By Olanrewaju Akojede
Lagos – Samuel Ikpea, President, Nigeria Football Supporters Club (NFSC), has debunked the statement credited to the Media Officer of Super Eagles, Toyin Ibitoye, that the club was enmeshed in leadership crisis.
Ikpea told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Wednesday in Lagos while reacting to Ibitoye’s allegation on the leadership of the supporters club.
The Eagles spokesman had on Monday in a private newspaper interview allegedly said that the Nigeria Football Federation was mindful of the situation with the Nigeria Football Supporters Club, which is a private body.
He also said that hence, there were plans to ensure that the crisis did not affect the Eagles in Russia.
Ikpea quoted him as saying: “The Nigerian Football Supporters Club has split into two factions with Rev. Ikpea and Vincent Okumagba laying claims to the leadership of the body.
“The Ikpea faction is backed by majority of the members, including Rafiu Ladipo, who is the President-General of the body.
“While Okumagba is supported by the younger elements, who want change in leadership from Ladipo’s over 20 years of controlling the body.
“The club could not travel with the Super Eagles to Ndola where Zambia hosted Nigeria in the opening game of the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers.
“The Ikpea-led group arrived in Cameroun by road on match day when the Indomitable Lions hosted the Super Eagles in Yaoundé.
On the position of NFF over the issue, Ikpea said that it was unfortunate that the football house was feigning ignorance about the status of the association.
“There is no truth in a statement by Super Eagles Spokesman, Ibitoye, over their imaginary crisis. We had a legitimate election last year which has the NFF representative in attendance.
“There is no faction or crisis at all, I was duly and democratically elected at the July 10, 2016 election at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, so why the denial of the authenticity of headship of NFSC.
“What I expect from NFF is a role of bridge builder and not fanning the embers of disunity. The fact remains that the supporters club is a one body with no known faction,’’ he said.
Ikpea said that if NFF truly wanted to send a contingent to Russia 2018 World Cup, they knew who and who to contact.
“If the NFF truly want to sponsor some of us to Russia, they know who to contact there are no two ways to that. They are well aware of the status of our association.
“Maybe, this is another ploy to sponsor some of their cronies to the Mundial on government payroll by claiming that we are divided or did not know the faction to deal with.
“We want to appeal to NFF not to divide the house with undue interference and speeches that could set the association on the brink.
“The election which they failed to acknowledge was witnessed by the body’s council of Elders, Representatives from the NFF and Ministry of Sports,’’ he said.
On the issues around Okumagba, Ikpea said he has been officially dismissed from the club in 2015, adding that the club had been part and parcel of the Super Eagles qualifiers.
“We have been part of Eagles matches both home and away, where we spent our personal resources and even our lives to travel to Cameroon by road.
“About Okumagba, he and some members were officially dismissed from the club for anti-club activities and disrespect to the club.
“ Their letters were forwarded to the NFF, Nigeria Police, Ministry of Sports and House of Assembly which they acknowledged, copies of the letters were documented,’’ he said. (