By Clement Nwankpa Jnr
If veteran Sports commentator Ernest Okonkwo were alive, what nicknames would he have given to this generation of Nigerian footballers? He it was who nicknamed Christian Chukwu ‘Chairman’; Adokiye Amaesiemeka ‘Chief Justice’; Segun Odegbami ‘Mathematical’; Aloysius Atuegbu ‘Blockburster’; Emmanuel Okala ‘Man Mountain’; Felix Owolabi ‘Owoblow’ etc. Then he would describe Emmanuel Osuigwe’s shot as ‘intercontinental ballistic missile’.
Those were days when Radio Nigeria’s live broadcasts of league and other national teams’ matches gave life to football and fed the public passion for it.
Nigerian football lovers had been denied that experience for a couple of decades now but there is good news. Those moments are set to be revived with the recent MoU signed between the League Management Company (LMC) and Radio Nigeria.
Under the agreement, Radio Nigeria would broadcast live NPFL match commentaries with real time, on-the-spot cross venue reports, analyses, chats, news and information of the league across its wide network of stations spread across every state and major cities and towns of the country.
No doubt this should be another boost to the gains recorded by NPFL last season.
Speaking at the MoU signing event held at the LMC Corporate Office in Maitama, Abuja, Fred Edoreh, whose company, Westcoast Projects Ltd, brokered the deal, was elated at being involved in the historic venture. His words; “We have been working on this for a while and I was positive it was going to work. Nigerian football was sold by Radio Nigeria. We are happy to have them back to deepen and widen the reach of the league.”
LMC Chairman, Shehu Dikko was ecstatic. He said; “Today opens another vista for NPFL. I grew up listening to Nigerian league on radio. We even recorded the commentaries from radio to play back at school. With this (the MoU) are taking the league to every nook and cranny of Nigeria, to the eclectic urban population, the inner cities and remote farmlands and fishing settlements. Everybody can follow the league anywhere they are. This will bring players closer to the people and the fans back to the stadia. With this we will also create more jobs. This goes beyond football. We are trying to boost our economy and add to our GDP.”
Director General, Federal Radio Corpiration of Nigeria (FRCN), Mansur Liman, reiterated his establishment’s desire to add value to the NPFL. “Radio Nigeria is the biggest network in Africa. You can imagine how far this will go. Football belongs to the people. With this, we are taking football back to the people in fulfillment of our social mandate to uplift and unite the people in nation building. I will commend the LMC for the transformation in our league. We are building on the successes recorded by the league in recent years. It’s a win-win situation. Through football we will bring back the credibility of our organization”, he pointed out.
So the days of robust radio commentaries on our league are back. How would the commentators have described the two beautiful goals scored by Rangers’ Chisom Egbuchulam against Rivers United at the Super 4? What nickname would they accord former Enyimba captain and Pillars new rock in defense, Chinedu Udorji? What sobriquet would the sleek passing Lobi midfielder Raphael Ayagwa draw? How would they now qualify the petit but ubiquitous Ifeanyi Onuwa of MFM? What of the canons of Nasarawa United’s Esosa Igbinoba and Enyimba’s Dare Ojo? How would they now capture Rangers keeper Nana Bonsu’s penalty stopping heroics or the gangling striker Abdulahi Alhassan ‘Mazzam’ now with Akwa United?
Soon the fans would get accustomed to these names. There is hardly a Nigerian home without a radio. It’s in the cars, buses, roadside, in your pocket, your phone…With the radio, there are no boundaries, not even power failure. Radio Nigeria should comb the nooks and crannies of the nation, preach the gospel of the NPFL and bring the fans to the match venues.
The return of the mic is a star attraction for the new season.