In this exclusive chat, the National Chairman of Nigeria Football Supporters Club REV. SAM IKPEA spoke with JOSEPH ODOEKWU of SPORTS INTELLIGENCE MAGAZINE. Ikpea who has a knack for quality Sports development appreciates the transparency calls made by the Sports Minister, he also commented on Samson Siasia’s case with FIFA at the CAS. The Excerpt read
The long awaited 2020 is here, what do you think should be going on now with Nigerian Sports generally?
First let me commend the new Sports Minister Mr. Sunday Dare, he is on the right direction, and I think if he continues in this way, the standard of our sport in 2020 and subsequent years will improve and it is really good for us. More so, our sports will also become a better place for one to invest in and Nigeria will discover lots of hidden talents in area of football, Tennis, Athletics and other sports in Nigeria. Also, the fact that Nigeria’s male and female team will not be at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics will also give us (NFSC) the full responsibility to support other Sports at the Olympics. The truth is every other Sport deserves the support.
What specifically has the Sports Minister done that got your attention?
The Sports Minister has called on all Federations to be transparent and that is good for our sports. One of the problems with our sports federations in Nigeria is that there is no transparency and this is why when someone is in a position, others feel they need to go in there and take over because holding a position in the Nigerian Sports Federation is an opportunity to eat from a national cake, and that is really wrong. We must change our perception if we really want Nigeria Sports to move ahead.
Could you give us an example of such calls made by the Sports Minister?
I can see what is going on with the Nigeria Rugby Football Federation for example. The technical director was unjustly suspended sometime ago and he challenged his suspension at the Sports Ministry. The ministry set up a committee that investigated his suspension and he was recalled, and that led to another issue of Nigerians discovering that there is no transparency in the Rugby Federation. Then, the story of the rented apartment by the Rugby Federation while they are supposed to occupy a designated office inside the national stadium is also everywhere. And from the directive given, I read the Sports Minister has ordered the Rugby Federation to vacate the rented apartment.
“We must change our perception if we really want Nigeria Sports to move ahead”Rev. Sam Ikpea
Still on transparency, the house committee on Sports recently gave the NFF mandate on what should be done to ensure transparency, what do you think about that?
I think it is a very good one, and that is one thing that is actually drawing Nigerian football and other Sports backwards. There is virtually no transparency. As far as I am concerned if we can all go in that direction and let, it will go down well for all our sports in Nigeria. The truth is Football is like our national sport, once we get it right with football, every other Sport Federation in Nigeria will go in that same direction too.
Let’s talk about Nigeria’s Samson Siasia, who is having a case with FIFA at the CAS, what do you say about that ?
At this particular time we must rally round him. He is our own, you do not throw away the baby with the dirty water, he should be given the opportunity to go and defend himself. Apart from that, we should not forget that this man’s life in question is tied around football. Football is his life, and if he has been banned from participating in football for his life time how do you want him to survive. There are two things that can come out of his appeal; it is either his appeal is considered and his ban lifted or there may be a reconsideration to have the ban run for a certain period of time. So I think Nigeria should rise up to support Samson Siasia. This kind of thing can lead to death, and one problem with Nigeria is that we celebrate death of a person more rather than when the person is living. They don’t come out to give support; they don’t come out to encourage you. But when you go out there on your own and achieve success by winning laurels, everybody wants to come and associate with you, because you are now successful. But when you were struggling to pursue that goal, no one wants to, but now that he is facing this alone I think we should support him.
Do you think the government as an institution should come in and do something for Siasia?
I don’t really think the government can come in. It is a business of Football stakeholders in Nigeria, not necessarily the government. However, the government can come in through their FA’s at the various state levels.
How about Samson Siasia’s state of origin Bayelsa?
Like I said earlier, Bayelsa state can give their support through their FA. But it is very important they also come in, Remember there is a stadium in Nigeria today named after Samson Siasia and that stadium is in his hometown in Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. I am sure it is the glory he brought his state that led to the government naming the stadium after him. And the truth is when Siasia won medals for Nigeria, the glory does not only go to Nigeria as a nation, but it also goes to Bayelsa state and I think there is need for them to come in at this point.
Your final advise to all
If we must move Nigerian Sports forward, there is need for all our federations to be transparent in what they do.
Okay, thank you very much sir for making out time to talk with us
Thank you too.