Stephen Keshi’s Death: Family, Delta Sports Commission, Govt React

keshiThe family of Late former Super Eagles’ player and Coach, Stephen Keshi has expressed shock over the death of the Nigerian sports legend.

At the family compound in Illah, Oshimili North Local Government Area of Delta State, the mood of the people was pensive, as one of the family members, Mr Ogbuenyi Iwediebo and Mr Rapu Onwordi said that Keshi was missed by all of them.

The family also said the funeral arrangements would soon be made known.

Reacting to the news, the Executive Chairman, Delta Sate Sports Commission, Mr Tony Okowa, eulogised Keshi, saying his contribution to the growth of football in Nigeria was unequalled.

Meanwhile, the Delta State Governor, Senator Ifeanyi Okowa, has described the sudden demise of former Super Eagles Player and Coach, Stephen Keshi as tragic and a monumental loss to football in Nigeria, Africa and the entire world.

The Governor in a tribute contained in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Charles Ehiedu Aniagwu, extolled the leadership qualities and sterling contributions of the former Super Eagles Captain and Coach to the growth and development of football in Nigeria and Africa.

According to Governor Okowa, the sterling contributions of Mr Keshi to the development of football in Nigeria and Africa was legendary, commendable and worthy of emulation.

“Keshi is a great patriot and achiever, having led Nigeria to win the African Nations Cup twice as a player and Coach.

“On behalf of the government and people of Delta State, I commiserate with the family of the late Stephen Keshi, and the entire football loving fans in Nigeria over the demise of the late Super Eagles former Captain and Coach.

“The remarkable achievements recorded by the Nigeria Super Eagles in 1994 and 2013 were unarguably due to his indefatigable role as the Captain and Coach of the Super Eagles in those glorious years culminating in the winning of the African Nations Cup,” the Governor stated.

Buhari To Honour Outstanding Athletes On January 21

Buhari  to honour athletes Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, is set to honour all athletes that won different medals for the nation in various international sporting tournaments in 2015.

The Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, confirmed that the President would host the athletes at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Thursday, January 21.

Among those yet to be rewarded are the Golden Eaglets of 1985, who were promised houses for winning the maiden edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in China and the current FIFA U-17 world champions.

Others are the victorious national men’s Basketball team who won the 2015 FIBA Africa Basketball Championship in Tunisia, Team Nigeria at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa, and World Scrabble Champion, Wellington Jighere.

In November last year, President Buhari assured the 1985 batch of Golden Eaglets that his administration would fulfill the promises made 30 years ago.

The promises were made during a reception held at Dodan Barracks with the players, in celebration of their outstanding victory.

In a statement on November 10 by a spokesman for the President, Mr Garba Shehu, Buhari said it had been brought to his attention that a directive which he gave to the state governments at the time had not been complied with.

“It is a pity that those promises were never fulfilled,” he said.

I Will Not Congratulate Kano Pillars – Delta FA Chairman

The Chairman of Delta State Football Association, Amaju Pinnick, on Monday said that he would not congratulate the champions of the Nigeria Premier League, Kano Pillars, adding that he  respects the club but does not believe in “winning at all costs.”

Pinnick, who was speaking on Sunrise Daily, commented on a number of football-related issues particularly those involving poor media coverage of league matches, lack of credibility of Nigerian referees and Coach Keshi’s unpaid salaries.

The Kano Pillars have been celebrated for emerging winners at the recently concluded Nigerian Premier League.

Pinnick stated that although he respects the Kano Pillars for its huge investments in the players and entire club, he will not congratulate the club on winning the League and alleged that the club must have been involved in shady activities.

‘Winning must not come at all costs,” he said, adding that, there are a lot of dirty things in the league.

On the overall planning and execution of the League, the Delta FA boss commended the League Management Committee, LMC, for rescuing the league from a hopeless situation as there were no sponsors in its last two seasons.

He praised the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, leadership as well as the Sports Minister for assisting the committee to redefine the league but he raised issues of ‘hooliganism and terrible officiating.’

However, he averred that a functional synergy between the Nigeria Football Federation (NFA) and the LMC will bring a lasting solution to the problems facing the league.

He advocated that LMC be given more powers to enforce discipline in the league and in the teams which would stem the issue of hooliganism among players.

“The media coverage was also poor as up to 10 teams in a league do not have their games covered especially in the North, including Bayelsa United and Nembe City.”

“If Super Sports cannot go to those areas because of the security issues then it means players and officials cannot equally go to those places.”

Credible Referees

Pinnick also asked that LMC be given the authority to discipline referees as well because the questionable credibility of Nigerian referees is not only affecting the league but it reflects poorly on Nigeria’s image in the international football community.

“We are going to the World Cup. Nigeria will be struggling to bring one referee because of the credibility of Nigerian referees whereas countries such as Cape Verde, Burundi will have referees in such big games.

He disclosed that the President is keen on addressing the issue because it is also affecting him.

The committee will soon begin a ‘Friday Night Football,’ ‘Saturday Morning Football’ and ‘Monday Night Football’ programmes to encourage viewership.

On Keshi’s Salaries

He explained that a slash in the ministry’s budget may have resulted in the delay in Keshi’s salary and called on the National Sports Commission, Coach Keshi, as well as the leadership of the NFF to engage in dialogue as delayed pay will not motivate Keshi.

He also warned that such situation “can lead to other dirty things” such as players disrespecting coaches for collecting money from them.

“When you are not being paid, you must look for money to take care of your family,” he added.

He touched on other issues including the NFF President who he said should be commended for exceptional leadership.