Daily Trust (Abuja)

Nigeria: Ex-Internationals Want National Stadium Named After Abiola

Former Nigerian Internationals in football want the Federal Government to name the National Stadium, Surulere, after late sports philanthropist and politician, Chief M.K.O. Abiola.

On Tuesday, at the Lagos State sponsored maiden Abiola Memorial Cup, held at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere.

They lauded the state government for organising the event that pitted the state's All Stars Football Team against a defunct make-shift Abiola Babes FC.

Chief Segun Odegbami (MON), recalled that Abiola single-handedly bankrolled sports in the country when he was alive, noting that his impact that was still being felt today.

The former Green Eagles Captain suggested that Abiola's efforts in promoting sports should be acknowledged by naming the national stadium after him.

"Abiola has contributed immensely to sports development in the country; the federal government should honour him by naming the National Stadium, Surulere, after him," he said.

Green Eagles mid-fielder in the 1980s, Henry Nwosu, also described Abiola, as a dedicated lover of sports; a remarkable feat that earned him the title of the Pillar of Sports in Africa. Nwosu said that the gesture of the Lagos State government was worthy of commendation and urged the federal government to name a monumental sporting landmark after Abiola.

"If you ask me, I feel it would be more appropriate to also name a sporting landmark like the National Stadium in Lagos after him," Nwosu said.

In a similar vein, Ademola Adesina, a member of the Super Eagles squad that won the silver medal at the 1990 edition of the Africa Cup of Nations, in Algiers, said that June 12 should be declared as democracy day. He said that the event afforded him an opportunity to re-unite with his former colleagues.

Acknowledging Abiola's large heartedness in bankrolling sporting activities, Bright Omokaro, a former defence stalwart of the then Abiola Babes, described him as a great icon.

Omokaro told NAN that Abiola should also be accorded recognition in Africa and worldwide.

"Abiola loved football with all he had; I think the state government and the organisers of this programme should be commended for according him this honour," he said.

Mike Onyemachara, also a former international, described Abiola as a kind-hearted man who could wine and dine with everyone, regardless of their social status.

"Abiola should not be forgotten, and the memorial cup should be sustained," he said.

Meanwhile, Tajudeen Disu, a former Abiola Babes' player and organiser of the event, said that he benefitted immensely from Abiola's largesse. He commended the state's governor; Babatunde Fashola, for making it possible for several ex-internationals to regroup and re-enact their rivalry.

NAN reports that Abiola Babes defeated All Stars 1-0 to win the Cup.

NAN

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