The maiden edition of the highly anticipated Aiteo/Nigerian Football Federation Awards held at Eko Hotel and Suites on Monday with eminent personalities in world football in attendance.
Also present to grace the event were Nigerian heroes of the game, politicians across all levels of government, amongst other distinguished ladies and gentlemen.
After taking a critical look at the event, here are my thoughts.
Remembering those who passed on
I start by saying kudos to the NFF for observing a minute silence for Kano Pillars player, Chinedu Udoji who died in a car crash yesterday. That said, it is utterly distasteful that a former member of the NFF board, Deji Tinubu who passed on in January has been forgotten so soon. Not even a mention of his name talk more of a minute silence. Too bad.
African time is no time!
The Aiteo NFF Awards was billed to commence by 7pm and last for the duration of a football match (90mins). But the awards didn’t start until about 8:30pm and lasted till like 11:30pm; the duration of two football matches. As at 9:45pm, the first award was yet to be given.
I know we are Africans, but it’s not a must to adopt “African time” because for an event of this magnitude, it doesn’t speak well of us.
Considering the awards ceremony was already 1hr 30mins behind schedule, I expected that there would be less speeches and musical performances; but you know now, we must do our thing in Naija. I must add that even without being behind schedule, there shouldn’t be unnecessary long speeches like that of the representative of the Sports Minister. The event is meant to be fun and not bore the guests.
Finally, to the awards proper. Honouring legends of the game in Nigeria is a very bright idea I must say but I’m sorry that Legends XI is a joke! No doubt, some of the guys on that list deserve to be there but my problem is with the notable absentees. Where is Late Stephen Keshi – who won AFCON as a player and coach of the Super Eagles? How about Late Rashidi Yekini – the current highest goalscorer for the Super Eagles? I’ll stop there for now.
All round deserved winners
Enough of all the negatives, let’s talk about the positives. I must say that for all the categories of awards presented everyone deserved their award and this brings credibility to the awards. Also it was good to see that all the winners were present to receive their awards except for Victor Moses who prepares to face Barcelona today.
Amaju Pinnick – his growing influence and goodwill
There is no doubt that Amaju Pinnick and his NFF board have done really well since they came on board. In fact, I think this is the best NFF board we’ve had in Nigeria. The board has done well on and off the pitch and that has translated in good results like we saw in the manner the boys qualified for the World Cup. In terms of marketing, the big boys in Nigeria’s corporate space have aligned with the team for sponsorship. Also the reception of the World Cup kit so far has been brilliant. All these things and many more has endeared Amaju to the hearts of Nigerians.
I must also add that with the FIFA President, Gianni Infantino; CAF President, Ahmad Ahmad and other members of the FIFA Executive Committee in attendance at the awards (even though we know they are here for the FIFA summit – the more reason we have to praise the board for their strategic thinking) the growing influence of Amaju can only bode well for Nigerian football on the continent and the global stage.
In all, it was a good job by the NFF but they can do a lot better.