The city of Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia is the venue for what appears a titanic battle for the presidency of African football on Thursday, as incumbent Issa Hayatou from Cameroon slugs it out with Malagasy football administrator Ahmad Ahmad.
Never since he ascended the throne 29 years ago has the former Cameroonian athlete and basketball player been faced with a credible challenge to his presidency, with prospective candidates for the seat in the past either developing cold feet at the eleventh hour or summarily disqualified by clever amendments to the Statutes.
Hayatou mounted the throne at the age of 41, after a campaign hinged on the need for a new vigour and spirit at the top of CAF, and the promise of a new direction offered by youth and vibrancy.
On Thursday, he will be going for an eighth term in office, which will all amount to 33 years in office by 2021 – a term at headship of international sport equalled only by the inimitable Jules Rimet, who was President of FIFA between 1921 and 1954.
Delegates from all over the African continent, including the 53 persons who will cast their votes for either sustenance of the status quo or for change and new thinking, started pouring into the Ethiopian capital on Sunday. Of the 54 Member Associations of CAF, only the delegation from Eritrea (people from that country cannot enter Ethiopia, for political reasons) is not expected in Addis Ababa.
Nigeria’s delegation, including NFF President Amaju Pinnick who will vote on Thursday and also contest for a seat on the CAF Executive Committee, started arriving on Monday, and also includes NFF Vice Presidents Seyi Akinwunmi and Shehu Dikko, NFF Executive Committee member Ibrahim Musa Gusau and the General Secretary, Mohammed Sanusi.
Chairman of the Senate Committee on Sports and Youth Development, Distinguished Senator Obinna Ogba, arrived on Tuesday night to give full support to Amaju Pinnick’s bid for a seat on the CAF Executive Committee – an elite panel of 15 persons (plus two FIFA Council members) who determine the direction of the African game.
Also in Addis Ababa is the President of Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Chief Solomon Ogba.
On Tuesday, Pinnick received another in a series of goodwill messages from the President of the Nigeria Senate, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki.
Of the two candidates for the presidency, only Ahmad traveled to Nigeria to solicit for support, and was warmly received by Nigeria’s number three man, Senate President Bukola Saraki and Sports Minister Solomon Dalung.
Pinnick is pitching against Beninoise football administrator Anjorin Moucharafou for the West B Zone seat in one of the most anticipated contests for the CAF Executive Committee.
Also of interest to African football followers is the contest between FIFA Council member Lydia Nsekera (Burundi) and Isha Johansen (Sierra Leone) for the only female seat on the CAF Executive Committee.
In the West A Zone, incumbent Amadou Diakite of Mali is challenged by Liberia’s Musa Bility. Chad’s Adoum Djibrine is unopposed in the Central Zone, but incumbent Magdi Shams El Din (Sudan), Juneidi Basha Tilmo (Ethiopia), Suleiman Hassan Waberi (Djibouti) and Moses Magogo (Uganda) will vie for the single seat in Central East Zone.
In the North Zone, incumbent Mohamed Raouraoua (Algeria) faces Anwar El Tashani (Libya) and Fouzi Lekjaa (Morocco).
In the Southern zone, respected South African administrator Danny Jordaan (chief organizer of the 2010 FIFA World Cup) will slug it out with incumbent 1st Vice President Suketu Patel (Seychelles), Rui Eduardo da Costa (Angola) and Frans Mbidi (Namibia) for two seats.
For the African representatives on the FIFA Council, Ghana’s Kwesi Nyantakyi will battle Leodegar Tenga of Tanzania for the Anglophone seat, with Ivorian Augustin Sidy Diallo and DR Congo’s Omari Constant Selemani gunning for the Francophone seat.
CAF sources hinted on Wednesday that Tunisia’s Tarek Bouchamaoui will take the FIFA Council seat for the Arabic/Portuguese/Spanish category, with his opponent Hani Abo Rida of Egypt having been moved to the Open Category.
Following the withdrawals of Jordaan and South Sudan’s Chabur Goc Alei from the Open Category, it is a smooth sail for Abo Rida, Guinea’s Almamy Kabele Camara and Burundi’s Lydia Nsekera, the only female candidate.
CAF PRESIDENCY IN HISTORY
Abdel Aziz Abdallah Salem (Egypt) – 1957 – 1958
Abdel Aziz Mostafa (Egypt) – 1958 – 1968
Abdel Halim Mohamed (Sudan) – 1968 – 1972
Ydnekatchew Tessema (Ethiopia) – 1972 – 1987
Abdel Halim Mohamed (Sudan) – 1987 – 1988 (acting capacity)
Issa Hayatou (Cameroon) – 1988 –
Those Who Will Vote
Mohamed Raouraoua (Algeria)
Artur de Almeida (Angola)
Anjorin Moucharafou (Benin Republic)
Mclean Letshwiti (Botswana)
Sita Sangare (Burkina Faso)
Reverien Ndikuriyo (Burundi)
Sidiki A Roko (Cameroon)
Victor Osorio (Cape Verde)
Edouard Ngaissona (Central Africa Republic)
Mahamoud Moctar (Chad)
Tourqui Salim (Comoros)
Jean Michel Mbono (Congo)
Omari Constant Selemani (DR Congo)
Augustin Sidy Diallo (Cote d’Ivoire)
Souleiman Hassan Waberi (Djibouti)
Hany Abo Rida (Egypt)
Andres-Jorge Mbomio (Equatorial Guinea)
Juneidi Tilmo (Ethiopia)
Pierre Alain Mounguengui (Gabon)
Lamin Kaba Bajo (The Gambia)
Kwesi Nyantakyi (Ghana)
Mohamed Souare (Guinea)
Manuel Lopes Nascimento (Guinea Bissau)
Nicholas Mwendwa Kithuku (Kenya)
Salemane Phafane (Lesotho)
Musa Bility (Liberia)
Ahmad Ahmad (Madagascar)
Walter Nyamilandu (Malawi)
Boubacar Diarra (Mali)
Ahmed Yahya (Mauritania)
Mohamed Ally Samir Sobha (Mauritius)
Fouzi Lekjaa (Morocco)
Alberto Junior (Mozambique)
Frans Mbidi (Namibia)
Hamidou Djibrilla (Niger Republic)
Amaju Melvin Pinnick (Nigeria)
Vincent Nzamwita (Rwanda)
Domingos Monteiro (Sao Tome e Principe)
Augustin Senghor (Senegal)
Elvis Chetty (Seychelles)
Isha Johansen (Sierra Leone)
Abdiqani Said Arab (Somalia)
Danny Jordaan (South Africa)
Augustino (South Sudan)
Mutasim Gafaar Sirelkhatim (Sudan)
Adam Mthethwa (Swaziland)
Jamal Malinzi (Tanzania)
Kossi Akpovy (Togo)
Wadie Jary (Tunisia)
Moses Magogo (Uganda)
Andrew Kamanga (Zambia)
Phillip Chiyangwa (Zimbabwe)