A five-man panel to finally and fully restore peace to the rank of Nigeria’s retired and active football players was on Monday inaugurated in Abuja, with President of Nigeria Football Federation, Alhaji Ibrahim Musa Gusau imploring the members to work assiduously towards erasing all forms of misgivings among the game’s major actors and allow Nigeria Football to move forward in peace and tranquility.
Gusau told the panelists that their mandate, which would last for two months, is to discuss with the two players’ bodies currently operating and settle the differences, while also advising the NFF on how to forge a formidable union that will be acceptable to all retired and active players.
“I have confidence in this team to put to rest the discord and bickering that we have witnessed among players’ bodies over the past years. There has been an unhealthy proliferation and this is not in the interest of peace and development of the game. We want to put a permanent end to the bitterness and divisive tendencies, so that we can move forward.
“Last week, I sat down with leaders of the two groups and we deliberated on how to achieve reconciliation and peace. What is really important is recognition, celebration and inclusiveness. We don’t want to alienate anyone. Players are the key actors in the game and we have no reason not to carry them along.”
The Deputy Governor of Edo State, Comrade Philip Shaibu is the chairman of the committee, with Mr. Emmanuel Okala, MON, Dr. Felix Owolabi Akinloye, MON and Mr. Garba Lawal as members, and Mr. Abdulrafiu Yusuf as secretary.
Okala, who was part of the gold-winning Green Eagles squad at the 1973 All-Africa Games that Nigeria hosted, was part of the silver-winning Green Eagles at the 1978 All-Africa Games and was in the 1980 Africa Cup of Nations-winning team, was present at the inauguration at the NFF Secretariat, alongside Dr. Owolabi Akinloye, who was part of the 1978 All-Africa Games silver-winning squad and the 1980 AFCON winners, and Abdulrafiu Yusuf, assistant director in the NFF Technical Department.
NFF General Secretary, Dr Mohammed Sanusi, lauded the membership of the panel, and expressed confidence that they would be able to resolve the logjam in the terrain of the players’ unions. He thanked them for their noble contributions to Nigeria in the past and said he has no doubt they will still contribute more by enabling peace in the Nigeria game soonest.
“Morocco has done exceedingly well for Africa at the ongoing FIFA World Cup finals in Qatar. Nigeria is capable of doing likewise and even better if we have a peaceful atmosphere in which all stakeholders work towards a common, noble goal,” Sanusi said.
Responding on behalf of the committee, His Excellency, Comrade Philip Shaibu said the panel will work with boundless energy and sincerity of purpose to ensure seamless reconciliation of the unions, and come up with an acceptable solution. He reiterated that the principal interest of the committee is to see Nigeria Football attain higher heights, and that recognition and appreciation of the game’s actors cannot be discounted.
Also present at the occasion were NFF Deputy General Secretary, Dr. Emmanuel Ikpeme; Director of Finance and Administration, Mr. E. C. Kadiri; Director of Technical, Mr. Augustine Eguavoen and; Director of Communications, Mr. Ademola Olajire.