Photos of popular billionaire businessmen, Alhaji Aliko Dangote and Femi Otedola at the FIFA The Best Awards in London flooded the internet on Monday night and caused quite a stir.
But as many wondered how these boardroom titans came to be hobnobbing with the governors of world football, President of the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick, quickly put wondering minds to rest.
According to Pinnick, who was recently reelected as NFF President in Katsina, Dangote and Otedola were taken to the awards on VVIP tickets as part of efforts by his administration to improve private sector funding of Nigerian football.
While Dangote, with a net worth of $15 billion, is the richest black man in the world, Otedola is one of Nigeria’s wealthiest men, and Nigerian football would greatly benefit from such deep pockets, Pinnick believes.
He said, “Alhaji Dangote is perhaps the biggest business brand in Africa, and one of Nigeria’s leading Ambassadors. I am very happy to be in a position to invite himself and Mr. Otedola to such an event of global stature and essence.
“As a nation, it is important that we continue to showcase our best brands in all fields. Doing this enhances the stock of our country globally. Alhaji Dangote and Mr. Otedola were happy to meet the world’s top governors of football and the football governors were also happy to meet them.
“Our objective as a Football Federation is to attain financial autonomy so that the government can channel resources otherwise taken up by football into other critical sectors, and we believe that if we have persons like Dangote and Otedola partnering with Nigerian Football, we will get there faster.”
Pinnick, who is also CAF’s Ist Vice President, said the NFF had invited Dangote to some engagements previously.
“The NFF has invited Alhaji Dangote to a couple of matches previously, including the friendly match with England in London before the FIFA World Cup in Russia, but he was unable to attend. Now, we are discussing with him on a relationship with Nigerian Football and he is showing immense interest.”