Was President Buhari at Abuja Stadium during Nigeria v Ghana’s match? The Informant247

Was President Buhari at Abuja Stadium during Nigeria vs Ghana match?

This is a question running through the lips of many football fans and spectators alike. Was President Muhammadu Buhari really present at Moshood Abiola National Stadium when Nigeria played against Ghana?

He would have been so conspicuous. The State House would have announced it. The media would have lifted the story. He, himself, could have even talked about it- all were some of the rhetorics that have characterised the narratives of whether the President was at the Stadium or not.

Recall that the Super Eagles failed to qualify for the Qatar World Cup after losing out on away goals rule to Ghana despite playing 1-1 on aggregate.

Ahead of the first leg in Ghana, the Minister of Youth and Sports development, Sunday Dare had hinted at the possibility of President Buhari’s appearance at the second leg in Abuja.

The momentum around the second leg was massive that the federal government declared a half-working day schedule for all the federal civil servants coupled with some free match tickets also made available – all in a bid to gather support for the Eagles.

While a recent report by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) in its communiqué after an Executive Board meeting on the 5th of April acknowledged the ‘personal presence’ of President Buhari at the match venue, the rituals and customary recognition which were supposed to announce his presence never did before and after the game.

“The Executive Committee tendered an unreserved apology to the Federal Government and the people of Nigeria for the inability of the Super Eagles to win a ticket to the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022. It praised the President and Commander-In-Chief of the Armed Forces of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari, GCFR for his personal presence and apologised that the team faltered in the quest for a ticket to Qatar” said NFF in a statement.

It’s customary and protocol that the presence of the President at any State functions in and out of the country would always be greeted by media attention and publicity; yet this seemed to be a different case.

Why was his presence not noted during or after the game?

Going by the claim of NFF with the appreciation of the ‘personal presence’ of the President, one could judge that it was a deliberate effort at not making his presence known to the world.

But why?

There’s been a ‘theory of bad luck’ connection with the President giving open support to a ’cause’ especially when it is related to Sports: team or individual.

An instance was when the President reportedly spoke to the Super Eagles via a video chat ahead of their round of 16 game against Tunisia in the last AFCON in Cameroon.

Many held that the Nigerian team lost to Tunisia due to their conversation with President Buhari before the game.

Like the AFCON experience, there was another report which suggests that the Nigerian-British boxer, Anthony Joshua failed to win after having a conversation with the President ahead of his fight.

Many are however left without further introspection but to conclude that there was a concerted and deliberate effort at not making the presence of the President at the Stadium known to the world giving the aforementioned ‘theory of bad luck’ may suffice that thought.

Eye witness account

“I saw him because(sic) I was still outside when he came at about 12 minutes into the game and left 79 minutes of the game- because I saw him when he was also leaving – he wore a blue kaftan and Green Cap,” a witness account who craved for anonymity told The Informant247.

The source noted that the early goal conceded by Super Eagles could have negated the possibility of Nigerians paying attention to his presence.

“You know when he came, people were already inside and not happy about the early goal they conceded. They were very tensed”.

“I was outside, though I came late, then I was at the Presidential stand to go through with my tag and they said I can’t come through there because it’s meant for the President only that’s coming.

“I can’t go in through the Media and VIP entrances, So, I said okay when the President comes, with my tag, I will go in here,” the source recounted.

The source noted some personalities like the former Governor of Imo State: Rochas Okorocha, Kogi State Governor; Yahaya Bello, Comedians like AY and Bovi were all barred from entering until the President arrived.

“About five minutes to the game, the network went off and we couldn’t tweet and update anything about the match,” said another source

While the aftermath of the game witnessed vandalisation of the Stadium facilities by the fans and spectators alike, there couldn’t have been better way to conclude that President Buhari was at the Stadium and there was an effort not to make his presence known to the world.

Source: The Informant247 Naija News Today

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