By Jonathan Ugbal And Godwin Otang
The Nigerian Honorable Minister for Sports Development Senator John Owan-Enoh; the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) and the Super Eagles of Nigeria have been charged to win the 2024 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) and make Nigerians happy again.
The charge was given by the Catholic Bishop of Ogoja Diocese, Cross River State, Bishop Donatus Edet Akpan in Ikom, at the Thanksgiving mass of the Minister over his appointment into the cabinet of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
Nigeria will begin their quest for a fourth AFCON title in a Group A game against Equatorial Guinea on 14 January.
The West Africans will also face hosts Ivory Coast and Guinea-Bissau in the group stage.
“I want to see what will happen in your tenure, AFCON is coming. I hope you have put everything in place. Other ministers of sports failed and it didn’t mean anything to us, if you fail, it would mean a lot to us. So buckle up. Nigerians want to be happy in the forthcoming contest,” the clergy said.
He charged the Minister to develop sports in all parts of the State and also his hometown, Ikom.
“Make the facilities available. Not only in Abuja, let the states show interest in sports so that the young people would have something to preoccupy their minds. Not only the young people, but even the older people. When sports, particularly football, are played well, in the country both the young and the old wake up. But for some time now that joy from football and other sports has been eluding us. Those who have been appointed to take charge, don’t sit on top of the situation as the policemen would say.”
He co continued: “They are on top of the situation but we do not see any results. Try to be on top of the situation so that sports would be revived, football in Nigeria would be what it used to be, that when Nigeria is playing people would be attentive, they leave what they would have done to enjoy the game because they know Nigerian youths would make them proud. If they fail, you’re failing, and I don’t want you to fail,” the Rev. Father prayed.
In his response, Owan-Enoh promised to leave the Ministry better than he had met it. He said he will be in Abuja after Thanksgiving to encourage the Senior National Team ahead of the AFCON competition.
His words: “I can assure you that I approach this job with passion and commitment. By the grace of God, we would not leave this sector the way we met it. We commit to bringing joy and happiness to Nigerian homes. When we win there’s happiness spread across the land.”
He re-emphasizes the commitment of the current administration in the area of sports, he said: “So Bishop, I have heard of your challenge, people have said I have Nigeria’s toughest job as Minister of Sports Development. It is a sector that deals with emotions and sentiments. It’s a sector in which outcomes are immediately measurable.”