✕ CLOSE Online Special City News Entrepreneurship Environment Factcheck Everything Woman Home Front Islamic Forum Life Xtra Property Travel & Leisure Viewpoint Vox Pop Women In Business Art and Ideas Bookshelf Labour Law Letters
Click Here To Listen To Trust Radio Live

Isyaku Ibrahim: Why I spent millions to sponsor Mighty Jets of Jos

Business tycoon, politician and football enthusiast, Alhaji Isyaku Ibrahim who hails from Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State spoke to SHOT! on why he…

Business tycoon, politician and football enthusiast, Alhaji Isyaku Ibrahim who hails from Wamba Local Government Area of Nasarawa State spoke to SHOT! on why he spent millions of naira to sponsor the once dreaded Mighty Jets Football Club of Jos. He said he derived joy while supporting the youths in those days to play football.

What would you say motivated you to sponsor the once famous Mighty Jets football club of Jos?

In 1970, I was approached by some top officials of the club like Garba Okoyo and his friend Okibo who met me in Lagos and called on me to support the club. To convince me, they explained how Stationery Stores of Lagos was thriving as a privately owned club. They told me that it will be of immense benefit to the club and them, if I would accept to take over the sponsorship of the club which was among the most formidable up north. I assured them that I would do as they wanted. I then went to Jos and sat down with them to discuss their plans for the football club and how we would empower the teeming youths of Jos. We decided to put in place structures to produce a club that would fly the country’s flag in international competitions.

Nigerians would like to know the things you did to transform the club and place it among the most prominent clubs in the early 70s. What exactly did you do to make Mighty Jets a dreaded side? 

It will interest Nigerians to know that I was the first to hire a foreign coach from Brazil for a club side in Nigeria. I also bought for the team a new luxury bus and it was the first club to have such type of a bus in Nigeria. When the expatriate coach came, I provided the enabling environment for him to work. Within a short time, he successfully transformed Mighty Jets a local club to a strong team that competed favourably with other clubs within and outside Nigeria. Mighty Jets became the toast of football fans as it produced some of the greatest football players to come out of Nigeria.

What were the major achievements of Mighty Jets during your time?

I am happy to say that during my time, Mighty Jets Football Club became the first team in Nigeria to win the Nigerian league in 1972. Mighty Jets reached the second round of the African Cup of Champions Club in 1973. Jets also featured in the CAF Winners Cup in 1975 but did not cross the first round.

Could you recall exactly what happened after Mighty Jets triumphed over their opponents in the Africa Cup of Champions Club competition in Ouagadougou on penalties? 

(Laughter) It was mixed feeling really. We went to play against a club in Upper Volta now Burkina Faso in the African Cup of Champions Club competition after we had defeated a Cameroonian club in the first round. In Ouagadougou, after the full 90 minutes, there was no winner and the match was to be decided on penalty shootout. Unfortunately, there was no electricity to power the flood lights. The organizers mobilized some youth who gathered firewood and burnt it to provide light for the kicks to be taken and in the end, we won. They were angry and started singing war songs. They followed us to the hotel where we lodged and continued to threaten us. It was not possible to sleep that night. Very early the following day, we went to the airport and the pilot who later became an Air-vice Marshall, Abdul Bello flew us back to Nigeria. We passed through difficult time but we were consoled by the victory.

 What did you benefit by investing your time and personal resources in sponsoring the club? Was there personal gains?

 It is important for me to say that by accepting to sponsor Mighty Jets, I was not looking for any personal gains. Football was not financially rewarding as it is these days. So everything I did was to empower the youths, catch fun and ensure that the north also have a formidable club representing it in football. There were other clubs like IICC Shooting Stars of Ibadan and Stationary Stores of Lagos representing the west. Although there was nothing like live telecast of such matches, Mighty Jets became so popular in Nigeria and that was my greatest satisfaction. I am still happy that I played a great role in building such a football club. 

In the process of building Mighty Jets FC, did you take the team on international playing tours?

I cannot recall all the countries we visited to play international friendly matches but I remember that I took them to Russia for them to have a feel of European football. It was a rewarding experience. 

Apart from the Brazilian you hired for the club, did you do anything to upgrade the indigenous coaches you met on ground?

I wanted the best for the club and that was why I went as far as hiring a foreign coach for the club. So I did not stop at that. I sponsored the local coaches to go for refresher courses in Europe. They became better coaches and that impacted positively on the club.

At what stage did you withdraw from the club you sponsored with great passion?

As you know, nothing lasts forever so when I had achieved my heart desires, I told them that I will not have enough time for the club again. Moreover, we had started politics that led to the election of my colleague Alhaji Shehu Usman Aliyu Shagari. So there was actually no time for me to remain committed to the club. I am however happy that the seeds we planted are still producing fruits as Mighty Jets FC has refused to go out of existence. 

VERIFIED: It is now possible to live in Nigeria and earn salary in US Dollars with premium domains, you can earn as much as $12,000 (₦18 Million).
Click here to start.