Having served the Nigeria Football and other sports supporters club for years as Secretary-General, Rev. Samuel Ikpea was recently voted as the National Chairman of Supporters Club.
He has intentions to introduce reforms and bring change into the over 61 years old supporters club.
Apart from presiding over matters that concern the club he also preaches the gospel at Assembly of Faithfuls Church in Lagos, Nigeria.
Simply put, the National Chairman of Nigeria’s Football and other sports supporters club is a spirit-filled man.
In this interview with FEMI FABUNMI, Rev. Samuel Ikpea speaks on his ascension from Secretary-General to National Chairman of the club plus other related issues. Excerpts.
How would you describe the handing over of the National Stadium to Lagos State Govt.?
It is a very good development, I am sure the Lagos State Government will do a good job on it. And even we supporters club will benefit from it, many of our members reside here. You will agree with me that once this stadium is fixed football will return to Lagos and Supporters Club won’t have to travel everytime to watch our darling Super Eagles. Truth is it is not always convenient travelling to support our teams.
Do you think that the refurbishment of the National Stadium in Lagos will bring back lost glory in sports?
National Stadium is beautiful, anytime you come here you see activities going on here and there, so I am sure by the time it is refurbished it will improve our sports.
How do you intend to use your office to improve Nigeria Supporters Club?
One of my cardinal points during campaign is to introduce reforms that will help improve the supporters club. I am not going to focus on the supportership alone, for instance now we have missed out of two consecutive Nations Cup, truth is when there is no football what do you want to support. I am looking at investing on grassroot football and some other areas, this way we can bring lost glory days of Nigeria football.
You overcame turbulent times before becoming the Chairman of Nigeria Football and Sports Supporters Club, how did you do it?
I must confess it was very tough before I could overcome all obstacles that came my way. I give God all the glory. Also I want to thank members of Supporters Club worldwide for reposing great confidence in me.
This shows they appreciate the good works I have been doing when I served as Secretary-General of the Club.
What new things should we expect from you?
Expect new things, new level, our target is to go beyond just supportership. Nothing stops us from even arranging friendly matches for Super Eagles, because we have all it takes to do that. We will also look at delving into football administration, I know quite alright that it sounds somehow difficult but with time, committment and dedication we shall get there.
What exactly would you want to change at the supporters club?
Firstly, I would love to change our mode of supportership. In the past Supporters Club gave their best whenever there was a match going on. I will ensure that we go back to our style of supportership. The era of lazying around is over, we will ensure we sing, dance and clap when it is necessary.
Secondly, I will ensure that this new supporters club members do not get to pay through their noses just to go and represent their country. Anytime they want to travel, sponsors will be on ground to help out. We will re-brand the club in such a way that it will attract sponsors.
What measures have you put in place to ensure Nigeria Football and other sports supporters club attract sponsors?
Well, the process of attracting sponsors is going on as we speak. Just that sponsors also want to get back in return what they have put their money into.
Tell us the duration of your tenure and how long you intend to stay?
That question is a little bit difficult. It is God that will determine how long a man can stay in a position. As long as the constitution allows for chairmanship I will be there.
What does the constitution say?
The constitution only allows 2 terms of 8 years.
There is this speculation flying around that there are factions in the club?
As far as Nigeria Football Supporters Club is concerned we do not have faction. Those people who claim to be faction are just bunch of people who involve in anti-club activities.
The general public should not see them as faction but distractors. At Nigeria Football and other Sports Supporters Club we are one big family. The constitution allows aggrieved party to seek redress in court. What I am saying in essence is that anybody that feels bad or cheated should approach the court of law, let nobody come to cause chaos at the club.
Nigeria’s next AFCON game is against Cameroon, they will play them back to back, how do you intend to storm the venues of these matches?
We have been in this business for long and so we are not shaken. My advice for the Super Eagles is that they should approach the game with all seriousness, they can be assured that supporters club will give them all needed support both in Nigeria and in Cameroon.
You are a reverend, what church do you attend and minister?
I attend and minister at the Assembly of Faithfuls Church, Maryland in Lagos.
What part of Nigeria are you from?
I am an Ewu boy, that tells you I hail from Edo State.
Tell us briefly about yourself?
Well I am Rev Samuel Ikpea, I am the Chairman of Skysports Newspaper as well as the CEO of SAMDEB Global Concepts.