President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, has dismissed allegations of corruption and financial misappropriation leveled against him and his board.
Pinnick and his board are alleged to have embezzled $650,000, originally meant for a friendly match against Bolivia in Uyo in 2015, donated by the former Governor of Akwa Ibom, Godswill Akpabio.
Speaking on a radio programme, The Hangout, on Metro FM and Bond FM, Pinnick said they were simply misinformed.
He explained that the Ebola outbreak at the time, prevented Bolivia from traveling to Nigeria, although they hinged their refusal to honour the international friendly on security concerns.
According to Pinnick, the NFF later got Uganda as a late replacement and at the end of the match which was played on March 25, the balance was refunded to the Akwa Ibom State government.
“We were meant to play Bolivia and it was captured. That money was not given to us by FIFA, it was given to us by the Akwa Ibom State government. I went to the Liaison office in Abuja to see Akpabio then the governor of Akwa Ibom State and he said let’s play Bolivia.
“But because there was Ebola in Nigeria, Bolivia didn’t want to come out to say it was Ebola, they cited security issues because it was the day after the national election that brought in President Buhari in 2015.
“After Bolivia turned down our request, we had about 4 days to work out something, that prompted our call to the Ugandans and they were very happy and they came to Akwa Ibom and they even defeated us there in Akwa Ibom. And we did plus and minus and the balance was given to the Akwa Ibom State government,” he said.
Pinnick also slammed claims that NFF board members are in office for personal gains.
“For me as president, I forfeited my legitimate entitlements to housing which my predecessors had always collected as I am not interested in dipping my hands into the NFF finances.
“My predecessor (Aminu Maigari) got N12m to N13m every year for accommodation. In four years that is N48m. I have been president for five years, I have the same entitlements, I have not collected a dime for accommodation.
“The reason why I am doing that is not because I have too much money, but simply following my passion. So when I hear people say NFF board members are corrupt I wonder where the corruption is coming from.
“The Executive Members are driven by passion and are not there because of what to benefit; please these people should allow us run Nigerian football.
“From the start of my tenure till date, it’s been one induced crisis to the other. The distractions have remained our only impediment not to attain one hundred percent self-funding by now.
“What we tried to do is to build Nigerian football and allow corporate companies look at it as an entity they can partner not just for prominence or Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) but a relationship that will also be beneficial to them.
“The decision of some persons to constantly attack me and the board serves no good purpose and has been counterproductive because it ditches the drive to get more private sector partners to invest and help grow the game locally.
“The protracted Chris Giwa crisis cost the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) from going back on television. The flag off of the La Liga / NPFL Under 15 tourney was also stopped.
“Obviously, people do not understand the magnitude of destruction which has plagued Nigerian football due to this crisis,” he added.