by Juliana Taiwo
Abuja — President Umaru Musa Yar'Adua, has said it will be a great tragedy if Nigeria fails to qualify for the 2010 World Cup to be hosted in South Africa, first in the African continent. The Pesident said this yesterday while inaugurating the Presidential Committee on the 2010 World Cup. The 12-man committee was set up by President Yar'Adua to avoid a repetition of 2002 where Nigeria failed to qualify for the football competition held in Germany.
The committee is headed by the Governor of Rivers, Rotimi Amaechi and has Sports Minister and Chairman of National Sports Commission, Sani Ndanusa as Vice-chairman, Director General, National Sports Commission (NSC), Patrick Ekeji, as the Secretary. Other members of the task force are Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Chairman, Sani Lulu Abdullahi, Abdulmumuni Aminu, Austin (Jay-Jay) Okocha, Buba Ahmed, Segun Odegbami, Larry Izamoje, John Fashanu, John Mastoroudes, and Olusegun Adeniyi, as members.
Inaugurating the committee, President Yar'Adua said it is in a bid to ensure that the nation qualifies for 19th edition of the global fiesta slated for South Africa next year that he has gathered the team.
"I welcome you all to the inauguration of the Committee, which I set up with the sole mandate of assisting to effect a clear roadmap and guide our journey to the 2010 FIFA Football World Cup, which is being hosted on the African continent for the first time in the eighty year history of the competition.
"The 2010 World Cup is one event that Nigeria cannot afford to fail to qualify for. It will be a major tragedy if the green and white does not fly alongside the colours of the other thirty-one countries that would be in South Africa next year. This would be a tragedy for the millions of Nigerians for whom football has become a religion, and who had to endure the heartbreak of our failure to qualify for the 2006 edition in Germany.
"Based on our performance in the qualification rounds so far, many Nigerians are worried that the nightmare of 2006 might repeat itself. A good number of our people live and breathe football.
"It is more than a national pastime: it is one enduring unifying factor which sees tribe, tongue, faith, and political inclination dissipate into one glorious wellspring of unity and oneness.
"It is for these reasons and more that our administration has decided to make this critical intervention to ensure that our national team not only flies our beautiful flag in South Africa, but also does it in a way that pays fitting tribute to the Nigerian spirit", he said.
President Yar'Adua said Nigeria has all it takes to qualify and do well in South Africa. "But that is not enough. We need to do everything possible not only to qualify, but also to emerge as the first African country to win the World Cup. We have shown the world what we can do at the age-grade. Now is the time to show that we can pull it together where it matters most.
"I must point out that the Committee being inaugurated is not intended to replace the existing Nigerian Football Federation structure, but rather to augment and complement its efforts by mobilising all stakeholders and the requisite resources to ensure a successful prosecution of Nigeria's qualification and participation in the 2010 World Cup.
"I implore all the members of this Committee to see their assignment as a national call that demands the utmost sense of duty and commitment. I shall personally monitor developments, providing the requisite support to ensure that our national flag flies with pride and honour across the skies of South Africa in 2010.
I assure all Nigerians that I shall join with our uniquely talented heroic footballers as the twelfth player on the field whenever they don our national colours!" he said.
In his remark, the Chairman of the Committee and Governor of Rivers State, Chibuike Amaechi said there is no excuse good enough to justify failure to be at the 2010 World Cup. He also pledged the commitment of members of the committee to ensure the nation gets the sole ticket
"We will fashion out a way of motivating the Super Eagles players to demonstrate the typical Nigerian resilience and winning attitude, as well as a real sense of patriotism in the remaining qualifying matches. We will also mobilize our people behind the team while tapping from the goodwill of the private sector for the requisite financial resources for this assignment."
"I want to reiterate what Mr. President has just said that this Task Force will not interfere in the work of those charged with running Nigerian football. We are all busy people whose hands are already full. But we will provide all the necessary support in logistics and incentives for the Super Eagles to play with dignity, style, character, discipline and patriotism while showing the world glimpses of who we are and what we can achieve as a united nation", he said.
Coach Amodu Shiuabu who also accompanied committee members to the inauguration ceremony said he welcome the committee, adding that the work of the committee will go a long way in assisting the team. The coach also said that the coming of the committee also signifies that all hands are now on deck to ensuring that the nation qualifies for South Africa 2010.
Source: This Day