Since the Nigerian football teams started representing Nigeria in football tournaments, the Supporters Club have consistently played significant role in such a manner that gives strength and life to the teams.They are never tired of supporting the teams with their trumpets, drums and voices even in time of defeat.
The role of the Nigeria Supporters Club in promoting football became so organized, consistent and admirable such that the World Governing Football Body FIFA, gave the club “The Best Behaved Supporters Club” in the 1994 World Cup. For a nation making her debut at the FIFA World Cup and her Supporters are adjudged to be the best behaved, so much credit need to be given to them. At the Confederation level, CAF have given the Nigerian Football Supporters Club several awards, appreciating the good spirit of sportsmanship which they have shown in discharge of their duties.
In appreciating the good job which the Supporters club have been doing to the nation, former President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo in 2013 charged Dr. Rafiu Ladipo to replicate what he has done to football with the Supporters Club to other Sports in Nigeria.
This was probably a big task, but it was doable and in trying to achieve this, the need to create the Nigeria Football and Others Sports Supporters Club came into existence. This did not in any way suffice for the Nigeria Football Supporters Club which already was in existence, neither did it also mean there was a division, the structure still remained but with the main aim of giving other Sports the needed Support.
Despite all the accomplishments made by the Supporters Club, the NFSC were also faced with some internal issues like every other group would do. In an exclusive interview with the President-General Dr. Rafiu Ladipo titled “An African Country Will Host The Commonwealth Games in The Future”. Ladipo who also spoke about the issues faced by the Club said: “there was a move by a few elements in sport to hijack the running and the organization of the Supporters Club, but thank God I was able to go to the house of representatives and presented 21 objections and that is now a thing of the past” (Sport Intelligence 2018, page 9) .
Apparently, some certain individuals were interested in hijacking the club, and that gave room for divisions. But in all cases, both the President-General Dr Rafiu Ladipo and National Chairman Rev. Sam Ikpea had always maintained that there was no division in the Supporters Club.
However, on the 21st day of October, 2018 Rev. Samuel Ikpea granted an interview which was published in Vanguard Newspaper titled Ikpea reaffairms no faction in Nigeria Football Supporters Club. In that publication, paragraph two of that story reads:
“Ikpea told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Sunday in Lagos that some members who violated the laid down rules of NFSC and were shown the way out, decided to form their own supporters club”.
Further explanations in the said story tells of how the then Sports Minister Barr. Solomon Dalung tried to bring the Nigeria Football Supporters Club (NFSC) and the Nigeria Eagles Supporters Club together, after he observed that there were two stands in one of our matches at home which caused some distractions.
The above apparently suggests that there was a clear case of rebellion in the Nigeria Football Supporters Club, leading to a group exiting with the intention of forming another club.
In the course of our investigations, Sports Intelligence discovered that there was a clear case of litigation, after a group led by Prince Vincent Okumagba and two others (Abayomi Ogunjimi and Oluwakemi Popoola) dragged the National Chairman Rev. Sam Ikpea, and another two (Dr. Donatus Utoh and Chief Seyi Adefarati) to a Federal High Court in Lagos with Suit No: FHC/L/CS/1732/2016 before Hon. Justice R.M Aikawa Judge.
They prayed the court to declare null and void the election that took place on December 10, 2016 at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere Lagos, which brought in Rev. Sam Ikpea as National Chairman of NFSC. As they also asked the court to declare Prince Vincent Okumagba the National Chairman of the Nigeria Football Supporters Club.
There case against the substantive National Chairman Rev. Sam. Ikpea and two others suffered a heavy blow, as they included the Incorporated Trustees of the Nigeria Football Supporters Club as the first Applicant in their suit, indicting Dr. Rafiu Ladipo as one fighting against a structure he practically created.
However, Dr. Rafiu Ladipo who happens to be the Chairman of the Board of Trustees was not just embarrassed with the actions of these persons, but he was also disappointed by their show of disinforming the court with the intention to getting favourable judgment.
The Board of Trustees of the Nigeria Football Supporters Club of Nigeria met swiftly to discuss the matter. And on Tuesday, 30 May 2017, issued an official disclaimer which was published on page 35 of the DailySun Newspaper. The disclaimer was signed by Dr. Rafiu Ladipo who is Chairman of the board, alongside Elder Isaac Ukpebor who is Chairman Elder’s Council and also the longest serving member of the Supporters Club in Nigeria.
The disclaimer notice warned the general public on the dangers of associating with Mr. Vincent Okumagba, who has been parading himself as the Chairman of the Nigeria Football Supporters Club (NFSC). It further stated that he (Vincent Okumagba) is no longer a member of the Club.
Since these whole case went in that direction, more drama have ensued. The trio of Mr. Vincent Okumagba, Mr. Abayomi Ogunjimi and Oluwakemi Popoola who were plaintiffs in the suit against Rev Sam Ikpea and others started a new club named the Nigeria Eagles Supporters Club (NEGSC).
Barely Six months after the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup, the Nollywood drama continued, with Vincent Okumagba starting the Super Eagles Supporters Club (SESC), Abayomi Ogunjimi started the Authentic Nigeria Football Supporters Club (ANFSC), while Oluwakemi Popoola settled for Football Fans Supporters Club (FFSC). Unfortunately, the trio who gathered to fight a course could not stay together.
While the rights and freedom of association of these whole groups is highly respected, the image of the country as a whole is at stake. The embassies in Nigeria, International Communities and the teams are waiting to be properly guided.
The Sports Minister Mr. Sunday Dare who may not have the right to infringe on the rights of the these groups, must also look at the image of the nation and address these issues holistically, so we do not experience a situation where several groups will keep creating parallel structures for a single team representing Nigeria at a given time.
Get real time Updates about related articles. Subscribe now