Super Eagles legend Austin Okocha has responded to recent reports suggesting he is in line to be appointed as Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration, Soccernet.ng reports.
Okocha, one of Africa’s greatest-ever players, expressed surprise at the news, stating that he learned about the potential appointment through news reports since no government official had contacted him directly.
The football legend and former captain of the Super Eagles, Austin “Jay-Jay” Okocha, has been nominated as the next Minister for Youth and Sports in Nigeria. pic.twitter.com/GQYYX7RF7l— Engineer Matšhela Koko, MBL (@koko_matshela) July 13, 2023
Via a post on his Twitter account, acclaimed Beninese journalist Hugues Zinsou Zounon, a recipient of Benin’s national order of merit award, revealed that the Super Eagles legend admitted that he would be thrilled to assume the role of Minister of Youth and Sports.
While there is no official confirmation of the appointment at present, Okocha expressed hope that the information would be verified soon. Zounon shared, alongside a photo of the two, that he met with Okocha at the Sofitel Ivoire.
Okocha affirms that he learned like everyone that he would be minister of sports. Nothing official for the moment but he hopes that the info will be confirmed. I met him at the Sofitel ivoire.— Hugues Zinsou Zounon (@HuguesZounon) July 14, 2023
Although Okocha has not been involved in Nigerian politics before, he possesses substantial experience in the country’s sporting landscape.
Recognized as a key figure in Nigerian sports history, Okocha was a vital player in the Super Eagles’ victory at the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations. Furthermore, he won a gold medal at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics.
From 2019 to 2023, he served as the technical adviser of the youth and sports committee in his home state of Enugu. Additionally, Okocha held the position of chairman at the Delta State Football Association.
Through these roles, he gained insights into governance and government policies about youth and sports development in Nigeria.
Okocha has previously expressed his desire to become the president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
His contributions to the sport extend beyond national borders, as he has served in various capacities within FIFA and participated in committees established by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to address important issues in African football.
Nigeria’s sports sector has faced significant challenges due to mismanagement in the past, and Okocha’s appointment could bring about much-needed development.
If officially appointed, Okocha would make history as the first former international footballer to hold this prestigious position.