BY ANDREW EKEJIUBA
Former Nigerian striker Benedict Akwuegbu has revealed that he’s being lobbied to contest the position of President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) ahead of the body’s anticipated elective congress by a section of those who want ex-footballers to take over administrative affairs at the Sunday Dankaro House in Abuja.
The list of former footballers whose names have cropped up in the last couple of weeks include former Vice-President of the NFF and one-time Chairman of the Nigeria Professional Football League, Chief Rumson Victor Baribote, former Green Eagles Captain Segun Patrick Odegbami, immediate past Technical Director of the NFF Bitrus Bewarang, former international goalkeeper, who is now a pundit and a man of God Peterside Idah and present Super Eagles coordinator Patrick Paschal.
More retired footballers are still cropping up for the NFF top job.
It is evident the Samuel Eto’o’s success story in Cameroon has spurred Nigeria’s former footballers up and suddenly given them a collective sense of self belief.
Nonetheless, a look at Akwuegbu’s credentials shows that as a footballer, he had shot into international reckoning with the Nigeria national Under-17 team, the Golden Eaglets at the FIFA Under-17 World Championship in Scotland in 1989.
He was one of Nigeria’s youngest footballers in that team which was tinkered by Sebastian Broderick-Imasuen.
That team had very talented assemblage, the likes of Godwin Okpara, Babajide Oguntunase, Victor Ikpeba, Patrick Mancha, Bobolayefa Edon, Nura Mohammed and several others.
Akwuegbu later played for Nigeria at the Africa Youth Championship in Mauritius in 1993.
The Nigeria’s 1993 AYC team was also star-studded regardless of the fact that the team did not go beyond the first round.
James Peters tinkered that team and the boys were skippered by Patrick Mancha. That team had such famous talents as Austin Okocha, Taribo West, Tijani Babangida, Peter Ogaba and several others.
He also played for Nigeria at full international level at the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations finals which was co-hosted by Nigeria and Ghana.
Akwuegbu won a silver medal with Nigeria at that tournament following the Super Eagles final defeat at the hands of bitter rivals, the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon in Lagos.
He also was part of Coach Festus Adegboye Onigbinde tutored Super Eagles squad at the 2002 World Cup finals in the far east.
Following his retirement from football he also had some grassroots football development stints.
He formed Akwuegbu United in Imo State in 2003 and later also formed Mbaise United which later went on to represent Imo State in the national FA Cup alongside Heartlands FC of Owerri.
He also sponsored the Ben Akwuegbu Cup and the legends get-together in Jos.
He was also appointed assistant general Manager of Heartland FC of Owerri by Governor Rochas Okorocha at a time and after leaving Heartland he became the Technical Director of his childhood club, Mighty Jets FC of Jos.
Currently he is an undergraduate in a University in the United Kingdom.
He cited serious dereliction of duties on the side of the present board as his reasons for coming out to contest.
“I know I am heavily underrated but I will contest that election and win,” Akwuegbu said.
“Amaju Pinnick has done his bits but it’s time he steps aside”.