- Members of the FIFA Council and CAF Executive Committee
- Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen of the Diplomatic Corps
- Distinguished Award Nominees
- Distinguished guests in your respective rangs and titles
- Dear friends of the press
- Ladies and gentlemen
First and foremost, on my behalf and the entire African football family, I present my best wishes for the year 2017 to everyone present here, and to all those watching on TV.
Wishes which I present most particularly to His Excellency Muhammadu Buhari, President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and through him, to all the Presidents on the Continent, who neither spare any efforts nor resources in supporting football. The sport that unites people, spreads peace, preaches solidarity, and celebration through collective action.
The year 2017 is so particular and symbolic for African Football and the Confederation Africaine de Football, which will be celebrating its 60th anniversary. We would mark the celebration of the anniversary with a peculiar print, coming up on the heels of the CAF Ordinary General Assembly, scheduled for next March.
It is a singular occasion to take stock of what has been done since 8 February 1957, when CAF was formed. From just one competition at the outset, we count about ten (10) today, which are regularly organised, following a well-planned schedule. There were only three (3) competitions when I was elected CAF President.
Moreover, the year 2017 starts a new cycle in the marketing of the commercialisation and media rights of our competitions, with the premiums paid to the participating teams, in some cases multiplied by three or more.
For instance, the winner of the Total Africa Cup of Nations, which kicks off on 14 January in Gabon, will take home 4 million US Dollars compared to the 1.5 Million Dollars for the last four editions.
Distinguished guests, Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen
These considerable and undeniable strides constitute a concretisation of our continuously reaffirmed willingness to work unrelentlessly for the emancipation of the youth of Africa by way of the development football everywhere in Africa
The historic qualification of Guinea-Bissau for the Total AFCON Gabon 2017, for which the President of its federation is here tonight distinguished as Leader of the Year, is a singular reason for satisfaction. For this reassures us that our actions are enabling a veritable upward movement, as nations hitherto considered as minnows are now joining great nations in the spotlight.
All that we have achieved till this point would not have been possible without the support of partners, which we hope to increase in numbers, to meet the numerous expectations. The popular acclamation and good organisation of the last Women's African Cup of Nations in Cameroon is a challenge to us. Particularly, concerning the structuring and sustained expansion of women’s football on our continent.
The new partners which we are inviting to join us, would have to draw inspiration from an example as that of Mike Adenuga, the founder of Globacom, to whom I will forever be grateful for his multi-facetted support to the development of football in Africa.
The sponsoring of the CAF Awards is just one action among many others. But the latter offers a platform for competitiveness where we come to celebrate excellence and the talents of these young men and women who are positively distinguishing themselves by practicing a passion that we commonly share - football.
Long live African football!