AFCON Final: Tinubu Cancel Trip to Abidjan, VP Shettima to Stand In


The anticipation that President Bola Tinubu would make history by becoming the first Nigerian President to attend an African Cup of Nations final in 44 years has been dashed.

President Shehu Shagari was present at the National Stadium in Lagos when the national team won the 1980 AFCON tournament on home soil, and he was the last Nigerian President to be in the stands during an AFCON final.

CAF President Patrice Motsepe hinted during a press conference in Abidjan on Friday that President Tinubu will be part of the dignitaries to watch the Super Eagles take on the Elephants in the AFCON 2023 final at the Stade Alassane Ouattara.

He said, “I was told the President of Nigeria is coming,” Motsepe revealed. “I was sitting next to the Vice President (Kashim Shettima) during the Nigeria-South Africa game. While I can’t show excitement when any nation scores, they said they could see my happiness. And yes, I am always happy!”

However, a statement issued by the State House on Saturday revealed a fresh development.

“President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, GCFR, has directed Vice President Kashim Shettima to lead a presidential team to the finals of the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Cote d’Ivoire,” presidential spokesperson Ajuri Ngelale wrote.

The vice president had also represented the president at the semi-final, when the Super Eagles defeated South Africa in a pulsating encounter to book a final place against the host country, Cote d’Ivoire, at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Abidjan on Sunday, 11 February.

The match will rekindle memories of Nigeria’s 1-0 victory in the group stage, secured through Captain William Troost-Ekong’s penalty.

The statement continued: “Recognising the unifying power of football and the immense role the Super Eagles play in fostering national pride and unity, the President, His Excellency, Bola Ahmed Tinubu, believes that Vice President Shettima’s presence at the finals alongside the delegation is a testament to the government’s unwavering support for the team and its dedication to their success.

“The Federal Government calls on all Nigerians, both at home and abroad, to unite in support of the Super Eagles, and to raise their voices in encouragement, and create a wave of national pride that propels the team to glory.”

Aside from the vice president gracing the game against South Africa’s Bafana, the Ogun State Governor, Dapo Abiodun, and his Bayelsa counterpart, Douye Diri, were also in Bouake for the semi-final game.

In the quarter-final game, Senate President Godswill Akpabio was present along with Labour Party 2023 presidential candidate Peter Obi, among many other politicians.

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