This week, focus in African football shifted to Kinshasa, the capital city of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) which is arguably the biggest country on the continent and reputably the most mineral-rich place on God’s green earth.
Kinshasa hosted the FIFA Workshop for media operatives, in an all-expense paid trip that brought together the most active journalists on the continent with regards to continental football.
Whilst similar workshops have been held previously, case in point, one held in Antananarivo, Madagascar in 2019, this year’s edition held a lot of significance coming as it did on the back of PWC revelations of massive theft of $24 million from CAF by its senior elected officers and FIFA’s silent complicity in this looting.
FIFA and its President Gianni Infantino have the COVID-19 virus and its rapid spread to thank for giving him an excuse to postpone the much-awaited FIFA Congress slated for next May on the basis of force majeure, because the coalition of UEFA and CONMEBOL have seriously pertinent questions that they wish to ask Infantino, including why he has stood aside and allowed African Confederation officials a free rein to raid the confederations coffers, while he (infantino) has tightly leashed his toothless Ethics committee from taking any action.
Bringing Africa’s top media minds to a single sitting allows FIFA to sell their preferred narrative to the continent, including the so-called success of its massive FIFA Forward program in Africa.
Hosting the event was DRC FA President, CAF 1st VP and FIFA Council member Constant Omari Selemani, a man who is also directly implicated in the disappearance of the $24 million from CAF coffers.
He was accompanied by fellow Congolese Véron Mosengo-Omba, FIFA Chief Member Associations Officer, who luckily emigrated from DRC to escape the rabid poverty, and whom providence placed in the same University class with FIFA President Gianni Infantino, who would, upon his ascension to the throne of FIFA, handpicked him and planted him to this position.
The duo of Omari and Veron used this media opportunity afforded by the Workshop to unveil solar panel floodlights on 2 stabilized hard ground football pitches in Kinshasa. To be clear, the villainous duo were only unveiling the lighting system because the fields already existed.
Apparently this lighting was funded under the auspices of the Gianni Infantino brainchild, the FIFA Forward Program.
Apparently this follows the success of the inaugural FIFA-funded pilot project to install solar-powered floodlighting in Burkina Faso in 2017, and work on the DRC project in the Kasa-Vubu municipality of Kinshasa began in June 2019.
“Thanks to the solar-powered lighting in Kinshasa, the children no longer have to play football in high temperatures at midday or in the afternoon, but can use the pitch until midnight. This creates a flexibility that will benefit the community and football in the country equally.” Veron was quoted saying.
Now therein lies the tragedy of Africa, two Congolese with strong affiliations to FIFA, granted an opportunity and resources to make a massive impact in their war-torn, ebola-ravaged, sickeningly poor country through football, and the project that both select is one that can only be described as a Mickey Mouse undertaking.
It must be remembered that the new FIFA Forward Programme 2.0 allots the annual sum of $1.5 million per FA from 2019 – 2023, with a small part of this money ($500,000) going to operational expenses like salaries and running the FA, while the rest ($1,000,000) should go to specific development programmes.
The question playing out in our collective minds is, is this the best DRC could do with their share of $1 million for the year 2019-2020.
To illustrate the width of difference in how FAs approach their FIFA Forward grants application, you would need to compare Kenya and South Sudan.
Kenya lost $1.3 million to a fake company in the UK which claimed capable of selling them a fully-loaded OB Van, while strife-torn South Sudan are constructing a stadium with their share of the grants.
Admittedly, these Congolese don’t give a damn about the development of football in their country, happy to ride on the success of their pittance of clubs like TP Mazembe which is fueled by the resources of its President Moise Katumbi.
But it gives an indication into the mind of Constant Omari, the man who has sat upon the throne of DRC football for Donkeys years, rising to the top of continental and World football by ingratiating himself into the good graces of whomever is the CAF President at the time, but lacking the balls to go for the top seat himself.
Constant Omari took over the role of CAF 1st Vice-President following the ejection of Nigerian FA President Amaju Pinnick in the “night of the long knives” last July in Cairo on the sidelines of the 2019 AFCON and the 2019 Ordinary General Assembly of CAF.
The 62-yar old Omari has been a FIFA Council member since 2015 but has been at the helm of FECOFA since 2003 when the mantle fell onto him unexpectedly, he was elected to his first full term in 2005, then subsequently in 2009, 2013 before his current term which he “won unopposed” in 2017.
Omari managed this by tinkering with the composition of the electoral committee which in turn then ruled out his sole competitor, journalist Jean-Claude Muamba Mukundi, from contention on the basis of “non-fulfilment of certain criteria”, without specifying which ones.
So shambolic are the FECOFA elections that Omari (as the incumbent) is able to keep the venue of the electoral congress a secret with 2-days to a vote.
FIFA does not much like Omari, preferring instead to deal directly with TP Mazembe’s Katumbi as was the case last year when Infantino cancelled the latter part of his Africa tour to attend 80th anniversary celebrations of TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi.
While Omari is installing solar floodlights on pre-existing fields with $1 million of FIFA Forward grants, Katumbi announced the beginning of the construction of a 50,000 seater stadium for TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi while flanked by Infantino who (not to be outshone by Katumbi) announced the setting up of a $1 Billion fund for African FAs to improve or acquire infrastructure.
Given a choice between Katumbi and Omari, who would Infantino prefer to be associated with? There is also the small matter that Katumbi is of mixed-blood between a Congolese and a European, ahem!
To give a glimpse into the mind of Omari, it must be remembered that in May 2019 he made formal complaint against his fellow CAF Exco member, Liberian Musa Hassan Bility, claiming that Bility had insinuated some things about him that he found unpalatable.
A whole 2nd VP (at the time before he was promoted) sat down to write a letter to the GS of CAF, seeking disciplinary action against Bility, over a tiff on the CAF Exco whatsapp group.
How juvenile does one need to be to go to this extent?
Bility, who knows Omari quite well, posited that Omari had for over 12 years been a courtier to former CAF President Issa Hayatou, before he quietly began to alienate Hayatou from his former allies, thus weakening him politically.
Bility continues to lay bare various facts, including one that Omari was greatly distrusted by his Exco colleagues, many of whom did not want him in the Ahmad camp in the months preceding the 2017 Presidential elections.
Apparently the CAF Exco members at the time knew Omari’s opportunism and that he had sensed a turn in the tide for Hayatou, therefore jumped shipped.
Bility then makes the bold assertion that Omari had been trying to stop members of the CAF Exco from ventilating on issues freely, which would probably allude to the matters surrounding a forensic audit demanded by members of the Exco.
It was this statement by Bility on the CAF Exco whatsapp group that led to the departure of CAF President Ahmad, who in his characteristic cowardice chose to flee instead of offering leadership to his Exco members.
The CAF Exco whatsapp group then collapsed after this incident.
US President Donald Trump refers to many of the African countries as “shithole countries”, and DRC takes the cake when it comes to reinforcing this attribute.
To understand why the Ahmad era has been plagued with so much turmoil, you need to see it from the position that he (Ahmad) hates competence and therefore prefers to surround himself with FA Presidents from “shithole countries” like DRC, whose sole contribution to CAF is to sing his praises and laud his lunacy as he takes the organization to the sewers.
In a recent interview with top African football journalist Osasu Obayiuwana in Kinshasa, Omari was asked whether he thought it prudent for the CAF President to have arranged for members of CAF’s “Muslim brotherhood” (those FA President who profess the Islamic faith) to travel to Saudi Arabia for an Umrah in 2018, all at the expense of CAF, and this was Omari’s thoughtful reply;
“I don’t see any problem with this. It is part of the welfare system we have in Africa. We are not in Europe and we should not be judged by values in Europe? We have our own ways in Africa and they should be respected. The money was not stolen!”
The elephant in the room obviously is, why only the “Muslim brotherhood?” Wouldn’t it have been prudent too to send the FA Presidents who profess the Christian faith to their own pilgrimage to Jerusalem, to visit the birthplace of Christ and the place he was crucified?
But we all know that the Umrah pilgrimage was about consolidating Ahmad’s base and rewarding them for their support in 2017 election, and ensuring that they remain in the fold in the future.
Obviously FIFA is limping along precariously, especially when you have these two Congolese intellectual dwarves in such key positions.
Déjà vu is that feeling that one has lived through the present situation before.
This week, we saw a renewal of the age-old era of strategic partnerships between African FAs, with a new one launched between the Djibouti FA and the Mauritania FA on 5th March 2020.
The signing ceremony presided over by the respective FA Presidents Ahmed Ould Yahya of Mauritania and Souleiman Waberi of Djibouti, is reminiscent of similar signing ceremonies between African FAs and the Royal Morocco FA (FRMF) in the run-up to the vote on 2026 FIFA World Cup hosts.
Morocco reportedly had such deals with at least 30 African FAs with promises of legacy projects from the World Cup.
When the bid was lost, majority of these FAs never heard from FRMF and its fast-talking, itchy-fingered President Fouzi Lekjaa again.
The question at the back of the minds of majority of African FAs currently is, considering the financial situation in Mauritania, can they seriously be expected to assist another economic basket-case like Djibouti, or is this the classic case of a blind man attempting to lead another blind man, to cross a highway?
African FAs need to wise up pretty quick to these deals, and their promoters.
We have previously shown that the field for the 2021 CAF Presidential race is slowly filling up and that one of the contenders for the top seat in Mauritania FA President Ahmed Yahya.
In the CECAFA region and for a long time, Djibouti FA President Souleiman Waberi has been the point-man for current CAF President Ahmad Ahmad, in whipping the other 11 FAs into line, to vote for him and his many misguided ideals.
With the recent ejection of Waberi from the coveted position of Chairman of the CAF Referees committee, he is now a free agent to sell his particular set of skills to the highest bidder.
Obviously, the FA Presidents from the CECAFA region continue to astound, how they allow the FA President from a basket-case country to lead them by the nose like a prize bull, to be auctioned to CAF Presidential candidates?
It is very clear that without his high seat atop the Referees committee, Souleiman Waberi is a spent cartridge, without the clout and bargaining power that he previously possessed, but now trying to sell a difficult candidate in a fast changing CAF landscape.
Most damagingly though, is the fact that Ahmed Yahya wishes to continue right where Ahmad Ahmad left off, by selecting a member of the now increasingly demonized “Muslim brotherhood” which shows that he (like Ahmad) are uncomfortable with the FA Presidents who may profess a different religious faith.
For example, why not approach his CAF counterpart and Uganda FA President Moses Magogo to lobby the CECAFA region?
Once again we postulate, that the forest may have changed, but the monkeys remain the same.