The former governor of Abia State Orji Uzor Kalu, who likes to be called “the Pillar of Sports in Africa” (a title he appropriated from the previous megalomaniac that used it, MKO Abiola), has thrown his hat in the ring for the Fifa presidency.
Sepp Blatter, the current Fifa president, was forced to step down after US investigations revealed that his organisation is a cesspit of corruption, with Fifa executive committee members taking bribes from countries bidding for World Cup hosting rights.
As governor, Kanu invested state funds into Enyimba FC of Aba, helping them win the African Champions League trophy twice.
His chances of winning the presidency are, as boxing promoter Don King would say, between slim and none and Slim just left town. The Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) has said that their executive board will meet soon to decide whether to back Kalu.
The former governor has, however, received the backing of former English Premier League striker and Nigerian TV personality John Fashanu. Fashanu said that as Issa Hayatou, the African football confederation president has declared he will not run, the confederation should back Kalu.
He added: “Those of us urging Kalu to run are doing so because we know his pedigree and antecedents. He is a competent and charismatic manager whose candidacy can fly in Africa and other parts of the world. He has managed his businesses well and football is now big business. Kalu has what it takes to run FIFA. He has what it takes to take on Platini and others and win the FIFA presidency. We are backing him because he is the right person for the job. Again, some of us strongly believe it is high time the world elects an African FIFA president and the right choice will be Kalu.”
Fashanu has never seen dirty money that he didn’t like and has history in backing unsavoury characters, including pimping his services for a “youth foundation” formed by Hamza Mustafa, the former chief security officer for Nigerian despot Sani Abacha. It is therefore no surprise that he would become an advocate for Kalu, who was charged by the country’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) with stealing 5.6bn naira ($28.1m) from his state’s treasury. Some of this money has been stashed away in US banks and the man owns several properties in the US. This would bring him within the rader of US money-laundering laws.
It would be unbelievable, even by Nollywood movie standards, if after US investigations brought down Sepp Blatter, he is replaced by Kalu, who could be facing money-laundering charges too.