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Exclusive:  Mexico ’83 Flying Eagles Petition House Of Reps, Want Monitized Scholarship, MON Awards Pledges Redeemed

Exclusive:  Mexico ’83 Flying Eagles Petition House Of Reps, Want Monitized Scholarship, MON Awards Pledges Redeemed

Forty years after Nigeria made her debut at the FIFA U-20 World Cup in the  Mexico 1983 edition, the Flying Eagles players to that tournament are yet to receive their ‘monetized’ Scholarship and MON awards promised to them by the then President of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari, Completesports.com reports.

The players are also yet to be conferred with the national award of Member Order of the Niger, MON, as approved by the Speaker House of Representative Committee Rt. Hon. Tajudeen Abbas.

Tarila Okorowanta scored 12 minutes before regulation time as Nigeria beat the Soviet Union 1-0 to win her first FIFA U20 World Cup match.

Brazil won the tournament, beating eternal rivals and fellow South American neighbours, Argentina 1-0 in the final match.


Flying Eagles squad that pipped Guinea 2-0 enroute to Mexico’83 FIFA U-20 World Cup:
Standing (L-R): Late Chris Udemezue (Head Coach), Chibuzor Ehilegbu, Bright Ohiku, Paul Okoku, the late coach Isiaka Yakubu, Edema Benson, Wilfred Agbonavbare, Wahab Adeshina, Taju Disu, GM, Segun Olukanni, supporter.
Squatting (L-R): Humphrey Edobor, Amaechi Oti, the late Christopher Anigala, Samson Siasia, the late Ali Jeje, Dehinde Akinlotan, Femi Olukanni, Tarila Okorowanta, Patrick Udoh.
Photo credit: Paul Okoku (Facebook)

Despite not reaching the knockout stages, the Flying Eagles were warmly welcomed home, with then President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari (now late), awarding full-time scholarships to all the 18 players and their coaches, led by Christopher Udemezue (now late).

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The players and coaches were also to be decorated with the National Honour of Member Order of the Niger, MON.

But 40 years on, none of the promises has been fulfilled, leaving the players to wonder if their ‘labour was in vain’.

Completesports.com checks reveal that the players have since been making frantic efforts to ensure that they received their dues.

It was further gathered that Rt. Hon. Abbas, now Speaker of the House of Representatives, recently chaired a House Committee which voted for the ‘monetisation’ of the players’ scholarship awards since not all of the 18 players were academically inclined.

The players had agreed amongst themselves to have the full value of the four-year university Scholarship converted to cash.

Completesports.com understands that the players have now renewed their push for fairness, equity, and justice, in their collective desire to ensure that the current Federal Government under the leadership of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu released funds through the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports for them to be paid and as well be recognised with National Honour of Member Order of the Niger, MON, as earlier promised them 40 years ago.

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To this end, though some of the players, including captain Ali Jeje, defender Yisa Shofoluwe, goalkeeper Raymond King, left winger Chris Anigala as well as Coach Christopher Udemezue and his assistant, Yakubu are no more alive, the Mexico ’83 Flying Eagles players have written to the House of Representatives Speaker, Rt. Hon.  Abbas, seeking an audience with him on the matter.

Paul Okoku

According to the letter signed by the former Vice Captain of the team, Paul Okoku, sighted by Completesports.com, the players have proposed August 29 for the parley with Honourable Abbas.

“Some of our team members of the Flying Eagles of 1983 set, will be in Abuja on that day (August 29), and we would welcome the opportunity to talk to you about the pending action on the issues of monetizing the Scholarship and the conferment of the National Honour: Member of the Order of the Niger, MON, that were both promised to our team in 1983 by the (now late) President of Nigeria, Alhaji Shehu Shagari,” the letter reads in part.

“We would like to acknowledge that the effort to initiate the campaign to monetize our Scholarship was the brainchild of both your humility and leadership. Seeing how you gained the support of your fellow Honourable members of the House of Representatives was truly inspirational (sic).

“We thank you, sir, for your efforts, for your service, and for your continued support to see us through our movement after four decades”


Nigeria’s Flying Eagles 1983 team

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They recalled that having pushed their demands through, it was sad that former Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, was unable to input the money into the Sports Ministry’s budget, hence the delay in the settlement of the monetized Scholarship and award of national honour.

“After you and your colleagues passed the resolution by unanimous votes to monetize our Scholarship and to confer us with the National Honour of MON, you told me at the time that the House was waiting for the then Minister of Sports, Hon Solomon Dalung, to include the funds in the 2018 budget. But unfortunately, that did not happen,” the player lamented.

“We’ve written several letters on numerous occasions to the immediate past Minister of Sports, Sunday Dare, and former Super Eagles Captain, Dan Amokachi – Adviser on Sports to former President of Nigeria, Mohammadu Buhari, as reminders on the pending issues from the passed resolution by the House of Representatives to monetize our Scholarship, using the current costs of a four-year University degree course in the United States of America, USA, as a baseline.

“And to officially (and finally) commemorate us with the National Honour, Member of the Order of the Niger, MON,” the lm, concluded with a passionate appeal that ‘the efforts of our heroes past shall never be in vain’.

Exclusive By Sab Osuji

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  • pompei 10 months ago

    40 years waiting. Some of the players have even died. Dying waiting for reward that never came.
    The right thing to do now is that any money owed to them should be converted to present day value. If the monetary award was $1000 for instance, to pay them that amount 40 years later is wrong. Pay them the CURRENT VALUE.
    Adjust that money for inflation and compound interest for 40 years, using a reasonable interest rate. Then make payment promptly.
    A 40 year old mess. Let the people responsible do the needful.

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