You see mostly of these men in the picture. Especially those whose faces are less significant. They’ve been long forgotten. The likes of; Abiodun Obafemi, Jayjay Okocha, Celestine Babayaro, Daniel Amokachi, Emmanuel Amuneke, Emmanuel Babayaro, Garba Lawal, Joseph Dosu, Nwankwo Kanu, Kingsley Obiekwu, Mobi Obaraku, Uche Okechukwu, Sunday Oliseh, Taribo West, Teslim Fatusi, Tijani Babangida, Victor Ikpeba, and Wilson Oruma were all waiting to be remembered the Nigerian way (when you would have to die before a symposium is organised in your name, a street named after you, and possibly a postmortem national honor/award).
Late Rashidi Yekini wasn’t as lucky as any of the above. The Nigerian all time goal scorer with 58 appearances and 37 goals from 1984-1998, was forgotten and left to die all alone. He died from complications from mental health, majorly, bipolar disorder. He was later diagnosed with depression and died far back 2012 at age 48. As expected, he was given a national honor, a street was named after him, and everyone moved on.
Not every Nigerian hero would be lucky to be celebrated alive like the Atlanta’96 squad. Not all our heros past would receive a standing ovation with their eyes wide open, and not a lifeless body laying in a casket. Jayjay Okocha couldn’t get the Super Eagle Coach job even after applying twice. While in Qatar, a street was named after him and many idolizing him as god.
I don’t know who is advising Governor Yahaya Bello of Kogi State, and I wouldn’t care to know. All I know is that he is the kind of Leader that should be emulated and talked about. Ask any of these Atlanta’96 folks, and many would tell you they weren’t expecting to be shown these amounts of love. They’re all still alive. All intact. Even their coach had to be flown into the country for this novelty match in honor of these heros.
This should be a big deal for everyone with the good interest of the country at heart. As I believe it is high time we eradicate the behavior of celebrating only the dead, and not the living. For this soul decision, Governor Yahaya Bello has written his name in Gold.
I congratulate the Executive Governor of Kogi State, His Excellency Governor Yahaya Bello (GYB), and member of his cabinet; at they host the Atlanta’96 today in the city of Lokoja. A jinx has once again being broken by GYB.
Kelvin Oluseyi Eleta,
Writes from Abuja.