The first black African to handle a team at the World Cup and ex-Super Eagles coach, Chief Adegboye Oniginde as well as one of the best sports technocrats to come out of Nigeria, Dr. Patrick Ekeji, are among sports icons lined up to speak at The Sun World Cup seminar holding in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital on Tuesday, May 22, 2018.
The seminar, with theme: “That Super Eagles may excel in Russia 2018 and Beyond,” will be hosted by the Rivers State Government at the Hotel Presidential, Port Harcourt.
The Federal Ministry of Sports and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) have endorsed it.
Minister of Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung and President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Mr. Amaju Pinnick, will also speak at the event organised by The Sun to mobilise support for the national team as it goes for honours in Russia next month.
Others selected to speak at the seminar include Mallam Danladi Bako, former Director-General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) and the originator of ‘Morning Ride’ as well as “Master Sports” on NTA2; former chief coach of the Golden Eaglets, Mr. Fanny Amun and ex-Super Eagles captain, Segun Odegbami.
Others who will serve as discussants at the epoch-making seminar are supersonic football manager, Chief Emeka Inyama and irrepressible sports marketer and Chief Executive of Hotspots, Mr. Taye Ige.
According to organisers of the seminar, Chief Onigbinde would speak on the topic, “Super Eagles: Towards a successful Russia 2018 campaign,” while Bako will talk about “Galvanising support for the Super Eagles: The role of government, media and other stakeholders.” Ekeji, Coach Amun, Odegbami, Inyama and Ige will discuss the topics and unveil different perspectives therein.
Onigbinde is a man of history and easily the doyen of Nigerian coaches. He entered the record book of the 88-year-old World Cup competition as the first black coach at the World Cup, having led Nigeria to face Argentina on June 2, 2002 in Ibaraki at Italia 1990. Although before him there had been Abdelmajid Chetali of Tunisia in 1978 and Egypt’s El Gohary in 1990, Onigbinde still maintains a place in the global football history as the first black African to feature as coach at the World Cup.
Onigbinde shot into national prominence in February 1983, when he was appointed as replacement to ex-Nigerian national coach, Otto Gloria, a Brazilian professor. He later became a technical adviser to Trinidad and Tobago, CAF and FIFA instructor on coaching.
Ekeji has been involved in all facets of sports, especially football in the country. He was a footballer for clubs and national team, having played for both the Vasco da Gama FC and Enugu Rangers as well as the national team, the Green Eagles, with which he made a winning debut on July 13, 1975 in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Congo in Brazzaville. He was also a coach for both clubs and the national team.
Ten years after his Green Eagles debut in Brazzaville, he mounted the saddle as the national team coach in 1985. Before handling the Green Eagles, he had coached ACB of Lagos, where Henry Nwosu was one of his star players.
A graduate of Physical and Health Education from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Ekeji later became a lecturer at the Nigeria Institute of Sports, teaching football as a discipline and helping to breed another generation of coaches.
He administered sports at the state level in Imo State before coming to the national level, where he rose through the ranks heading various departments – Research and Documentation, Facilities, etc. – before getting to the zenith as Director General.
The novel idea in creating Team Nigeria is one indelible mark Ekeji made on Nigerian sports. During his tenure as the director of sports, Nigeria topped the medals’ table at the All Africa Games after previous seven attempts.
Bako, Kogunan Sakwatto, is a broadcasting prodigy, whose voice, at 16, dominated then Rima Radio, Sokoto, where he presented news and different programmes, in both Hausa and English languages.
He studied at the Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria, where he graduated in 1978. He also obtained a master’s degree in Mass Communication from the University of Lagos.
From NTA Sokoto, where he won the Best Producer/Presenter award and Best Overall Staff award, Bako was transferred to the NTA headquarters in 1983. It was at the national headquarters that he developed the Morning Ride, which could pass for Nigeria’s first live TV talk show in 1988.
In 1999, Bako was appointed Director General of the NBC, where he served meritoriously before resigning three years later. He had served also as Commissioner of Information, Sokoto State, Board member, Cross River Basin Development Authority 2004-2008 and Governing Council member, Abubakar Tafawa Balewa University, Bauchi.
Chief Inyama, chairman of the Abia Warriors Football Club and ex-member of the NFF Board, rose from sports journalism to a consummate soccer administrator.
He made a feat with the Enyimba Football Club of Aba, which he, as manager, took to make history as the first Nigerian team to win the African Champions Cup. Enyimba, under his administration, won the cup back-to-back after the initial victory.
Inyama was Commissioner for Sports in Abia State.
Odegbami won 46 caps and scored 23 goals playing for the national team. He was part of the success story of the national team’s first Africa Cup of Nations title at the 1980.
Nicknamed Mathematical Odegbami, this former player is known for his dribbling skill, speed and precision of his crosses from the right wing. He remains one of the finest and greatest footballers that have ever represented Nigeria and Africa.
A graduate of The Polytechnic, Ibadan, where he studied Engineering, he played for the IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan throughout his football career, from 1970 to 1984. After retirement as a player, he tried his hands as sport journalist and commentator.
Giving insight on the choice of speakers and discussants, Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief, The Sun Publishing Limited, Mr. Eric Osagie, said the company went for the best hands in sports administration due to the importance it attaches to the seminar.
He said The Sun, in its characteristic way of ensuring excellence, selected speakers and discussants who have been involved in football, either as footballer or administrators and who understand the dynamics of the game.
Osagie said: “It is our wish to see the national team perform better, hence the theme of the seminar is ‘That Super Eagles may excel in Russia and beyond’ and our choice of speakers and discussants, who will chart a great course for the team to make impact in Russia.”
He said handlers of the Supers Eagles, the players and football administrators stand to learn much from the seminar, which is coming before the national team’s departure to Russia.
“We are mobilising support for the Super Eagles. We want, through this seminar, to help the team handers learn some insights from coaches and football managers, which they will add to their rich knowledge. This will help the team in Russia and the nation’s football in future,” Osagie said.
The Sun MD said the event was the company’s “modest way of supporting the efforts to mobilise Nigerians for the soccer event.”
According to him, the World Cup, in particular and football generally, are serious businesses, which require the input of everybody and therefore all hands must be on deck to support the national team.
Said Osagie: “The World Cup is a serious business. From the day the football competition starts, the global attention will be on Russia. We want Nigeria not to be just a participant but one that would make serious impact at the competition, hence we are organising this conference.
“With the endorsement of the Federal Ministry of Sports and the NFF, and the fact that Rivers State government has graciously agreed to host the conference, we have been gingered to make it worth the while.”
Rivers State Governor, Chief Nyesom Wike, said his government is hosting the seminar because it would do anything to support football, the Super Eagles and sports in general, in the country.
“We are committed to supporting football and sports as a whole in the country. We are committed to supporting the Super Eagles in its campaign to Russia. We want the national team to come out victorious at the FIFA World Cup. This is why we are interested in this seminar organised by a reputable newspaper for the benefit of Nigeria,” Wike said.
In endorsing The Sun World Cup seminar, the Federal Ministry of Sports, in a letter by Nansel Nimyel, on behalf of the Minister of Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung, to the Managing Director/Editor-in-Chief of The Sun Publishing Limited, Mr. Eric Osagie, said: “I write to acknowledge receipt of your letter on the above subject dated 23rdMarch 2018, in which you are proposing to host a conference to further drum up support for the National Football Team, the Super Eagles, towards their successful participation at Russia 2018 World Cup competition.
“I am further directed to convey to you the Honourable Minister’s approval and endorsement of the said proposal.
“While looking forward to working with your organisation towards a successful outing by the Super Eagles at Russia 2018, please accept the renewed assurances of the Honourable Minister’s esteemed regards.”
The NFF, in its letter by Dr. Mohammed Sanusi, General Secretary, said: “We heartily present to you very warm sporting regards of the President, Executive Committee members and Management of the Nigeria Football Federation.
“We are pleased to inform you that the NFF has decided to endorse the conference and also afford your organisation strategic partnership for the conference designed to awaken the nation’s consciousness and create the enabling environment for Super Eagles to excel at the FIFA World Cup finals.
“The NFF is enamoured by the conception of the forum as an all-inclusive one to facilitate exchange of information and ideas by all the stakeholders as well as chart the course for the Super Eagles to soar in Russia.”