It is clear as the election of football icon, George Opong Weah, as President of Liberia in a run-off poll conducted December 26 has a “very serious implication” for Africans all over the world, former Nigeria international, Chief Segun Odegbami, has said.
Reacting to the result of the poll, Thursday, Odegbami enthused, “Weah’s election is of very serious implication for the world and Nigeria, in particular where sports is ranked very low – indeed, below 40 in our priority list.”
He said, George Weah played football and won everything conceivable. But as a man concerned about the poor condition of his people, he decided to assume the leadership of his country, and the people accorded him that recognition by giving him their mandate. He is a shining example of how sports has the power to change the world.”
Odegbami said developments in Liberia could influence a lot of change in the way Africans are perceived by the outside world.
“Our young men and women, through their music, movies, arts and sports are redefining the global cultural landscape. America once dominated the world in all these areas but not now that our entertainment industry is developing a culture for the world to emulate.
“Let us lay emphasis on the arts because of the breakthrough our youths have attained in that area. Now more of our youths are interested in the arts and technology.
“Mandela once said, ‘the day Nigeria becomes liberated, the whole of Africa will be liberated’. It is time we brought that statement to reality.”
He said most importantly, “Weah’s election also shows that footballers or sportsmen and women cannot be taken for granted. “Here in Nigeria, my attempt to become “ordinary FIFA Presdent” was met with a lot of scepticism, as some even asked, “who is Odegbami to contest for FIFA presidency? Even to become the President of the Nigeria Football Federation, ex-footballers are not considered good enough.”
The former Nigeria captain expressed confidence in the President-elect, George Weah’s ability to steer the affairs of Liberia because of his personal feelings for the people and the level of investment he had put into developing himself.
Odegbami recalled, “after the last Presidential election which he contested against Sirleaf Johnson, President Obasanjo invited both candidates to Nigeria. He told Weah to suspend his ambition of becoming president albeit, temporarily so that he could go back to school. The Nigerian leader told him that if he (Weah) heeded his advice he would personally ensure he becomes the next President of Liberia. Weah indeed, listened to Obasanjo, took his advice and went back to America to read.
“We met in South Africa in 2010 and we talked about it. Today Weah holds a Masters Degree and is very prepared for leadership.
“He will succeed and I am sure he will get a lot of support from Nigeria.”