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Musa, Ebi Reign Supreme At 2nd NFF/AIETO Football Award  

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Joel Ajayi  

Super Eagles’ stand-in captain Ahmed Musa and Super Falcons’ opposite number Onome Ebi took the big gongs at the second edition of the AITEO-NFF Football Awards that held in Lagos on Monday night.

 

The project started only last year, but as happened during the first edition, dignitaries and guests came from all over Africa and other parts of the world, and the class and delivery of the event is fast high setting standards for other Awards, national and continental, to match.

 

It was also, the special night of recognition to the Super Eagles’ Class of 1994 – the squad widely nicknamed ‘Golden Generation’ after qualifying Nigeria for her first –ever FIFA World Cup finals, winning the Africa Cup of Nations on away soil for the first time and coming within 100 seconds of a quarter final place at the World Cup in the United States of America.

 

Physically present and bathed in applause were goalkeepers Peter Rufai and Alloy Agu, defenders Austin Eguavoen, Uche Okechukwu, Benedict Iroha, Nduka Ugbade and Taribo West, midfielders Mutiu Adepoju, Austin ‘JJ’ Okocha, Sunday Oliseh and Edema Fuludu and forwards Finidi George, Samson Siasia and Daniel Amokachi. Omoyemi Yekini, daughter of the ‘goalsfather’ Rashidi Yekini, stood in for her late father as well as the four others who had passed on: team captain Stephen Keshi, goalkeeper Wilfred Agbonavbare, defender Uche Okafor and midfielder Thompson Oliha.

 

Emmanuel Amuneke, Michael Emenalo, Emeka Ezeugo, Efan Ekoku, Isaac Semitoje and Chidi Nwanu could not make it down to Nigeria for the ceremony. While a couple of the players present on Monday night did not make the final cut for the World Cup in America, six members of the group went ahead to join the Dream Team and return to America to conquer – by winning Africa’s men’s football gold at the Centennial Olympics in Atlanta two years later.

 

While FIFA Secretary –General , Ms Fatma Samoura (the first African/first woman to occupy the position) was honoured with the NFF Order of Merit Award, as Presidents of 18 Member Associations of FIFA, the Abia State Governor (Chief Okezie Ikpeazu), the Acting Governor of Edo State (Comrade Philip Shaibu) and captains of industry, political juggernauts, A-class artistes and heavyweight stakeholders of the game watched at the Eko Hotel and Suites, Victoria Island, Lagos.

 

President of the Nigeria Football Federation and First Vice President of CAF, Amaju Melvin Pinnick, once more eulogized the present administration of President Muhammadu Buhari (GCFR) for providing the conducive environment for football to thrive and for total support for the NFF and the various National Teams, while calling on Nigeria’s other billionaires and well –heeled companies to emulate AITEO Group and boost the development of football in Nigeria.

 

AITEO, Nigeria’s leading energy solutions company, also stands erect as Official Optimum Partner of the NFF and sponsors of the Federation Cup. It also bankrolls the annual African Football Awards organized by CAF. Its team on Monday night was led by Deputy Managing Director, Mr. Francis Peters and included the Executive Director, Mr. Andrew Onyearu.

 

Business mogul and politician, Chief M. K. O. Abiola was honoured with the NFF Presidential Award, while Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos received the Lifetime Achievement Award for his hefty support for football projects and programs of the National Teams.

 

 

NFF First Vice President and Chairman of the Awards organizing committee, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi said the Federation decided it was apt to honour the Super Eagles’ Class of 1994, 25 years to their AFCON –winning exploits and FIFA World Cup performance. It would be recalled that Nigeria was named the second most entertaining team of USA 1994 World Cup.

 

As A-list comedian Bovi and Malian broadcaster Mariam Diakite compered, the dignitaries including Presidents of the Football Associations of Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Gambia, Equatorial Guinea, Togo, Ethiopia, Benin Republic, South Sudan, Tanzania, Rwanda and Liberia applauded the winners with vigour. Among the winners were Super Falcons’ coach Thomas Dennerby, Super Eagles’ ace winger Samuel Chukwueze and Enugu Rangers’ coach Olugbenga Ogunbote.

 

Responding on behalf of the 1994 Eagles, defender Austin Eguavoen expressed deep appreciation of the squad to the NFF for the honour, while also using the opportunity to plead that NFF should help the players pursue the Federal Government’s promise of a house for each member of the squad, following the AFCON triumph in Tunisia 25 years ago.   

 

2ND AITEO-NFF AWARDS WINNERS

 

Young Player of the Year (Female): Anam Imo

Young Player of the Year (Male): Samuel Chukwueze

Fair Play Award: Akwa United FC

Fans of the Season: Kano Pillars FC Fans

Coach of the Year (Female): Thomas Dennerby

Coach of the Year (Male): Olugbenga Ogunbote

Goal of the Year: Ahmed Musa

Team of the Season: Super Falcons

NFF Development Award: Channels Television (Channels Kids’ Cup)

Special Recognition: Super Eagles of 1994                           

Lifetime Achievement Award: Governor Akinwunmi Ambode

NFF Presidential Award: Chief M.K.O Abiola (of blessed memory)

NFF Order of Merit Award: Fatma Samoura

Player of the Year (Female): Onome Ebi

Player of the Year (Male): Ahmed Musa

 

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Huawei to invest $150 million in digital talent devt

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Huawei says it plans to invest US$150 million in digital talent development over the next five years, noting that the programme will be beneficial to about 3 million youths.


“We are announcing Huawei’s Seeds for the Future Program 2.

0. As part of our commitment to continuously develop talent, we will invest US$150 million in this program over the next five years and help college students and young people improve their digital skills. This program is expected to benefit another 3 million people,” said Huawei’s Chairman Liang Hua.


The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr Isa Pantami, stated that “Nigeria is positioning to be the continent’s leader in digitalisation. Burkina Faso already has a ministry of digital economy but we have so many advantages” The advantages, according to him, include the country’s population and location, the contribution of the ICT to Gross Domestic Product, and the level of the ICT literacy among Nigerians.


He added that the government would henceforth be proactive in the ICT through effective application of emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Robotics, and Virtual Reality.


He noted that in a few years, Nigerians might no longer need to travel to India or other foreign countries for medical treatment, as surgeries could be performed on patients anywhere in the world by means of 5G technology.


He urged the 10 Nigerian students selected from different institutions for the Huawei internship programme to see themselves as future entrepreneurs in order to make the best of the opportunity.


“The ICT has the potential of employing and lifting millions of Nigerians out of poverty,” the minister added.
He commended Huawei for investing in the youths as part of its corporate social responsibility engagements.


The Managing Director of Huawei Technologies Nigeria Limited, Mr Trevor Liu stated that Nigeria has the largest population in Africa. These youth are the continent’s greatest resource which will power the economy in the future.


Huawei partners with the Nigerian governments, education institutes and industry to equip the future leaders with the latest knowledge at the highest global levels and provide them opportunities to apply the knowledge in order to achieve a better future for the continent.

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