By Andy Esiet, Calabar
The Orok Oyo family is set to immortalize their patriarch, Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo popularly known as “Mr. Football” 14 years after the federal government failed promises.
To this end, the family with support from friends and associates is launching the Oyo Orok Oyo Foundation to mark his posthumous Centenary birthday on August 27, 2022 as he deserves to be immortalized by Nigeria and Nigerians.
Briefing some newsmen in Calabar at weekend on plans to launch the Foundation, the Founder of the foundation, Chief Orok Oyo, said the then Minister of Sports, Abdulraham Gimba when he (Etubom Oyo) was being buried in Calabar 14 years ago in 2008, had “suggested that Etubom Oyo deserves being immortalized and he must be immortalized and he promised that a football team may be the Under-13 and a stadium would be named after him but 14 years down the line Ministers have come and gone, none of them has been able to do it.
“So what we are doing now is to at least remind them of the unfinished job they promised to do which of course everybody believes the man deserves. He is not living again but at least to give Nigerians a platform to emulate because the youths today are getting other cultures into their mind which are different from what is good for society. He did football regardless of money and I think Nigerians have forgotten him”.
He called on the Nigerian government to “at least celebrate their own who attended a fit that brought Nigeria to limelight and made Nigeria to be remembered in the committee of nations. The international community should come and support us but Nigeria must start something. I also expect the Cross River state government to spearhead this celebration. The man is going to be 100 years old this year posthumously so they (state government) should spearhead this ceremony of getting him immortalized. He is one of their own. This is a thing of pride that the Cross River state government should embrace for the asking. The family should not even be involved, they should take over the whole arrangement and make sure that this thing is done without any much ado. Letters have been sent out to some governments, particularly the host state government. We sent letter to them through the Commissioner for Sports as well as the Chairman of the Sports Council”.
He said, “Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo was a sage that the whole Africa and football world listened to as far as football administration was concerned which is why both CAF and FIFA conferred him with the life honorary title so they could continue to tap from his wealth of experience until his death in 2008. If Africa and the world so honoured him, why should his own country, Nigeria, not consider him worthy to be immortalized? Particularly as he recorded all these achievements with nothing to show for it other than the usual stipend paid as allowance for trips made at the behest of CAF or FIFA”.
Giving details on the launching of the foundation, Chief Oyo said, the ceremonies will include: “the unveiling of his tombstone; memorial service in his honor; launching of the book containing his numerous articles on football history and — administration in Nigeria and beyond” and other s as the “the aims and objectives of the foundation include to help the younger generation discover their talents and abilities early; publish the general educative and historical articles written by Mr. Football himself with a view to assisting today’s coaches in identifying the common problems in football and how to tackle them; organize football activities aimed at immortalizing him such as promoting football competitions and identifying or constructing football stadium to be named after him; giving award to outstanding football players in all categories of men women and youths, organizing football competitions, creating platforms for talented individuals to showcase their talents and to grant scholarship to talented young needy footballers”.
He stated that despite the decadence in the society that corruption reigned supreme, Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo was still able to hold his own among his peers, culminating in his achieving so many firsts in his chosen career during his lifetime.
He was the first Secretary of the Nigeria Football Association (since 1958) and in fact the longest serving Secretary General of the Nigerian National football body. First Nigerian to be elected into the executive committee of CAF (1972 — 1998-The longest executive committee member in Africa). First Nigerian to be elected into the executive committee of FIFA (1980 — 1988). First African to be made the Honorary Vice President of CAF for life 1998 till his death in 2008; first Nigerian to be in Africa’s sports’ “Who is who?”; first Nigerian to be granted FIFA order of Merit in Gold in a ceremony in Zurich in the year 2000.