Say what you like about Amaju Pinnick, President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), one thing that is certain about him is that he never hides his feelings. He is not one to act in stillness; of what use would that be when he could easily vault into the Landmannalaugar and announce his presence?
Pinnick never does quiet, he never does silence. That’s how he operates. That’s who he is.
Prior to becoming the NFF President in 2014, he had stated in no unclear terms his antipathy toward the then head coach of the Super Eagles, Stephen Keshi, a position he held even after becoming the NFF boss in controversial circumstances and that eventually led to Keshi’s sack, but not before a series of public spats.
Also, while unveiling Sunday Oliseh as the Super Eagles head coach in July 2015, and in an apparent bid to show he had made the right choice in appointing the former Nigeria captain who had a limited coaching experience up to that point, declared that the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder was the ‘African Guardiola’ – an obvious reference to Pep Guardiola, who achieved significant success with Barcelona having had a very limited coaching experience prior.
Then there was the announcement of Tammy Abraham agreeing to represent Nigeria ahead of England, something the young striker debunked immediately.
He also never hidden his desire to be on both the FIFA Council and the CAF Executive committee – although he succeeded with the latter. That’s Pinnick, should you have any doubts. You could almost love him for his no-holds-barred manner of speaking and that would mean something, wouldn’t it?
His latest round of vocal dexterity is all too familiar; a feeling of déjà vu. Haven’t we all seen this before? With Keshi, with Oliseh and with Siasia?
Like the typical Nigerian politician, it seems Pinnick has mastered the art of public manipulations in a bid to get his way with the Super Eagles coaches, usually culminating in the sack or resignation of that particular coach who has found himself in the NFF boss’s crosshairs. It really isn’t that hard to read.
With just over six months left of his contract, it would seem Pinnick has picked on Gernot Rohr, the incumbent Eagles’ coach. While the reasons for the falling out remains unclear, it is believed Rohr got himself into Pinnick’s bad books by revealing to close friends how he was being owed by the Glass House.
As expected, the former CAF First Vice President hasn’t hidden his true feelings and has given indications – albeit subtle – that a new contract offer to the German coach will be laced with stringent conditions.
A similar scenario played out with Keshi when he was offered a new contract – albeit reluctantly – after it became clear getting rid of him would infuriate the government, who wanted the former defender to continue in his role.
Rohr’s contract doesn’t run out until next summer and while he would have no choice than to leave if favourable terms are not offered, he knows Pinnick is hamstrung and can hardly sack him now and for two reasons: the backlash from Nigerians and the sum that would be required as severance package.
Unlike the average Nigerian coach that would be sacked and still be owed for years, the NFF boss knows he wouldn’t get away with that with Rohr.
And the underlying message of it all is simple; Pinnick is back to his games but he’s stuck…for now at least.
By Chris Oguguo