It’s not always usual to have Nigerians under one umbrella gathered in a place, at the same time. It’s either division on political, religion or ethnic inclination that always make it practically impossible to have Nigerians of diverse cultural background come together to submit on general consensus.
But one man, Nyesom Wike, the Governor of Rivers State, using the power of sports, the rallying appeal of football that made that possible on Tuesday May 22, 2018 in Port Harcourt, even at this critical times, when the political gladiators are warming up for the 2019 elections onslaught.
Nigerians from all walks of life stormed the Presidential Hotel for the Russia 2018 World Cup seminar organized by The Sun newspapers and hosted by the Rivers State Government in what could be termed the congregation of Nigeria’s ethno-cultural diversity.
From the Rivers State high-powered delegation, which included the governor, His Excellency, Nyesom Wike, his deputy, the Speaker of the Rivers State House of Assembly, top government functionaries, first class traditional rulers, all the local government chairmen and sports stakeholders from across the country, all honoured the first seminar organised to galvanise support for Super Eagles’ participation at the Russia 2018 World Cup.
Expectedly, the Minister of Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalung, who was represented by a Director, Mrs. Esther Aluko; the NFF President, Amaju Pinnick; former director general of the Sports Ministry, Dr. Patrick Ekeji; the first black African coach to lead a team to the World Cup, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde; former Golden Eaglets coach, Fanny Amun; former director general of the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mallam Danladi Bako all graced the occasion.
The Managing Director of The Sun Publishing, Mr. Eric Osagie, while welcoming the guests said The Sun decided to organise the World Cup seminar not only to galvanise support for the Super Eagles, but to create the belief and confidence that the Super Eagles could win the World Cup in Russia.
“We believe sports is passion, it’s life and big business. In the brotherhood of sports, Nigerians are united; everybody understands the language of soccer. The Sun organised the seminar to galvanise the Super Eagles towards Russia 2018 World Cup, to win. We believe, ‘Yes we can’”, he said.
The Sun MD expressed appreciation to the Rivers State Government for hosting the seminar, adding that Rivers State has become the hub of hosting major sports events because the governor loves and supports sports. The objective for organizing the seminar, according to Osagie is to return Nigeria to glorious days of 1994 era.
NFF President, Amaju while thanking The Sun for the initiative, applauds the Rivers State Government for the bold step in hosting the first seminar in support of the Super Eagles.
Amaju said he’s amazed at Nigerians pessimism that the Super Eagles can’t win the World Cup.
He assured that the players had been totally motivated and are comfortable to make Nigeria proud in Russia.
Delivering a paper titled “That the Super Eagles may excel in Russia”, Chief Onigbinde said the players need psychological, intellectual, medical, physiological, technical and tactical fitness and backed with adequate support from the federation to win the World Cup.
To Mallam Bako, in his paper, “Galvanising support for the Super Eagles, the role of media, government and the private sector”, the players must have unity of purpose; have the can win spirit, while the government provides the encouragement by relating directly with the team. He enjoined the private sector to identify more with the NFF to reduce dependence on government.
Mallam Bako applauded the Amaju-led NFF for the robust relationship with the sports ministry, which has reduced the incessant squabbles between them.
Rivers State opened the way for Eagles –Dalung
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung said the Rivers State Governor, Nyesom Wike opened the way for the Super Eagles to participate at the Russia 2018 World Cup.
He stated that the ministry is not in doubt on the ability of the team to make the country proud at the Mundial.
“Governor Wike opened the way for Eagles to Russia. The journey started in Port Harcourt. As for the Super Eagles, we have world-class stars and talents. I’m optimistic because the team prepared well and are motivated”.
SWAN ’ll support Eagles all the way –SWAN president
The President of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Honour Sirawoo said his body will support the Super Eagles all through the World Cup in Russia and urged Nigerians to stand by the team.
Eagles have advantage –Onigbinde
The lead resource person, Chief Adegboye Onigbinde said the Super Eagles have an advantage having been together for two years. He said: “I’m expecting the cup in Nigeria”.
However, he stressed that certain things needed for victory. The former Super Eagles coach enumerated the ingredients as fitness, finance, facilities and equipment.
On fitness, he said they include Psychological fitness, intellectual fitness, medical fitness, physiological fitness, technical fitness and tactical fitness.
Government must show political will –Bako
The former director general of the Nigeria Broadcasting Commission (NBC), Mallam Danladi Bako said government would need to show more political will.
He stressed that the president needs to come to the stadium to cheer the national team, to talk to the players before crucial matches.
He also underlined the importance of bonding, which he posits aids performance. “Some inspirational songs that the supporters club usually sing while the national team plays help a team to stick together. Again, the ‘Oyinbo wall’ by this I means our ‘foreign’ defenders must not feel alien because it could affect their psychology.
“Sports journalists must not be fronting for some players, they should not play the role of players’ agents and give coaches should be given free hand to pick their players.