Supporters Club factions set to close ranks for Super Eagles
For eight years, the Super Eagles have been operating with various factions of the Supporters Clubs ditching out discordant tunes at match venues.
Prior to Brazil 2014 FIFA World Cup, the Nigeria Football Supporters Club had remained indissoluble, united in one accord, singing and cheering the Super Eagles to victory at matches.
Things, then, fell apart shortly after the World Cup when a major crack occurred in the club, leading to the emergence of a new group, Super Eagles Supporters headed by Prince Vincent Okumagba.
Thereafter, two other groups also emerged from the breakaway group, bringing the number to four supporters clubs in the country.
At the Egypt 2019 AFCON, the four groups operated differently, singing different songs and offering different drum beats from four opposing directions.
However, the good old days seem to be coming back, if the declarations by the President General of Nigeria Football Supporters Club Worldwide, Dr. Rafiu Ladipo, and Vincent Okumagba are anything to go by.
Just before Nigeria took on Guinea-Bissau in their last group match in Garoua on Wednesday, Okumagba told journalists that his group was ready to re-unite with other groups if things are done properly.
Okumagba, whose group just struck a partnership deal with Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation in the fight against malaria in Africa, stated that a united Supporters Club is possible if initiated by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
“Yes, it is possible for us to operate as one body again, but certain things have to be taken into consideration.
“If we become one, who will control? Those in group A won’t allow group B to control their people, and those in group B won’t allow group A to control their people. Now, we have different uniforms. Which one are we going to wear? We are ready if others are ready to come to the table,” he stated.
On the partnership with Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation, Okumagba said: “Statistics by the World Health Organisation (WHO) shows that in 2019, the African region accounted for 94 per cent of all malaria cases worldwide. During the period, six African countries accounted for approximately half of all malaria deaths globally. These are Nigeria (24 per cent), the Democratic Republic of Congo (11 percent), Tanzania (five per cent), Burkina Faso (four per cent), Mozambique (four per cent), and Niger (four per cent). The Prince Ned Nwoko Foundation has decided to confront this Africa’s biggest health challenge, malaria. As Super Eagles Supporters Club, we are into this partnership to join hands eradicate malaria from Africa.”
As the usual practice since they broke apart in 2014, the Okumagba-led Super Eagles Supporters Club and the Nigeria Football Supporters Club led by Rev Samuel Ikpea, arrived at the Rauda Adjia Stadium on Wednesday armed with different instruments for singing and drumming for the team.
The match tickets given to them by the NFF paired the two groups so close to each other inside the stadium. It became a big worry for Dr. Ladipo.
“I was worried because the two groups were originally one before some bad elements within the Nigerian football system separated us. What I did was walk up to Vincent Okumagba. I equally brought in Rev Ikpea. We spoke on the need to show maturity and operate as one. That was how the two groups sang and drummed together for the first time since 2014.
“We enjoyed it, and we agreed that as soon as we return to Lagos, we will sit down and iron out our differences. I am sure the other two groups will join us soon. The era of singing different songs and beating different drums inside the stadium will soon be a thing of the past. As the President General of all Football Supporters Clubs in Africa, I intervened when Ghana was having over 72 different supporters clubs. It worked. Why can’t we have one supporters club in my country? Things will return to normal soon,” Ladipo stated.