In Nigeria, football is the King of sports. We talk football, we eat football and we drink football-indeed for so many in Africa’s most populous country, football is a religion.
It is because of the importance of that game in Nigeria that Amaju Melvin Pinnick can be placed in a very high pedestal as one of the country’s most famous individuals.
Apart from occupying the enviable position of President, Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), Amaju is a record breaker par excellence. He broke the long-held jinx that no Nigerian FA Chair can secure another term by securing an overwhelming victory at last year’s election that got him a second 4-year tenure in office.
Returning to the football House was not because Pinnick is adept at playing local politics or that he had millions to throw around, no no!his secret weapon was his total commitment to the development of football in Nigeria which was exhibited by his sterling work ethic and monumental achievement in his first term.
He brought a new philosophy to football administration in Nigeria, starting with transparency and probity to securing mega deals for the association, its products as well as the national teams!
Born in Warri, Delta State to late Chief Oritsetimeyin Japhet Pinnick and Madam Rebecca Ayomike in 1973, like King Midas, anything he has touched in football, has turned to gold.
Those who are close to him swear that what he has become today has occurred through a dint of hardwork , focus, and dedication. He is the fifteenth of his parent’s nineteen children, so from a very young age he had to carve a niche for himself, he had to understand that you need to do something extraordinary to stand out. This has helped to shape the trajectory of his life.
We are told that Pinnick, fired by his love for the beautiful game joined the Delta State FA and was very eager to learn. In 2003, he became the Vice Chairman of the DSFA and later the Delta State FA Chairman.
He, it was, in 2007, that convinced then Governor, Dr. Emmanuel Uduaghan to establish the Delta State Sports Commission. The aim was to give sports a professional and institutional platform to thrive and this helped to reenact the glory days of sports in one-half of the former Bendel State.
Under Pinnick, during the 2012 National Sports Festival in Lagos, Delta emerged the overall champions, coasting home with 114 Gold. 99 Silver and 75 Bronze, the state displaced the defending Champions Rivers to second.
It was this monumental feat that people around the country began to take notice of this well-traveled young man who dreams big and has the knack for excellence.
That was not all, about this time, Delta State-owned Warri Wolves was also making giant strides in the Nigerian league and everyone could see the input of the FA.
The Passion of Pinnick was infectious and admirable, Chairman Pinnick was at almost every match. It was obvious that for him football administration was serious business. It was no surprise therefore that he brought a lot of innovation to football administration in the state chief among them was his ability to leverage his contacts and connection to attract private sector sponsorship for the DSFA. He was indeed a technocrat with a difference.
So when the Warri boy decided that he was ripe enough to go national with his ideas and made an audacious bid for the Presidency, some did not give him a chance.
Those who were in the race in 2014 included Shehu Diukko, late Taiwo Ogunjobi, Dominic Iorfa and Amanze Ugbechulam. He was the only one who had not previously held a position in the Glass House. But when the chips were down, he won. He secured 32 votes from the available 44-and that was when Nigerian Football began to enjoy its steady reawakening.
Today, under his leadership, Nigerian football is gradually getting back to its pride of place, he has added a touch of spice to the game with the mega deals he swung for the National teams-and now he is taking it a step further with the partnership with oil & gas giant, AITEO for the NFF Awards.
With a wonderful performance as the NFF President, it was no surprise that he was soon elected to the CAF Executive Committee as the First Vice President.
In International Football, Pinnick is well-respected and is a Member of the Organizing Committee for Fifa Competitions. He is very close to world football president, Gianni Infantino.
This closeness was exhibited by how the body stood by Pinnick when some forces tried to scuttle his second term bid. And when he was elected into CAF, the fifa President wrote
“I have no doubt that your considerable experience, combined with your human qualities, will help you overcome all future challenges in your new position in the service of African football community .I look forward to continuing to work with you and seeing you in person to congratulate you.
Just last week, at the second edition of the NFF Awards which was aimed at celebrating the legends of Nigerian football, President Pinnick showed his gravitas and clout again, this time guess who was in town? The most important and powerful woman in world football, fifa Secretary-General, Fatma Samba Diouf Samoura was in Lagos, and she received a special award.
This debonair family man who attended the famous Hussey College and studied Political Science/Public Administration at the University of Benin is a man at the Pinnacle of an exciting career in football.
The first-rate sport administrator who loves swimming, spending quality time with family and attending comedy shows is a Master of the Game who more than deserves to be our Boss Of The Week.