On Saturday, June 21st 2014, the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Southwest Zonal Office, Lagos Nigeria organised a Novelty Football Match, at the Onikan Stadium; with a team of celebrities and NCFRMI staff taking on a team of Refugees from Mali, Cote D’ivoire, Central African Republic and Sudan.
The celebrities in attendance were led by Voice of NCFRMI – Nikki Laoye, Sammie Okposo and veteran dancer and choreographer Muyiwa Osinaike. The match was also attended by the Honourable Federal Commissioner of the NCFRMI, Hajiya Hadiza Sani Kangiwa, who performed the ceremonial kick-off of the match.
The match was keenly contested as the Refugee Team played with much gusto and skill, scores ended at 7 – 5, in favour of the Refugee Team, with Nikki Laoye and Sammie Okposo recording their names on the score sheet with two (2) well taken goals. In her remarks, the Honorable Federal Commissioner, extolled the skills of the players in the Refugee Team, noting that some of them were good enough to play for professional football teams, she furthermore indicated that the Commission would look into the possibility of inviting talent scouts to evaluate some of the players.
Nikki Laoye in her remarks, expressed her excitement at the notion behind the novelty match which promotes unity and further extends a hand of fellowship and acceptance to the refugees in Nigeria. She also thanked her colleagues who honoured the invitation to take part in the Novelty Match. She further encouraged the Refugees by saying “despite all you’ve been through, stand strong and stay focused on building a new life for yourselves. Keep praying and trusting God, He will provide all you need”.
Music veteran Sammie Okposo, also articulated his appreciation at being able to give back to the society, noting that he had no idea that Nigeria had a proper agency which cared for Refugees and Internally displaced persons; and as a goodwill message, he encouraged the refugees and IDPs stating that “it is not a good thing to be displaced, but for whatever reason you are displaced, there is an umbrella here, so if you run in here (NCFRMI), you are well covered as far as Nigeria is concerned”.
Nollywood actress, Judith Audu, who was also in attendance, commended the initiative, stating that “it is always good to do things like this for the refugees, as it gives them a sense of belonging and lets them know that they have a family here in Nigeria, I particularly enjoyed watching Sammie Okposo and Nikki Laoye score goals each”.
Asides from the football match, the National Commission for Refugees, Migrants and Internally Displaced Persons (NCFRMI), Southwest Zonal Office had earlier organized a symposium, which held at the Exhibition Hall of the National Museum on Wednesday the 18th of June 2014, with the theme: A Minute’s thought for the Displaced and Oppressed. The keynote lecture was given by Professor Epiphany Azinge (SAN), the immediate past Director-General of the Nigerian Institute for Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) while Voice of NCFRMI, Nikki Laoye delivered an address and perfomance of her hope themed song, “Joy Comes”.
The World Refugee Day is Celebrated on the 20th of June every year.
Check out pictures from the event below