Former captain of the Super Eagles, Austin “Jay-Jay” Okocha, has been nominated as the next Minister for Youth and Sports in Nigeria.
Jay Jay Okocha is no stranger to Nigeria’s political terrain, having served as the technical adviser of the youth and sports committee of his home state, Enugu, between 2019 and 2023.
The 1994 Africa Cup of Nations winner with the Nigeria Super Eagles also served as the chairman of the Delta State Football Association.
Both roles exposed him to governance and government policies towards youth and sports development in Nigeria.
The 1996 Atlanta Olympic gold medal winner, who has previously declared his interest in becoming the president of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), is also one of Nigeria’s biggest sports exports. He has served in several capacities within the world football governing body, FIFA, and has also sat on a number of committees set up by the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to deal with various issues pertaining to African football.
His social capital is also at an all-time high, which makes him a leading candidate for the role as he has the needed clout to bring development to Nigeria’s sports terrain, which has suffered from severe mismanagement in the past.
Nigerians are excited about the prospect of Jay-Jay Okocha leading the youth and sports ministry but it has also been confirmed that the list which is circulating around Nigeria news media is speculative.
Ex-Super Eagles stars who have held government roles
Nigeria is still late to the party when it comes to its sporting legends holding significant public offices. Liberia is the biggest example in Africa and the world as their current head of state, President George Weah, is a football legend.
Aside from the 1995 Ballon d’Or winner, former Paris Saint-Germain player Bonaventure Kalou is also serving as the Mayor of the Vavoua region in Ivory Coast, the host of AFCON 2023.
Currently, Nwankwo Kanu is serving as the supervisor of Nigeria Premier League side Enyimba after being appointed by the governor of Abia State, Alex Otti.
In 2020, former Super Eagles striker and manager Daniel Amokachi was appointed as the special assistant on sports to the federal government.
In 2018, legendary Nigerian forward Segun Odegbami declared his intention to become the elected governor of Ogun state at the 2019 elections.
He lost, however, which now makes Jay-Jay Okocha’s possible ministerial appointment the highest role assumed by an ex-Super Eagle in Government.