Andy Essiet, Calabar
It was a show of shame in Calabar at weekend as FIFA, the world football organising body, Confederation of African Football (CAF) and top Nigerian government officials shunned the immortalisation of the first committee member of FIFA and CAF Executive Committee, Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo.
Not even top officials of football and sports of Nigerian government were present. The Minister of Sports Mr. Sunday Dare, the State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade and others were also absent.
However the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick was represented by the duo of the Deputy Secretary General of the NFF Dr Emmanuel Ikpeme and the Chairman of Delta State Football Association, Chief Kenneth Nwocha.
Etubom Oyo popularly known as “Mr. Football” who was also the first Secretary of the Nigerian Football Association, (NFF) and Secretary General of the Nigerian Football body, died 14 years ago yet non of these bodies did anything to immortalise him.
But 14 years after the neglect by the relevant bodies and governments, his family led by his first son, Etubom Orok Oyo Orok (jnr) at weekend launched the First Mr Football Foundation in Calabar, the Cross River state capital through a book lunch, chronicling the life and times of Oyo managing football in Nigeria, CAF and FIFA in a colourful ceremony of a Church service at Duke Town Presbyterian Church Calabar and the launch at U.J Esuene Stadium at weekend.
The first son of the Football icon, Etubom Orok took a swipe on the political class saying, lack of the political will in Nigerian political system did not allow his father to be immortalized despite assurances by those in authorities that Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo (Mr Football) will be remembered for his contributions in African Football.
He lamented, “the greatest misfortune that has befallen my Father, is to come from this part of the World”.
Etubom Oyo died September 10, 2008 exactly 14 days after his 86th birthday and would have been 100 years old by Saturday, August 27th 2022 if he was alive but Etubom Orok said, “thought he may be dead but he continues to live in the minds of those who cherished him”.
The Chairman of the occasion Senator Andrew Uchendu Pro-chancellor and Chairmen of the Governing Council University of Port-Harcourt in his welcome address said the event is coming 14 years after his transition to enternal glory and in the year of his posthumous centenary birthday.
Senator Uchendu who was represented by Dr Asuquo Ekanem, said “the essays of Mr Football is a compendium of articles of the late Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo containing 207 essays with 286 Page’s.
“Let me at this point renew the call on governments both Federal and State to immortalized this great Son of the state for his contributions to the development of football within and outside the African continent. This they could do by naming a football team or stadium facility after this great icon, the man deserved to be so honoured”.
In their separate remarks, Ikpeme, Nwocha and Mr Gregory Abang, 2nd Vice Chairmen Cross River State Football Association, gave the assurance that the NFF was working assiduously to ensure that the late Etubom Oyo was immortalized because so much has been said about him.
Earlier at the Church service, and unveiling of the tombstone at number 14 Edgerly street Calabar, the Minister in charge of Presbyterian Church of Nigeria Duke Town, Rev. Akil Mbe who preaches on the topic “Looking for a skilled Man/Women”, Gen. 4: 1-14, Acts 9: 36-43 said when you understand your skills, nobody dares you as Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo understood his God giving skills.
He said Etubom Oyo was gifted and he took advantage of his gift and skill in the development of football in Nigeria and the world at large and as such he deserves to be honoured as a selfless man.
Highlight of the ceremony was the book launch which over N10 million was released with the Chief Launcher, Barr. Joe Agi who bought 100 copies for N500, 000 being the highest donation for that day while the Cross River Chapter of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) made a pledge of N25, 000 for five copies.