By Onochie Anibeze
Lagos State Governor, Raji Fashola, will lead the way tomorrow when all gather in Lagos to honour Sam Okwaraji, the Nigerian international who died August 12, 1989, while playing Italia â€˜90 World Cup qualifier against Angola.
Tomorrow, it will be the 20th anniversary of Okwarajiâ€™s death. And Fashola, who has been pulling all strings to revive sports not only in Lagos but also in the country, feels strongly that recognising Nigeriaâ€™sÂ heroes will inspire more Nigerians into serving the country meritoriously. Few days after partnering Lagos Sports Writers Association to launch the Teslim Balogun Foundation, Fashola plans for his own foundation that will contribute to the welfare of Nigerian sports men and women.
Adeniji-Adele, another buff in sports, who is the commissioner for sports in Lagos, is driving the programmes that are easily making Lagos and Fashola stand out in sports too.
â€œIt is important we honour our heroes so that others will be inspired to emulate them. That is why the governor is going into all these. It is not only for Lagos but also for Nigeria,â€ Adeniji-Adele said yesterday after announcing programme for tomorrowâ€™s event. Dr. Akin Amao and Segun Odegbami will deliver lectures at the SWAN building at the National Stadium by 3pm. Thereafter, governor Fashola will open the newly retouched lawn where the bust of Okaraji is in front of the National Stadium.
From there, he leads all into the Teslim Balagun Stadium where the teammates of Okwaraji will play Lagos State All Stars, a team of retired players. To be in Lagos for the match is David Ngodigha, Okwarajiâ€™s close friend from their PortHacourt days to Eagles where they were roommates.
They shared the same room on the day Okwaraji died. Uche Okafor, Dahiru Sadi, Samson Siasia, Etim Esim, Alloy Agu, Dorminic Iorfa are among those who played with Okwaraji and are expected to play tomorrow against the likes of Henry Nwosu. Fashola himself is a member of Lagos All Stars and his touches on the ball are deft. Stephen Keshi, Chidi Nwanu,Â Sunday Eboigbe, Bright Omokaro also played with Okwaraji and some of them are expected to play tomorrow.
â€œIt is great that Fashola is doing this. We canâ€™t thank him enough. It is a great thing for sports in this country,â€ Ngodigha said. He kept the goal on the day Okwaraji died. He saved a penalty in that 1-0 match that also claimed other lives following stampede. Bala Ali, Sam Nwobu and Osaro Obabaifo were in the team that played with Okwaraji that day. They are late now.
â€œWe should all commend Fashola for what he is doing. This can ginger people into serious action for the country, it can inspire patriotism,â€ Uche Okafor, who is currently visiting the country from his US base said.