pinnick’s failure as president.
His administration and the League Management Committee’s (LMC) organisation of the Nigeria Professional Football League(NPFL) was also a total disaster.
The NFF and LMC ran two abridged NPFL seasons for two consecutive years. They offered no training or developmental courses for the coaches, which resulted in a poor quality of football across the leagues.
It is no wonder Nigerian clubs failed woefully on the continent during Pinnick’s reign as president. The home-based Eagles did not fare better, either, with a third-place finish at CHAN 2018, the highlight of Pinnick’s time.
To make matters worse, Pinnick’s NFF administration kept giving Salisu Yusuf the coaching job despite his FIFA ban for receiving bribes.
The obsession with Salisu was one of the many coaching appointments Pinnick got wrong, which eventually cost Nigeria.
It was only fitting that the home-based Eagles’ failure to qualify for the Africa Nations Championship (CHAN) was the perfect way to end Pinnick’s disastrous tenure.
Yet, despite these numerous failures, the 51-year-old administrator always portrayed himself as the saviour of Nigerian football with his boastful comments in front of the camera.
However, it was clear that it was all for the gallery. He never cared about Nigerian football but was only concerned about his image and personal ambition.
Pinnick arrived as a messiah of Nigerian football, but he would be remembered as the man who made it worse.
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