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Controversy Follows List Of 60 Sports Icons Released By Sports Ministry



FG Speaks On Discontinuing National Sports Festival

Controversies have continued to trail the list of 60 Nigerian sports icons unveiled by the federal ministry of sports as part of the celebration of Nigeria’s 60th independence anniversary.

On Friday, the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development at an event at the Velodrome of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja unveiled the list.

The Minister of Youths and Sports, Sunday Dare, who was also present at the event explained that the list is to honour some Nigerians who have over the years, brought fame and glory to the country through their sporting exploits.

After the list was unveiled, most reactions that have followed while commending the idea behind the list, have condemned the execution with many noting that the list is faulty.

Stakeholders observed that some people that should be on the list are obviously absent without any reasonable explanation while the presence of some other names on the list has caused eyebrows to be raised.

For instance, the names of former Super Eagles captain Mikel Obi, WBA, IBF and WBO world boxing champion Anthony Joshua, Ruth Ogbeifo-Balofin, weightlifting Olympics silver medallist and the first African and Commonwealth lifter to win a medal at the global sports showpiece; Kadiri Ikhana, a 1980 AFCON winner who led Enyimba to win Nigeria’s first CAF Champions League title in 2003, amongst others were missing on the list.

Some other notable expectations that were shockingly left off the list also include Shuaibu Amodu, who qualified the Eagles for two World Cups; Kadiri Ikhana, 1980 AFCON winner and first Nigeria coach to lead a team to win the CAF Champions League; Vincent Enyeama, the country’s most capped footballer; Victor Osimhen, U-17 World Cup winner and record scorer at the tournament; ex-African squash champion Samson Egbeyemi, and two-time African champions Enyimba.

This development has continued to draw reactions from stakeholders.

Sports journalist, Godwin Enakhena, questioned the inclusion of businessmen Aliko Dangote and Kesington Adebutu, while late Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas, sponsor of the Asoju Oba Table Tennis Cup, which has been held for over 50 years, was excluded.

He also pointed out that Israel Adesanya, who represents New Zealand as a UFC fighter featured on the list while Hakeem Olajuwon who is regarded as one of the greatest basketball players of all time missed out.

“The minister should be commended for thinking about a brilliant idea like this, but unfortunately, a very good idea has been rubbished by not capturing the true heroes of Nigerian sports,” he said.

Then added: “Yes, some of them are on the list but you cannot have 60 icons and the first man to win a medal for Nigeria – Emmanuel Ifeajuna – was not captured, you can’t have a list where Okoya-Thomas is not captured.

“You can’t have a duplication where you have Garba Lawal, Daniel Amokachi and the rest standing on their own and you also list them in the team that won the Olympics football gold.

“I think it was well-thought out, but the implementation was wrong. A list like this shouldn’t be thrown open for the public to vote. The ministry should have made the list of 200 athletes across board for people to vote from the list, not that people will just vote randomly.

“The list did not do justice to what it should be. There are a lot of minuses. You’ll ask yourself, what is Dangote doing on that list, or Kensington Adebutu? This is a list of icons for 60 years, not what they did yesterday. So, it doesn’t capture it at all.”

Below is the full list unveiled by the Ministry.

1. Chioma Ajunwa

2. Mary Onyali
3. Jighere Wellington
4. Odion Aikhoje
5. Duncan Dokiware
6. Austin Okocha
7. Nwankwo Kanu
8. Feyisetan Are
9. Blessing Okagbare
10. Garba Lawal
11. Lucy Ejike
12. Falilat Ogunkoya/Atlanta ’96 4x400m
13. Sunday Bada/Sydney 2000 men’s 4x400m
14. Atlanta Olympics football team
15. Emmanuel Amuneke
16. Chika Chukwumeriji
17. Davidson Ezinwa
18. Odunayo Adekuoroye
19. Modupe Oshikoya
20. Peter Konyegwachie
21. Olusoji Fasuba
22. Nduka Ugbade/Sebastine Broadricks-Imasuen/1985 Eaglets
23. Hogan Bassey
24. Dick Tiger
25. Samuel Peters
26. Barcelona 92′ quartet (Men’s 4x100m Relay)
27. Funke Oshonaike
28. Segun Odegbami
29. D’Tigress
30. Segun Toriola
31. Roland Ezuruike
32. Mayegun Nojeem
33. Sam Igun
34. Israel Adesanya
35. Super Eagles 1994
36. Olumide Oyedeji
37. Blessing Oborududu
38. Tompraba Grikpa
39. Chidi Imoh
40. Christian Chukwu
41. Ajibola Adeoye
42. Stephen Keshi
43. Atanda Musa
44. Muda Lawal/Emmanuel Okala/Green Eagles 1980
45. Daniel Amokachi
46. Rashidi Yekini
47. Teslim Thunder Balogun
48. Perpetua Nkwocha
49. Super Falcons
50. Power Mike
51. Flora Ugwunwa
52. Lauretta Onye
53. Sam Okwaraji
54. Nduka Odizor
55. David Izonrite
56. Chief MKO Abiola
57. Dr. Larry Izamoje
58. Mazi. Ernest Okonkwo
59. Alh. Aliko Dangote
60. Sir Kesington Adebutu

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