2011: SPORTS ADMINISTRATORS FORM CAMPAIGN GROUP FOR JONATHAN
The campaign for President Goodluck Jonathan to contest the next presidential election received a boost at the weekend as past and present sports administrators met to spearhead the campaign.
At the launch of Nigerian Sports Ambassadors Forum in Abuja, the group said they were joining forces with patriotic Nigerians to call on the president to run in the 2011 presidential election and to checkmate moves by desperate politicians to use sports to deceive Nigerians.
Even though Jonathan was yet to declare interest, the sports administrators, past and present, said they offered to spearhead the campaign for the president to contest the election, as moves had been initiated to infiltrate their camp.
Leading the pack at the meeting held at the NICON Luxury Hotel were former sports ministers, Mr Sani Ndanusa, Bala Kaoje and Damishi Sango, sports administrators, such as Dr Amos Adamu, Chief Segun Odegbami, Mrs Mary Onyali, Rotimi Taylor and President of the Youths Sports Federation of Nigeria, Alhaji Jamiu Tunde Ojulari.
Included were past and present members of the House of Representatives, Mr Lumumba Dah Adeh, Mr Abas Braimah and Mr Gbenga Elegbeleye, as well as some veteran journalists. Other members of the group are the President of Traditional Sports Federation of Nigeria, Muhammed Baba, President of Nigerian Athletics Federation of Nigeria, Solomon Ogba, President of Wrestling Federation, Chief Austine Edeze, President of Supporters Club, Alhaji Yusuf Dauda and Dr Rafiu Ladipo.
One of the conveners of the meeting, Mr Gbenga Elegbeleye, who is the deputy chairman of House of Representatives Committee on Sports confirmed the intent of the group and the plan to mobilise Nigerians to persuad the president to contest the 2011 presidential election. By supporting Jonathan, he stated that the group believed that it would halt the dwindling fortunes of sports in Nigeria, given the president's favourable disposition to sports development in the country.
According to him, the action taken by the president to rescind banning the senior national team, the Super Eagles, from international soccer competition was a veritable proof of his desire to revive the sports.
Members of the group were of the view that Jonathan had demonstrated sufficient interest in sports, most especially football, as reference was made to the trip he made to South Africa to drum support for the Super Eagles in their campaign for the 2010 World Cup.
He said most members believed that it would be easy to get Nigerians to support the present government, since most of them have very strong passion for sports, in particular, football. The decision to build mini-sports complex across the states of the federation as a means of engaging the youths with sporting activities, he observe, would make the youths of Nigeria embrace the aspiration of the president to contest the 2011 presidential election.
Already, Mr Elegbeleye said the Nigerian Sports Ambassadors' Forum had mapped out strategies to attract the support of sports lovers for Jonathan, including organisation of sporting programmes to be used in campaigning for the president, mobilisation for Jonathan in the diaspora, and designing of websites for prompt interaction with members and all aides of President Jonathan.