Chairman of Air Peace, Mr. Allen Onyema, on Monday, harped on the unifying power of sports, charging the national football team, the Super Eagles, to unify Nigeria through the instrumentality of football.
Chief Onyema, who spoke Monday morning on board Air Peace brand new Embraer 195-E2 aircraft airlifting the players to Cape Verde for their next match from the Murtala Muhammed International Airport, Lagos, promised N20 million for the 20 players if they win their Cape Verde match, emphasising that qualifying for the World Cup would open another opportunity for unifying Nigeria.
“I want that nationalistic zeal to burn in all of you and in all you do. Go out there and shine for your nation”.
Last week, Air Peace signed a four-year partnership agreement worth N1.2 billion with the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) as the official sponsor of the nation’s football teams.
Onyema said Air Peace is very happy to be associated with the team, adding that the favour which God granted Air Peace is now following the team, and this was reflected in their victory against Liberia on Friday.
“You won your first match resoundingly and we expect that the next one happening in Cape Verde in 24 hours time, will not be different”, he affirmed.
Onyema stressed that Air Peace threw its weight behind the national teams to restore hope in Nigeria, especially at a time the nation is in distress.
He said, “Gentlemen, why I decided to come to the airport at this time of the night by 2am to address you is because of this, you are not just going to play a football match, you’re going to carry on your young shoulders the aspirations and the hope of a nation almost in distress.
“A lot of people expect that this is the beginning of the peace and the unity and oneness we want in our nation Nigeria. We don’t have any other nation. The international community is envious of our nation. I want you to, please, go out there and shine for your nation.
“When you were playing on Friday, everybody jettisoned their ethnicity. The people in the South-East were clapping, the people in the North were clapping, the South-South also were clapping. I almost shed tears when Ahmed Musa was called in during the second half. Majority of the spectators at the Stadium were southern Nigerians but when the name of Ahmed Musa came up, a Kano indigene, the stadium roared up for joy, people were hailing, Nigerians stood up for him.
“Nigerians were expecting that you players should win for the nation, nobody remembered their ethnicity. Nobody remembered that they were Yoruba, Igbo, Hausa, Fulani or whatever.”
Acknowledging our differences as a people, Onyema said Nigeria is a great country with so much potential, and with oneness and love, Nigerians can surmount all challenges facing the nation.