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Drama, vote-buying allegations …as Gusau emerges new NFF president

Ibrahim Gusau, on Friday, emerged as the 35th President of the Nigeria Football Federation, following the election held on Friday in Benin City, the Edo State capital, Saturday PUNCH reports.

Gusau was elected as the new president of the NFF at the body’s 78th Elective Congress held at the Edo Heritage Hotel, replacing long-term incumbent Amaju Pinnick.

At the end of the first session of voting, Gusau had 21 votes, which was enough to defeat the outgoing NFF VP Seyi Akinwunmi, who came in second with 12 votes. The second runner-up Shehu Dikko, the other outgoing NFF VP, garnered six votes, while Abba Yola and Idah Peterside both had one vote each.

When it was obvious that a clear winner did not emerge as a result of FIFA  rule, which states that the winner must score up to 51% of the total votes cast, a re-run was needed for a winner to emerge.

Delegates at the venue were stunned when outgoing vice presidents Akinwunmi and Dikko stepped down from the re-run race, but former Nigeria, Enyimba and Moroka Swallows keeper Peterside opted to contest the second phase of the poll.

Peterside, who got one vote in the first round, still ended up with a solitary vote, while Gusau polled 39 votes to emerge victorious.

There was a total of 41 votes after the re-run, with 40 valid votes and one vote registered as invalid.

Meanwhile,  Peterside alleged that some aspirants stormed the venue of the poll with bags of dollars to buy votes.

Peterside stated, “We did not sleep till 3am (Friday morning) because we were trying to convince people. Some told us they were offered $15,000; $10,000. What gain do I have to lie about this?

“A young man told me that he had $5,000 shared into six places to offer zones who would vote.”

Peterside labelled the election venue a “crime scene”, and called on the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission to intervene.

“The EFCC should come here (Benin City) and search rooms of this hotel. This is a crime scene. I have integrity to spend and love for the game. Hoodlums will continue to run our football. How can it improve?

“I will make noise to the roof; how do we hold people responsible for all these issues?”

The 58-year-old Gusau, a civil servant with the Zamfara Ministry of Finance, now takes charge of an organisation that has faced a lot of criticism recently due to the poor domestic league, financial problems and corruption accusations. Enyimba Chairman, Chief Felix Anyansi emerged as the NFF 1st Vice President, replacing Seyi Akinwunmi with 23 votes, beating  Senator Obinna Ogba (eight votes).

Gusau, the current Zamfara FA chairman, was an executive member of the NFF board under former president Pinnick, who enjoyed the backing of FIFA amid corruption allegations that he denied prior to becoming the first person to win a second consecutive term as NFF boss.

Pinnick has said he will now shift his focus to his roles at the Confederation to African football and global body FIFA.

A member of the all-powerful FIFA Council, Pinnick’s attempt at a third term in office was rejected by a support base led by Gusau, prompting the 51-year-old to drop the idea of staying in power beyond 2022.

Earlier, the Edo State Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu, commended the outgoing NFF president Pinnick for adequately representing Nigeria in FIFA.

Shaibu said Pinnick represented the country well in FIFA and thus it will not be out of place to say he was the face of Nigeria in FIFA.

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