Former Nigeria captain John Obi Mikel is one of many Super Eagles players who have pitched in with donations of all kinds as their country grapples with the coronavirus pandemic.
Nigeria’s large population has been hard hit by the nationwide lockdown, announced by the government in mid-March and recently extended by President Muhammad Buhari.
Mikel, who owns a farm that includes a poultry, distributed crates of fresh eggs to families in the area, saying on Instagram: “Helping people to survive in these difficult times, my team distributed 1800 crates of fresh eggs to some of the poorest areas in Nigeria close to the farm.
“Let’s all try to help one another in this global crisis in any way possible.”
Others to help out have been Super Eagles captain Ahmed Musa, Nantes forward Moses Simon, Kelechi Iheanacho of Leicester City, and Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo, along with Samuel Kalu, John Ogu, Henry Onyekuru, and Ogenyi Onazi.
Moses Simon was the first to get the ball rolling. The former Levante man, who was born and raised in the northern city of Kaduna, took to social media to give away cash donations of N5000 each to randomly selected residents of the city.
That amount, N5000, works out to roughly 13 US dollars, which doesn’t seem like much. But in Nigeria, that is roughly a third of a month’s minimum wage salary. N200 can buy a person a meal at a cheap restaurant.
He told ESPN: “I was getting messages on social media with people telling me about how they were suffering there.
“And I have lived there, my parents are there so I know how hard it can be for the most needy people. My original plan was to give N5000 each to 400 people. I ended up giving more.
“I called them in Kaduna and they told me that what they received from the government was three small packs of noodles. And I saw a video of a woman picking rice from the ground.
“I felt it in my heart. Most of these people live from hand to mouth on their daily sales. If they can’t go out to do business [due to the lockdown], how would they eat?”
Musa, who is already well known known for his philanthropy, donated hundreds of bags of rice that were distributed to people in Kano, one of Nigeria’s northern cities.
Midfielder Ogu also went the cash route, doling out in excess of N1million via giveaways of N10 000 each to randomly selected people on social media.
Galatasaray forward Henry Onyekuru was one of those who went with food items, including bags of rice, cartons of noodles and other basic necessities.
Midfielder Ogenyi Onazi opted for money, like Simon and Ogu, telling ESPN: “These are our people. We understand what there are going through because many of us do not come from rich backgrounds.
“We may not have much, but the little we can do to help those in our community, I think we should do it and I am happy that many of my teammates are doing it.
“Not everybody can be helped, but if all of us can help those close to us, at least it will be something.”
Nigeria currently has 1932 confirmed coronavirus cases, with 58 deaths.