If there is any piece that purely depicts true nationalism and patriotism, it is the Nigeria National Anthem. Some have lived every word of it till death…just as some don’t know the import let alone the words. Political office holders inclusive. Its recitation, mostly done at gatherings allow for me a chance to focus on the words and meaning. I find the sixth paragraph appropriate for my concern today, which states “the labour of our heroes past, shall never be in vain”. It makes me ponder if we have truly kept this promise. Yes, it is a promise we made to not just past leaders, but heroes! How well has the nation tried to see this is kept? Or did we all forget we had heroes? There are heroes you’d agree.
I love the month of June. It does a lot for me. Apart from the fact it comes so fast without notice, it also is a time to better reflect especially when it rains. So, on a rainy day in June, as I think of that line of our national anthem, I tried hard to see which hero we would have missed out. The Big Boss! Exactly today, a year ago, marks the first anniversary of former Nigerian National football team Coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi (Big Boss). Keshi. Still in shock how it ended for this great Nigerian. A big loss to the entire country and the continent. There is still a vacuum. Unfilled and unmatched.
Now, piece that line of our anthem with the picture of the late Keshi together and you just might get a sense of what I mean. How well have we kept our vow. I am sure we still have a sports ministry…and a minister. What really is going on about immortalizing this super hero, Stephen Keshi?
Now, catch the posers. Have we or has there been any hero so well immortalized in Nigeria? Are there good examples of such to help us all, especially our children aspire to give their all for country and humankind? Or are they mere words. As ordinary as what comes out of the mouth of a politician trying to win votes. Reading again, me thinks that line has in it, “promises are meant to be broken”.
For a man who gave his all; his childhood and his youth for the country, it makes sense to ask what have we done for his family, his legacies, his memory and his game; football? Will he be immortalized?
It is common to see many overlooked, abandoned, but we say its enough. No more. Start with Keshi today. I stumbled on a piece about the poor state former governor Balarabe Musa is. How true? Perhaps that explains why some politicians steal the nation dry just so they live like kings till death. Wrong I dare say. We must seek them and care for them. It sure is one of the many recipes to fixing the malaise of corruption. Don’t wait till they’re no more before you say words so shining that it could lit the nation.
According to Keshi’s brother-in-law, Richard Aburime, Keshi had been complaining of body pains and subsequent massaging, as his health had suddenly degenerated.
“Following his last complains and subsequent massaging, Mr. Keshi’s body system and health suddenly degenerated as a result of which he was at about 11.30pm rushed to the hospital, which is about 20 minutes’ drive from his residence at Giwa Amu area of Government Reserved Area in Benin City. He had complained of pains in his leg for some days and they kept massaging it for him. When he complained of it yesterday, they massaged it for him again,” Mr. Aburime recounted.
“About one and half hours after the massaging, he was in serious distress and was gasping for breath. That was how we rushed him to the hospital, a distance of about 20 minutes, but by the time he arrived at the hospital, the doctor certified him dead on arrival. That was between 11:30 and 11:45 pm.” he added (Source: PremiumTimes).
Keshi, as a former Nigerian football defender and manager, player for Nigeria from 1981- 1995 with 65 caps and 9 goals. Represented Nigeria at the 1994 FIFA World Cup and 1994 Africa Cup of Nations, captaining the team (Super Eagles) to victory. He had also played club football in five countries, mostly Belgium.
Also, as a team manager, he managed Togo football team between 2004-2006. Also between 2007-2008, Mali football team between 2008-2010. Togo in 2011. He however, coached his home country between 2011-2014, and 2015. As a manage, Keshi achieved success by qualifying Togo for the only FIFA World Cup appearance in its history in 2006.
These achievements have indeed made the Big Boss, a worthy of having a taste of that line of our national anthem, “the heroes of our leaders past, shall never be in vain”. Immortalized Keshi now and give spice to the next generation. Rest on Big Boss…if Nigeria has forgotten, many like me remember.
‘Yanju Uwala is a journalist with aledeh.com an online integrated media platform. He tweets from @Samade327: Contact ‘Yanju on Facebook: Yanju Uwala.