Youths Should Dream Big, Start Small, Act Now – Segun Odegbami
Speaking on Channels Television’s Sunrise Daily on Friday, Mr Segun Odegbami said that “in 1985 some young Nigerian boys unknown to people, went to China and came back winning. Nobody knew them, nobody gave them a chance.
“If the only thing they can take away from me coming out to say I want to be the FIFA President is the fact that a Nigerian can actually become the President of FIFA, I think I am fulfilled”.
Mr Odegbami said the reason behind contesting for FIFA’s Presidency was because there was vacancy.
“As you know, election will hold on February 26, 2016 and we have seen the eligibility criteria among the contestants.
“When you look at the circumstances around football in the world today, particularly around FIFA, it calls for intervention of people who truly love the game, know about the game and have answers into the future.
“I think I belong to the category of persons that are eligible. I have experiences in this game and I think I can add value to whatever is there now,” he stressed.
About how he intends to reach out to people in the federation, Odegbami said that “we have a team that is consulting with a lot of people, agencies and putting in place a road map that we have to chat to get to February 26 and that will involve contacting friendly federations that will give me an endorsement.
“From what I have seen so far, it is truly exciting, so people should wait, watch and see,” he said.
Mr Odegbami, however, gave insight on the support he was getting from the FA.
“The process started with me making contact with the leadership of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), to tell them my interest and to get a feel of what the President felt and he gave the green light.
“However, if you look at the rules, we will find out that what is needed is not an approval by your football federation, you have to come through them because they provide the eligibility and integrity score mark for you because you need to have been active in football for two years out of five years, so they will tell FIFA that you are qualified in that regard.
“You need the letter to come from them because FIFA doesn’t deal with individuals or government but deals with federations.
“So I did what was necessary by speaking with the leadership and I have written an official letter to them.
“Except if there is something somewhere, I don’t see any reason why they won’t approve my application,” he maintained, optimistic of a favourable decision.
Mr Odegbami, however, stressed that it would be fantastic when there are two or three people vying for the post.
“If two people from one country could be interested in becoming the FIFA President, it just shows the quality of persons you have in that country,” he said.
Mr Odegbami, nonetheless, debunked a claim that he was embarrassing Nigeria.
“I thought Nigerians are celebrating that there is an ordinary Nigerian who thinks the country is good enough to be President of FIFA and people are celebrating everywhere,” he said.
Mr Odegbami admitted that he had a football administrations skills.
“For eight years, I served in a committee in Confederation of African Football (CAF), for eight years, I served as a member of the NFF, most of my life. Since I left football, I have been managing clubs; from Shooting Stars to Gateway Football Club , I am the Manager of First Bank Football Club, I own a club, I am the Chairman of the Local Government Football Council of my area and I am a member of the football family.
“I have done more things in football than most people alive today and as well, covered the entire spectrum of game, more than any Nigerian.
“It is not about the game itself. The game is what you play on the field and even at FIFA, there is nothing wrong with the game, the area that is problematic is very small which is about the leadership, integrity of the person and the integrity of their activities.
“People are focusing on the money and power in FIFA which are part of the problems.
“Meanwhile, there is a whole world out there, who are the true people in football, who should be enjoying it, who should be celebrating it and are left out completely,” he added.