Nigeria loses as Ahmad unseats Hayatou for CAF job, excitement across Africa
Africa is dancing on the streets, and the people are singing good riddance. That captures the mood across the soccer-loving continent as Cameroonian Issa Hayatou’s 29-year reign as president of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) came to an end.
He was ousted Thursday in the much anticipated election for the African footballing top post by Madagascar’s Ahmad Ahmad. The 57-year-old Ahmad won the poll 34-20 at the CAF Congress in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
The biggest loser in the contest is Nigeria which arm-twisted her Federation secretary Amaju Pinnick to back Hayatou because of Nigeria’s ties with Cameroon. Some powerful persons in the Presidency acting through the Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, had compelled Pinnick to vote for Hayatou.
The 70-year-old Hayatou, had been in power since 1988 and was seeking an eighth four-year term.
Prior to joining the race, Ahmad was the President of Malagasy Football Federation, and not much had been heard from him over the years because he was a silent member of CAF’s Executive Committee.
He is from a northwestern Malagasy village and is the first Madagascan to run for the presidency of a continental confederation.
Ahmad changed his stance when he revealed that he would be the one to take on Hayatou.
Hayatou had been concerned that Ahmad was pulling the strings from Southern Africa, especially when 24 African football association (FA) presidents met with FIFA president Gianni Infantino in Harare recently.
Ahmad’s progress would come as a relief to South Africa, as their association had long bemoaned the political power struggle Safa faced against the French language nations in the North of Africa.
Hayaatou’s exit was celebrated by many football fans in Africa who feel it was high time he left the scene.
Photo: New and the old: Ahmad and Hayatou