Football Players’ Union in Nigeria – Speak Better Things! | As Harrison Jalla and Austin Popo’s Factions Agree to Sheath their Sword

Clement Temile

Most veteran left the candle night of Late Thompson Oliha with heavy heart, when they heard the true story of how the ex-international gave up the ghost. A brief illness that many felt could have been easily prevented or cured if there was an active football players’ union to intervene.

Oliha wasn’t the first or only ex-footballer that fell for lack of care. Players such as Wilfred Agbonabaire, Rahidi Yekini, Yomi Peters, Jossi Lad… all passed on due to there weren’t any quick medical intervention to their respective sick cases.

Late Thompson Oliha

For about a decade and half, footballers’ welfare in Nigeria has been mired in controversy. And concerned stakeholders are fading-up with the senseless battle between two factions – National Association of Nigerian Footballers (NANF), with President as Harrison Njala and Association of Professional Footballers of Nigeria (APFON); with a more vocal secretary Austin Popo.

Harrison Jalla
But Oliha’s Candle night set –off a group of peace makers that went on a mission to reconcile these two warring factions.  The reconciliation idea is driven by Clement Temile and his team.

Austin Popo
So far, their mission seems to be working as both factions have agreed to sheath their sword and embrace peace. They have also set a road map for unification of both associations into one body of Players’ Union in Nigeria. Nigeria Sports Commission (NSC) and Nigeria football Federation (NFF) have been communicated of this development and they are in full support.

On Wednesday July 8 2015, the interim committee that will usher in the new board will be inaugurated at the SWAN Secretariat, former National Stadium Surulere Lagos. All football stakeholders are invited. Ex-internationals such as Christian Chukwu, Segun Odegbami, Peter Rufai, and Austin Okocha… are expected to be present at the occasion.

Harrison Njala, President of NANF; Dahiri Sadi, President of APFON and Austin Popo, Secretary of APFON agreed not to contest election into the new board, but will be serving as the interim committee members; Timile and Segun Ogun explained at the Lagos Television (LTV) program, Sports Splash.

Rafiu Ladipo, Chairman of Nigeria Supporters club, believes that a unified players union will provide new lease of life for players in this country. He affirmed the need for a one strong players’ union:

“There are millions of dollars that international Federation of Professional Footballers (FIFPro) should have given to Nigerian Players’ Union that are still in the treasury.”

“This money accrued from transfer of Nigerian players to Europe, but because there is crisis as to the genuine body representing the Nigerian players’ interest, FIFPro will not release it” Ladipo informed.

“This is one of the reasons we are working hard to see that both parties sheath their sward and embrace peace.” “Unify for the sake of players that are suffering.” Temile pleaded.

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