The National Stadium, Lagos was a beehive of activities on Wednesday afternoon as retired national team players alongside the National Association of Nigerian Footballers, the body also referred to as ‘Nigeria Players Union’, staged a rally to kick against the Aminu Maigari-led Nigeria Football Federation board and also to address other issues affecting the growth of the game in the country.
Other issues that generated heated debate were how to address cases of untimely deaths of ex-internationals, which was claimed to be as a result of total neglect from the Nigerian government and the ill-treatment meted out to retired footballers by the NFF.
Former Super Eagle Thompson Oliha died on Sunday morning at age 44.
Addressing a large crowd at the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria secretariat after a procession round the stadium with solidarity songs chanted amid display of placards with different inscriptions, Harrison Jalla, president of the Nigerian Professional Footballers claimed that the NFF executives led by Maigari have done more harm than good to the development of football in the country.
“We are expressing our discontent with what we think is wrong with the state of Nigerian football. Things must change. Maigari and the rest must vacate office with immediate effect. They must obey the judgment of the court. If they don’t vacate in the next two weeks, we will result to self-help to throw them out of there. We need to secure the future of Nigeria football, and the time is now,” Jalla said.
‘’Young footballers are emerging from the country day by day, and we don’t want them to suffer our own fate. Besides this, much death in one year is incredible. Our colleagues are dying of neglect and there must be inbuilt mechanism for this to change. We want to take our destiny in our own hands because we can’t continue like this. We want Nigerians to know that enough is enough,” he concluded.
In an interview with Goal, former Flying Eagles forward Monday Odiaka said that allowing illegality to continue is a danger signal for the country.
“We want changes, we want the government to do the right thing. A court order asked Maigari and his gang to vacate the Glass House, and for three years we still let them damage our football. They are an illegal body not supposed to be in existence,” Odiaka said.