The President of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Alhaji Aminu Maigari yesterday joined President Goodluck Jonathan, GCFR, Vice President Namadi Sambo, Secretary to Government of the Federation, Senator Anyim Pius Anyim, Sports Minister, Dr. Tammy Danagogo and other prominent Nigerians in endorsing the new HIV awareness initiative tagged ‘Protect the Goal’ campaign.
The event, which took place at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa, Abuja, underscored Nigeria’s support for the programme, which aims at zero new infections, zero discrimination and zero AIDS-related deaths.
Coordinated by the National Agency for Control of Aids, the campaign has as partners the UNAIDS, UNFPA, the National Sports Commission and the Nigeria Football Federation.
At the event, President Jonathan acknowledged the power of sport for social change. “Sports, especially football has immense unifying power. Even before becoming the President, I have been involved in the fight against the AIDS scourge.
“The Super Eagles of Nigeria will be the Ambassadors for this campaign. We are with the team and will support them to bring glory to Nigeria and the whole of Africa at the FIFA World Cup finals in Brazil.”
“Football is a potent weapon to drive messages universally, to make a point and to unify peoples across regions and religions.
“On our part, we have decided to align with this United Nations initiative and also with the Nigerian vision of zero new infections and to encourage testing at the various testing sites set up during this period,” Maigari said.
Dr. Djibril Diallo, who represented the Executive Director of UNAIDS at the programme, invited President Jonathan to the campaign’s big launch in Salvador du Bahia, Brazil on June 9, and then presented the ball for the President to sign.
The same ball had earlier been signed by Presidents Jacob Zuma and Paul Biya of South Africa and Cameroon respectively.
The ball will move across the different continents to be signed by Presidents and Prime Ministers of all 32 nation taking part in the World Cup finals, but Diallo said: “The Super Eagles are the faces of the campaign, because they are first among equals!”
Also at the event were Super Eagles’ stars Azubuike Egwuekwe and Ejike Uzoenyi. They were later joined at the press conference that followed at the National Stadium, by Super Falcons’ captain, Evelyn Nwabuoku.