Former Golden Eaglets’ coach, Manu Garba is seeking the intervention of Cross River State Governor Bassey Otu and top Cross River State citizen, Senator John Owan Enoh who is the Minister of Sports Development, to ensure that house gifts expressly pledged to players and officials of the 2013 FIFA U-17 World Cup-winning team are redeemed.
The Nigeria U17 team won the global title for a record extending fourth time in 2013 and again won under Coach Amuneke for the fifth time in 2015.
In 2015, the then Cross River State Governor, Liyel Imoke, made pledges to the team while hosting the players and officials.
Imoke, during a reception inside the state’s council chamber in Calabar on Friday, 15th November 2013, promised house gifts to the 21 players and 10 officials of the victorious team for doing the country proud at the United Arab Emirates-hosted event.
Ten years later, the pledge is still hanging. “We want to make an investment with you in property,” Imoke said in front of camera and in the presence of the then Minister of Youth & Sports Development, Mallam Bolaji Abdulahi, and chieftains of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) led by the then President, Aminu Maigari.
He added : “We have a new housing estate already being developed and at the end of the completion of those estates, each one of you will have a small piece of property that is your own and that would have been fully developed; that you can rent out or occupy.”
But Garba said it is shocking that the pledge made by Senator Imoke in 2013, on behalf of the government and people of Cross River State, is yet to materialise.
“Of course, we were all excited when Senator Liyel Imoke made the pronouncement at the Government House in Calabar when he hosted us for winning the FIFA U-17 World Cup in 2013, but this is 2023 and ten years after the pledge, we are yet to be given the houses as promised,” Garba said, adding that efforts made during the tenure of Imoke’s successor, Professor Ben Ayade, bore no fruitful results either.
“The FIFA U-17 World Cup-winning team of 2013 was the baby of the Cross River State because we were camped at the Princeville Hotel in Calabar for many months, and we played all our qualifying matches there. Unfortunately, we are yet to be given these houses despite efforts to have the pledge redeemed during the tenure of Professor Ayade.”
He added: “We are pleading with the new Governor , His Excellency , Bassey Otu to use his good office to fulfil this pledge made on behalf of the state government by Senator Imoke, and I’m also seeking the intervention of Minister of Sports Development, Senator John Enoh, who coincidentally comes from Cross River State, to ensure that justice is done on our behalf.
“We have waited so long. This year, we lost the hard working equipment manager of the team, Muhammed Kafa, and it would be in his good memory and show that our labour of winning the World Cup in 2013, was not in vain if we get these houses,” stated Garba.