By Onochie Anibeze
Felix Anyansi Agwu made a remark on stage at the AIT/MTN Footballer of the Year Awards. It turned out to be a major issue on the occasion that was graced by many big shots in Nigerian football.
The able chairman of Enyimba climbed the rostrum to receive Jomaâ€™s award as the Best Club Sponsor of the year. The Italian sports wear manufacturing company kits Enyimba, the only Nigerian club to have won Africaâ€™s Champions League.
Agwu commended the foreign company and decried the lack of corporate sponsorship in Nigerian football, saying that the award to Joma should be a wake-up call for sponsorship culture in Nigeria. And while receiving another award on behalf of The Enyimba Supportersâ€™ Club, Agwu condemned what happened during the Nigeria-Mozambique match when fans booed Eagles right from the beginning of the match and only celebrated the stoppage time goal.
Even Nigeriaâ€™s national anthem was booed. Fans were expressing their anger over the 2-2 draw with Tunisia. Agwu said that great supporters back their teams in good and bad times and those who come to watch the Eagles should emulate the spirit of Enyimba Supportersâ€™ club. They emerged the best in the country.
Governor Romtimi Amechi, who attended with his wife, during his speech, commended the remarks of Agwuâ€™s on the need for resilient support for teams, citing his unflinching support for Arsenal as an example. â€œIâ€™m an Arsenal fan for life,â€ the governor of Rivers said told the audience.
The Arsenal fans around applauded and the governor appeared happy. He thought he impressed all. But when chairman of the Premier League Oyuiki Obaseiki climbed the stage to receive his award as the best football administrator of the year, he made Amechi almost look small. â€œIf English people do not support their clubs massively, they would not be where they are today. We should support our clubs so that they can get to where the foreign clubs have attained. Your Excellency, you should be supporting Sharks of Porthacourt. Sharks should be your club.â€ Obaseiki was applauded and Rotimi nodded.
The governor made great points in his speech when he wondered why there was no award for youth football development, arguing that such an award could help youth development and curb age falsification in age grade programmes.
â€œI expected an award for the youth team of the year or school football team of the year,â€ Amechi said among other things that also impressed.
Osaze Odewengie was named Nigeriaâ€™s Footballer Of The Year while Precious Dede was crowned the queen of Nigeriaâ€™s football.
Renowned sports journalist, Paul Bassey, led the team of other strong hands in Nigerian sports who worked as panelists on the awards many have commended as a great innovation.
â€œWe are honoured by the presence of many greats in these awards and we hope to get better,â€ Aisha Falode of AIT said.
Governor Amechi received the flag as the next host of the awards.