The National Orientation Agency (NOA) and football legend, Austin Jay-jay Okocha have called on Nigerian elites, celebrities and corporate bodies to show patriotism through their contributions toward alleviating the plights of the internally displaced in the country.
They made the call during a novelty match organized by the Jay-jay Okocha Foundation in collaboration with NOA for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) at the Kuchingoro IDPs Camp, Abuja to mark the football icon’s 43rd birthday.
Director General of NOA, Garba Abari, represented by the Director, Special Duties, Mrs. Mette Edekobi said Okocha’s gesture of celebrating his birthday with the IDPs and making donations to them was timely and symbolic of his nationalism. He urged Nigerian celebrities and the elite to borrow a leaf from Okocha in supporting the IDPs, stressing that such solidarity would go a long way to give them a sense of belonging in the country.
“Okocha could have chosen to celebrate his birthday with a lavish party in the South East or South South, but he chose instead to identify with the IDPs and wrote to NOA to partner with him in that regard. That is the way to go. It shows nationalism and patriotism and other Nigerian celebrities should emulate this”, Abari said.
Speaking on the inspiration for the novelty match, Austin Jay-jay Okocha said it was his way of giving back to society as part of his social responsibility, adding that the poor living conditions of the IDPs was reminiscent of his early days, hence the nostalgic feeling that came with playing football alongside them. “Seeing them play such good football without shoes is remarkable because I also once played football without shoes”.
He called on the Nigeria Football Federation and corporate bodies to put necessary structures in place to scout for young football talents such as IDP children which he said was in abundance. He described football as a tool and a voice for creating awareness on national issues as well as mentoring the younger generation, pledging to use football to mobilize Nigerians for peace and unity and to give back to the less privileged in society.