By Jude Atupulazi
A former Rangers Football Club player, Sylvanus Okpala, has lauded the efforts of the immediate past Anambra governor, Mr Peter Obi, in promoting sports in Nigeria and also supporting the former Rangers players financially and otherwise.
Okpala, who spoke to Journslists in Enugu, praised Obi for his nationalist spirit, noting that Obi cared for all ex-Rangers players, irrespective of their tribal definition. He said Obi had always been a fan of Rangers Football Club and thus, started promoting their welfare when he became a governor, and even continued caring for them after he left office.
‘He started paying stipends to ex-Rangers players every month; about a hundred of us or so; the number he could get. And he was paying not only to the Igbos who played for Rangers, not only the Anambrarians who played for Rangers, but everybody. You have some people who come from South West and some people from the North, who played for Rangers. Their names are there and they are all beneficiaries of Obi’s largesse.
‘He has been of tremendous assistance to us and provided us with an office in Enugu and gave us a brand new bus that can take over twenty people, Okpala said.
He further recounted that beyond the material gifts, Obi also always gave them moral support.
‘Obi gave us a lot of exposure and recognition. During his days as governor, he invited us to anything he did. On one occasion, we had to sleep over when we couldn’t go back. He lodged us in a hotel. I think that was when he inaugurated Onitsha Stadium.
‘I don’t think he was doing it for us alone. I believe he did the same for others too. He may not like what I am saying but I feel, for him to continue doing what he has been doing for us deserves commendation. His kindness is overwhelming. Even when any one of us loses a brother, sister or any relation; or you are doing anything and he hears about it, he will appear. He is too kind to us,’ Okpala, popularly known as Hafia in his active days, said.