Nigeria’s sports minister Sunday Dare has extended the ministry’s welfare program to more struggling former ex-internationals and families of deceased athletes who represented the country in the past.
Dare said the measures are part of the ministry’s “deliberate and conscious efforts” to ensure that athletes who sacrificed for the country are treated with dignity and not abandoned when they most need support.
“There is a need for us to make deliberate and conscious efforts to take care of living and ailing ex-internationals while not forgetting the families of the deceased,” Dare said in a statement.
“The efforts of our heroes past will never be in vain as we will try to continue to give our support to them (their families), even as the welfare of athletes remains our priority.”
The move to reach out to more athletes builds on the cash and gift support to the mothers of the late Rashidi Yekini, Sam Okwaraji, Sunday Bada and most recently the mother of late Flying Eagles Captain Alijeje Ibrahim. The Minister also sent financial assistance to former Nigerian Defender Sunday Eboigbe who has been battling with an ailment for years.
The ministry of sports says a comprehensive list of living and deceased ex-internationals who require various forms of aid is being compiled.
They include the late Sam Garba Okoye who played for the Nigerian Academicals that defeated Ghana home and away for the first time, in 1965. That same year, Sam debuted for the Green Eagles in the 4-1 defeat of Gabon in Libreville. He died in a car crash on July 31, 1979, on the Lafia-Akwanga road.
Kingsley Aikhionbare and Osaro Obabaifo who both hailed from Edo will also be included. Kingsley Aikhionbare was part of the 1985 Golden Eaglets while Osaro Obabaifo was a member of the 1985 Flying Eagles.
The late Godwin Eke and Uche Ikeogu who were also part of the bronze-winning 1985 Flying Eagles will also make the list. Eke also played for the Eagles. Ikeogu died in the 1994 Oriental Airlines crash in Algeria, playing for Iwuanyanwu. Both footballers hailed from Imo State.
The families of late Otenkwa Dele Udo and Benjamin Okorogu will also be visited. Udo, a quarter-miler was shot at Ojuelegba by a Mobile Police Officer while Okorogu died in the Flying Eagles camp.
Inua Rigogo played in the 60s and 70s. His teammates include POC Achebe, Fabian Duru, Sule Kekere. Abdul Aminu was a member of the Algiers 90 squad. He played for Elkanemi. Sheffiu Mohammed was a member of the 1980 Green Eagles. He Played for Raccah Rovers alongside Kadiri Ikhana who is presently undergoing treatment too.
The family of the late legendary Mudashiru Lawal who was part of the Green Eagles in the 80s will also be visited while not forgetting the family of late Herbert Anijekwu who was part of the Super Eagles team who won Silver at the 1990 African Cup of Nations but died in 2013.