One day to The Sun World Cup seminar holding in Port Harcourt, Rivers State capital, top government officials, sports personalities and stakeholders have confirmed their participation.
The seminar, with theme: “That Super Eagles may excel in Russia 2018 and Beyond,” is being 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 the seminar.
Former Super Eagles coach and first black African to handle a team at the World Cup, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde, will deliver the lead paper, “Super Eagles: Towards a Successful Russia 2018 Campaign.” Former Director General of the National Broadcasting Corporation (NBC), Mallam Danladi Bako, will deliver the second paper, “Galvanising Support for the Super Eagles: The Role of Government, Media and Other Stakeholders,” while ex-director general of the National Sports Commission (NSC), Dr. Pat Ekeji, former chief coach of the Golden Eaglets, Mr. Fanny Amun; and chairman of Abia Warriors FC, Chief Emeke Inyama, will serve as discussants.
Rivers State governor, Chief Nyesom Wike; Minister of Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung and President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Mr. Amaju Pinnick, are among top government officials who have confirmed their attendance at the event.
Also expected at the seminar are ex-internationals/former Super Eagles players, coaches, club owners and managers as well as commissioners of sports from various states.
Expressing his delight at the seminar, Dr. Ekeji said the choice of Chief Onigbinde and Mallam Bako as speakers was great as, according to him, “Baba Onigbinde is a man that has seen it all in our football. Danladi Bako is a veteran broadcaster that has been involved with football for over three decades. I think we are in for a good event.”
Also speaking on the seminar, a member of the 2002 World Cup national team, Julius Aghahowa, applauded The Sun for organising the event, saying results of the previous Nigerian appearances could have been better if brainstorming seminars like the one being organised by The Sun had taken place.
Aghahowa remarked: “I’m not surprised this is coming from the stable of The Sun. It’s a laudable idea, which all well-meaning and football loving Nigerians should support.
“I also hope other corporate bodies could emulate the newspaper outfit and provide the team with all the supports they needed to soar at the World Cup. So I commend the organisers of the seminar.”
Football administrator, Chief Inyama, praised The Sun for organising the seminar, adding that the events would help in the advancement of the Nigerian football team for better performance next month at the World Cup and even beyond.
Said he: “The Sun has won my heart. I have no excuse not to be in Port Harcourt for the seminar.”
Mallam Bako expressed deep appreciation for the gesture of The Sun in organising the seminar. He said: “The seminar is very timely and a bold attempt at galvanising public support and awareness for Super Eagles.
“More importantly, the effort is a brainchild of one of Nigeria’s most widely read newspapers.”
National Chairman of Nigeria Football Supporters’ Club, Reverend Samuel Ikpea, said The Sun World Cup seminar was coming at the right time.
He pledged the support of the supporters club, declaring: “On behalf of myself and the members of the NFSC, we want to thank The Sun Publishing Limited for this wonderful initiative. We believe also that it would definitely point the ways forward for our football.
“We also want to assure the organisers of our unalloyed support at all times, as partners in the progress of Nigerian football.”
The governor said Rivers State government’s interest in supporting the Eagles explains its acceptance to host the national team’s final match before travelling to Russian in Port Harcourt.
In endorsing the seminar, the Federal Ministry of Sports, in a letter by Nansel Nimyel, on behalf of the Minister of Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalong, 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 23rd March 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.”
Speaking on the seminar, The Sun MD, Osagie, 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.”