By Abdulsalam Baba Mahmud

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Ahmad Ahmad

Ahmad Ahmad, the new face of the Confederation of African Football (CAF), is one president-elect that many will wittingly choose not to admire. In fact, some didn’t not even grin with envy upon getting the wind that he has become Cameroun’s IssaHayatou’s heir apparent to the CAF presidential throne.

Never mind the fact that congratulatory messages from prominent football administrators and eminent world leaders across the world were poured in deluge, after his epic victory at the recently-conducted CAF general election in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

For instance, the Liberian Football Association Chairman and CAF executive member-elect, Hassan Musa Bility said that ”Africa has made a decision. We are moving forward with football and we have chosen change over the last leadership. We have proved to the world that we are ready for change that is blowing across the world. We have seen changes in Europe and in FIFA. Everywhere in football in the last 18 months there have been changes. We could not allow ourselves to be left behind. We want to be on that train of change.”

In a similar vein,  ex-Super Eagles’ Coach to the Korea/Japan World Cup mundial, Chief AdegboyeOnigbinde said: ”I think every system deserves the change it desires, and I believe the new CAF president must have considered that there was need for a change before he contested.”

Continuing, Onigbinde added ”what happened in African football portends a good omen for the continent. It is doubtless that when an individual holds onto a seat for very long a time, diminishing returns seems to set in. And when a new person comes in, new ideas will come on board. The tale of Hayatou typifies the former, while the later is of the effervescent Ahmad. Methinks, the new CAF president will pioneer and engineer laudable reforms that will fast-track the unprecedented growth of soccer in Africa.”

Though his emergence as CAF’s new boss, according to many pundits and football administrators, is a harbinger of good omen, which shall usher in a glorious dawn for the round leather game in Africa, the 57- year old Madagascan already has is job cut out for him.

However, to fulfill some of his cardinal electioneering promises the CAF president-elect must have to hit the ground running.

On a visit to Nigeria to solicit support prior to the election, Ahmad Ahmad, it would be recalled, assured all and sundry that he is coming with a breath of fresh air to CAF. He reiterated that he is committed to a CAF which is transparent, accountable and that is more inclusive of the actors of the game.

The CAF new helmsman promised an administrative style that will prioritize financial transparency, promote youth and women football, evolve new legal protection, while joining and focusing on new governance of FIFA.

Ahmad who also said that a compliance department will be arranged to ensure transparency at every level, noted that choosing countries for all upcoming competitions will not be made by the executive committee anymore, rather by a majority of votes in congress, even as he assured that contracts signed by CAF will be officially published and their amounts will also be communicated publicly.

”I will be a president who will share the burden of the CAF finances with the presidents of the members associations. The body, called the Special College of Presidents, will meet twice a year and will dictate the various expenses rules and the general operations of CAF”, he added.

However, having defied all odds to trounce the Long-standing IssaHayatou, it behooves on the new CAF president to hastily turn-around the plummeting fortunes of African football through the evolution and implementation of workable and development-targeted policies.

As a matter of prime importance, Ahmad should strive to ensure that under his leadership, politics is divorced from football management in many African countries. This, to some extent, will checkmate the potential threats of FIFA’s hammer falling on some African nations’ whose governments’ arbitrarily interfere in their football federation’s administrative matters.

Furthermore, the CAF president-elect should make good his promise of entrenching a culture of transparency and accountability. And as many Africans anticipate the prospect of a larger Africa Cup of Nations (with more teams), there is an especial need for the development of infrastructure in African countries that are regarded as football minnows, while periodic maintenance of facilities should be carried out in other countries that have top-notch stadia.

Ahmad’s campaign covenant that choosing countries for all upcoming competitions will henceforth not be made by the executive committee, but by a majority of votes in congress, even as he assured that contracts signed by CAF will be officially published and their amounts will also be communicated publicly, are agenda that many will eagerly wish they speedily come to fruition.

Just to add, there is also a need for the new CAF boss to unify African football and embrace countries who had ”lost their trust and confidence in CAF”, while also not being oblivious to the sacred mandate of obliterating the malady of graft in Africa’s football apex governing body. He should expedite action towards ensuring an increase in juicy sponsorship packages and revenue-accruing to some major CAF competitions and above all, he should make sure Africa gets nine (9) slots (if not more) at the expanded 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Of course, the fact that the new face of CAF executive board to be shepherded by Ahmad Ahmad is conglomerated with fresh bloods is heartwarming to many soccer pundits and other ardent followers of African football. But to Ahmad Ahmad and his new CAF executive team, the goodwills of many African football aficionados should serve as a morale booster which would drive them to fulfilling their laudable campaign promises. That way, African football may just be heading to the Eldorado in no distant future.

 

TAURARUWA