The Nigeria Football Federation has finally broken their silence over allegations made against them by former Nigerian international player Olusegun Odegbami that the Federation and some other prominent football figures worked against his FIFA Presidency ambition.
In a strong worded press statement, the NFF chastised Odegbami and also warned him to stop his campaign of calumny against the NFF and prominent Nigerian football figures and face up to the reality that he undid his own campaign for a slot at the FIFA Presidency.
The NFF explained that the former Green Eagles’ captain Odegbami failed to secure the statutory five nominations needed to put him on the ballot for next year’s FIFA Presidential election, and has been relentless in throwing salvos against the NFF and prominent figures like Dr. Amos Adamu and Chief Orji Uzor Kalu.
“We are thoroughly disappointed at the conduct of Chief Odegbami since his failed bid,” Hon. Suleiman Yahaya-Kwande, Chairman of the NFF Media and Publicity Committee, stated. “He was his own big problem, with the letter he wrote castigating the leadership of FIFA and CAF, which he brazenly copied to these eminent figures.
“We consider Chief Odegbami an elder statesman in Nigeria football, but he has been throwing a lot of tantrums lately. He has been accusing very prominent and illustrious persons of so many things, and imagining himself to be a saint.”
Yahaya-Kwande, also a ranking member of the House of Representatives, said the onus was on Odegbami to secure his five nominations outside NFF’s endorsement.
“The NFF is aware that Odegbami reached out to the Football Associations of Ghana, Togo, Benin Republic and Zambia. How is his failure the fault of the NFF? They told him to his face that they were opposed to him because of his statements against the President of CAF, who is now Acting FIFA President.
“He said the NFF wasted time in endorsing him. As far back as September 8, we set out conditions for himself and Chief Orji Kalu to meet before we could endorse either of them. We always emphasized extensive consultations by the aspirants. It is outrightly mischievous for him to give the impression that the NFF was his problem. The NFF President was in Cairo, Egypt to campaign for him for the five nominations, but where was Odegbami himself on the day that mattered?
“Let it be said that Nigeria was the only country where more than one person showed interest in the race. Odegbami was a great football player and brought honour to Nigeria, but Chief Kalu also brought honour to Nigeria through extensive support for Enyimba to win top laurels. It is also true that Kalu indicated his interest before Odegbami did. Yet, we eventually endorsed Odegbami.”
Yahaya-Kwande emphasized that none of the candidates who eventually got on the ballot relied solely on their National Association to get the five nominations for them.
“Odegbami has this strange idea that everyone else is tainted and he is not! He worked against himself. It is not NFF’s problem; it is his problem, entirely.”