*As Danagogo backs new efforts

BY ONOCHIE ANIBEZE in Warri

The Minister of Sports and Chairman of the National Sports Commission, Dr Tammy Danagogo has thrown his full weight behind the Nigeria Football Federation Congress when he appealed to stake holders not to allow detractors truncate the steady growth of the sport in Nigeria.

Speaking at the NFF General Congress in Warri yesterday, the Minister who was represented by a director in the ministry, Dr Bolaji Ojo-Oba said football was Nigeria’s biggest product and all hands must be on deck in selling the product he described as “symbol of unity in Nigeria.”

The Minister has been variously accused of fueling the current crisis in the nation’s football house, but the delivery by Ojo-Oba in Warri yesterday marked a direct opposition as his gestures and mannerisms clearly portrayed.

“If The Republic of Benin, Togo or Seychelles with a population of 170,000 can get it right, why can’t Nigeria of 170 million people?” Danagogo asked, rhetorically, amidst applause from the packed hall.

“If all sports federations are under the ministry, then football is certainly one of them. And if football is our baby, then it is our responsibility to ensure the baby grows,” the minister said.

Alhassan Yakmut represented the DG, National Sports Commission, Hon. Tunde Elegbeleye

From all ramifications, it was a successful congress as delegates from all the states, the Nigeria Referees Association, the Nationwide League, the Women’s League and Coaches Association were present at the  Brownhill Events Centre  in Warri, venue of the Congress.

NFF President, Aminu Maigari presided over what has been described as one of the best congresses of the federation in recent history.

There were speeches by various delegates, prominent among whom were Imo State FA Chairman and member of CAF Ethics Committee, Amanze Uchegbulam called for unity among members of the football fraternity. “We must remain united, no matter what happens, not even the outcome of the forthcoming elections should divide us,” Uchegbulam, who is also gunning for the NFF Presidency said. He told delegates that government cannot be extricated from football and its role “should be seen as collaboration and not as interference.”

Taiwo Ogunjobi, a former Secretary General who is also standing for elections as Maigari’s replacement spoke in the same vein. The aspirants for the NFF hot seat who were at the Congress include Shehu Dikko, Dominic Irofa, Amanze Uchegbulam, Taiwo Ogunjobi, Mike Umeh and Amaju Pinnick.

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