Nothing could be more disturbing, terrifying and condemnable than watching our and sports heroes and heroines dying in vain after they have contributed their quota to the sports development of their country; Nigeria and Africa as a whole.
A critical look at the whole scenario, one will be forced to jump into conclusion that the leadership of our nation, Nigeria needs to be checked and put right back on the track as they have all gone astray.
If the leaders knows what to to do at the right time, all our sports heroes and heroines who had at one time or the other brought honour and dignity to their father land will not be left in the lurch. Those who’re reading this missive will agree with me that so many things had gone wrong in Nigeria. Imagine the sports industry that used to be bedrock of entertainment in Nigeria being relegated to the background.
The corruption which is the major problem is eating even more deeper more than one can imagine into the society’s fabric. The government and the sports administrators contributed hugely to the rotten in the system with their lackadaisical attitude which has brought disgrace and unwarranted bashing both within and outside the country all at the detriment of our youths.
Although, the much talked about corruption did not just spring up today, it’s an age long syndrome that found its way into the system through “good-turned-bad eggs” civil servants and politicians who were given the opportunity to serve their fatherland but instead see that as an avenue to milk the nation dry.
Why won’t these athletes change the allegiance to other countries of their choice when they’re no longer seen as a worthy ambassadors that should be hold in high esteem. The money set aside by government and corporate sponsors which is meant for their welfare are often times siphon and end up in the fixed deposit account and remain there till thy kingdom come.
The most disgusting aspect of it is that when anyone of them get injured serving their fatherland, they’re subjected to all sorts of ill-treatment which has caused many of them their careers. Like the acronym that goes with it “OYO lo wa” meaning “you’re on your own”.
The situation is so pathetic and discouraging in our own part of the world that most of these athletes are no longer giving their best not for any other reason but for the fear of injury and abandonment. Sam Okwaraji died on the pitch in 1989 while on duty for his country, Nigeria against Cameroun in a tension soaked world cup qualifying match.
Apart from his tomb stone that is conspicuous at the entrance of National Stadium in Lagos, nothing else has been done in memorial of the fallen hero.
His family has been living in penury ever since. The sports ministry that is in best position to do the needful by advising the federal government on policies that will see to the welfare of family members left behind lost it. The central government that’s supposed to be at the forefront become “a back-bencher”.
If not for the former governor of Lagos state, Babatunde Raji Fashola who out of his love for sports and his country decided to refurbish the Sam Okwaraji garden at the Lagos National stadium as well as putting smiles on the faces of Okwaraji’s family, as far as federal government is concerned, Sam Okwaraji is gone and gone for good.
And for Kanu Nwankwo, I think he was lucky and patriotic enough to still find it cool and sensible to play for Nigeria after being diagnosed with heart related disease right here in Nigeria. I cannot remember what their role in helping the 1996 Atlanta hero was before he was signed by the coach of Arsenal football club of England, Arsene Wenger who gave him all the necessary support to become who he is today.
The same thing happened when Best Ogedengbe was hospitalized, the Oyo state did all they could to salvage the situation while the federal government walked in when the situation became unbearable. It was after his death that they started eulogizing his valour. Edward Ansah, Samuel Ojebode, Yomi Bankole and so many others numerous to mention had their own taste of bitter pills. No federal government representatives came to see or give their supports.
Even in the recent time, the duo of former Super Eagles managers, coach Amodu Shuaibu and Stephen Okechukwu Keshi were being owed huge amount of money. Those who are owing them are not talking about the modality of paying the money to the deceased families. It was even reported recently that the family of Amodu Shuaibu were ejected from their rented apartment in Surulere, Lagos and take refuge in one uncompleted and dilapidated building somewhere in the suburb of Lagos. What a nation!
What has Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) done in this regard to help the family of the late coaches they’re owing? Why is federal government silent, insensitive about its citizens who sacrificed what they have all in a bid to give their best to their loved country?
Why are they celebrating the dead and not the living whom they should have given the supports while alive?
If the stanza in the national anthem of Nigeria is anything to go by that the “labour of our heroes’ past should never be in vain” then, the federal government of Nigeria should as matter of urgency start paying attention to every details of its citizenry regardless of their profession or ethnic background. If not, it’s advisable to have that particular stanza re-carved to reflect the proper attitudinal of present Nigeria nation.
It’s a known fact that if the government at the center had keyed in to rehabilitate the Ira born 1994 world cup hero, Rashidi Yekini, he might not have died prematurely and even if the worst happened, it will be in record that federal government tried its best. Even at the moment, where, when and what has government put in place as a policy to alleviate the mental and psychological scars that often rear its head when situation of such occur?
Another Super Eagles hero, Wilson Oruma is presently going through harrowing experience after he was reportedly duped by his pastor in 2012. Although, reports has it that some good spirited Nigerians and friends have been supporting the Delta born Nigeria midfielder right from the time the incident happened back then but the situation became unbearable when the sickness relapsed.
A fortnight ago, former Nigeria International, Raymond King died as a result of inadequate care where and when necessary. It was Emetole late last year.
When the Argentine hero, Diego Amando Maradona was caught up between the red-blue sea, he was neither rejected nor abandoned by his people. The Argentina government took up the case and rallied round him, gave him all the necessary supports and today, the rest is history.
The Mexico ’86 world cup hero has regained his sanity and he is now a coach in his chosen field doing fine. It is better for the leaders of our country to look inward and be steadfast in their respective duties to the development of the people and the society at large and stop paying lips service at the detriment of their own people.
All the three tiers of government, the Federal, the state and local government, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and all other sports federations as a matter of urgency must put their acts together to ensure the right things are done at the right time.
Bringing up a suitable policies like National Sports Funds that will take care of our athletes in need right from the youths till they join their ancestor will not be a crime as this will not only give them hope of survival but will also give the next generation of athletes the assurance that they can serve their fatherland without fear.
Advising them to invest their money when they’re hale health is another are the federal government need to address so a s to give room for healthy lifestyle thereby cutting out unnecessary msidemeanour life after sports career.
However, appreciating and celebrating them as and when due especially while they’re alive is more reasonable and appropriate than when they are dead. By so doing, our athletes will remain ‘ours’ and remain committed to their fatherland contributing in their own little way to the growth and development of the country.