YEARS after their deaths, the sports Minister, Mr. Sunday Dare recently extended succors to the families of late footballers, Raheed Yekini and Sam Okwaraji. Both played for the country’s national team, the Super Eagles. While Okwaraji died in active service, while playing for the country on August 12, 1989 in World Cup qualifier match against Angola, Yekini died few years after his retirement.
THE duo were masters in their departments of play. Okwaraji a LLM in Law Degree was a midfield maestro while Yekini scored Nigeria’s first goal at the World Cup.
ACCORDING to the minister who was represented by one of his aides at the country home of Yekini, Ijagbo, Kwara State, the ministry will hence forth place mothers of former Super Eagles stars, Yekini and Okwaraji on a monthly stipend of N10, 000.
THE Football house, Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, has also queued into Mr. Dare’s initiative. The NFF via it’s official twitter handle said “In furtherance to, and in appreciation of, the recent pronouncement of the HM Sports to put the mothers of late ex-internationals, Sam Okwaraji and Rashidi Yekini on a monthly stipend, the NFF has decided to support this noble initiative with a further monthly stipend of N30k to each of the two matriarchs.” In addition, the NFF will henceforth review the situation of surviving mothers of our ex-internationals that died in active service for the country and resolve what to do for them on monthly basis.”
THE stories of the duo, though painful, personified the unfortunate and parlous states of Nigeria’s sports men who have put the country in the global sports map. We recall that most of the heroes like, Emmanuel Okala, Kadiri Ikhana Best Ogedegbe, Peter Fregene, and Christian Chukwu are having series of health challenges in which the country should ideally provide solutions to.
TODAY, Fregene who was in goal for Nigeria at the Mexico Olympics in 1968 where the team held Brazil to a two-two draw can hardly walk. The ”flying cat” as he was fondly called is paralysed from waist down to his legs. Also, Peter Anieke, aka, Eusebio, a man deadly on the field of play is down with illness
BUT for the timely intervention of businessman, Femi Otedola, the story of ailing Christian Chukwu, Green Eagles captain that won the African Nations Cup in 1980 and national coach would not have been different from that of Fregene.
THOSE living like Mathematician Segun Odegbami and Sunday Ewodage disclosed that they are going through pains of thigh muscle
LITTLE wonder, players like Tammy Abraham, Gabriel Agbonlahun and several others footballers who would have wore the country colours have turned their back to the Super Eagles owing mainly to experiences of former players who are left in the lurch to face their health challenges without assistance.
WE are therefore delighted that Mr. Dare could even deem it fit to extend succor to the families of the deceased who had long been forgotten. His actions are rays of hope that at last the labours of the past heroes are afterall not forgotten.
WE advise Mr. Dare to go further by sending a legislation through the Federal Executive Council to the National Assembly instituting a trust fund for the welfare of ex-Nigeria’s Sports men and women. This we believe would go a long way at solving challenges being confronted by former athletics.
WE also suggest that government should institute an endowment programme that would be paying monthly stipends to the athletes as it is done in normal clime.