Chairman of Blaugrana Sports Group International Nigeria, Leslie Oghomienor, has joined the call for the renaming of the Lagos National Stadium after former Super Eagles star, Sam Okwaraji, who died while playing for Nigeria at the stadium in 1989.
Okwaraji slumped and died on August 12, 1989, during an Italia ’90 World Cup qualifier against Angola.
After his death, the Federal Government, then led by General Ibrahim Babangida, promised to immortalise the fallen star, who was regarded as one of the most patriotic Nigerian sportsmen due to his attitude to national assignments. Unfortunately, nothing has been done to immortalise the late midfielder since then.
Speaking on the 31st anniversary of the late midfielder’s demise, Oghomienor, whose outfit runs the Barcelona Academy in Nigeria, said renaming the stadium after Okwaraji would send a positive signal to the country’s current and aspiring stars.
Oghomienor, who was on a tour of the Barca Academy facilities at the National Stadium and Teslim Balogun, Lagos in preparation for a possible resumption of the football activities when the Federal Government lifts the ban on sporting actions, said he is excited by the news that the Ministerial Implementation Committee on the Restoration of the National Stadium will soon start work on the complex.
Applauding the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) for its decision to rest the number six jersey worn by Okwaraji on the day he died, Oghomienor said, “Okwaraji was an exemplary leader and selfless patriot, who like a good soldier died in action. He is a role model for the younger generation, especially those of them who dare to find out who he really was.
“We in Blaugrana Sports believe he deserves to be honoured. Renaming the National Stadium as Samuel Okwaraji Stadium will send a positive message to the younger generation.”
He also commended Sports Minister, Sunday Dare, for his “audacious ambition, courage and boldness to further the vision of the present government and build a formidable legacy for the ministry,” adding that the restoration of the Lagos National Stadium will go down in history as one of the administration’s biggest achievements.
Oghomienor said Nigerian sports would witness huge growth when the arena is opened for big international and local events.
“In the glorious days of Nigerian sports, children viewed going to the National Stadium as a privilege open to only a few lucky ones. Every budding athlete dreamt of gracing the National Stadium and therefore worked hard to be chosen in teams billed to play at the main bowl.
“So, we believe that bringing it back to what it used to be will rate Sunday Dare as one of the best brains to manage Nigerian sports. It will also be one of the best things to happen to the sports industry in recent times,” he said.