By Austin Ogwuda, Asaba
RENOWNED Sports Administrator, Pa John Ojidoh, had premonition about his death and took time to prepare for it, his widow, Mrs. Mary Ojidoh, has said.
Throughout Monday this week before he died, according to Mrs Ojidoh, her late husband did not leave his room to come to the sitting room to either chat with people or watch football matches he usually did.
Speaking to Sports Vanguard at Illah, yesterday on how and when Pa Ojidoh died, the widow said: “That was on Monday evening. He just called me to his room and when I entered, he raised his head and that was the end”.
Asked whether he was previously sick, she said, “yes, in October 2012 the legs started paining him, you know because of football and he went to hospitals. He was at St Joseph’s hospital and from there he went to the federal (Federal Medical Centre), FMC Asaba) and from there they asked him to return home and he was going for check up. However, last week, he was feeling quite well. He didn’t look like somebody who was sick any longer.
“He actually prepared for his death. He was in the room and refused to come to the parlour where he usually sit to watch football. He was busy arranging all his things. He sent for fuel. I told him there was fuel, he said no, he needed more that he would send them to the bank to get some money. That he would do this, he would do that. Later, he ate. He did everything and he was looking quite well that day even his voice was so nice. But between 6 and 7 o’clock he said ‘come,’ he was talking to me. He told the boy, ‘go and call her’ (me). I entered, he just saw me and raised his head, that was all”, she narrated with heavy heart.
Already, a condolence register has been opened at his residence. As of yesterday morning when Sports Vanguard visited about 50 callers, who had signed the register described Pa Ojidoh him as lover of football, amiable, sports administrator and so on.
Mumonwu, 80-year friend weeps
Pa Ojidoh’s 80 year old close friend whom he watched football matches everyday, Ogbuenyi Justus Mumonwu, wept bitterly, saying: “He is our diokpa (head) of this quarter known as Ogbe-Ogede. He is also a relation. When the person he was following died he assumed the diokpa-ship of the quarter. I come here everyday to watch football matches, two times a day both local and international matches. He left a very good legacy. He was a father to us, as a good adviser and father. When he was alive, he was always there to advise us.”
A senior journalist with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, Mr. Olise Ifejika, a native of Illah said: “Ojidoh bestrode sports in Nigeria for more than four decades as an athlete, teacher, referee and administrator. As administrator, he was consummate; gave professional direction to sports, football and athletics in particular in the old Bendel . He also took that wealth to national football arena, where his contributions were phenomenal. In retirement, he remained relevant. Ojidoh , a legendary sports administrator per excellence participated, served and died a legend”.
Also, Sam Ijeh, former Group Sports Editor of the Pointer newspaper, now Editor, Sunday Pointer said: “Nigeria has lost an astute football administrator. His contributions to the development of the game is partly responsible for the current high level performance of the game in the country. It is big loss to Nigeria especially Delta State and a replacement will be difficult”.
Mood in the community
Although people were going about their normal businesses, there was gloom in the community as people were seen discussing Pa Ojidoh’s demise. Mourners, both men and women were trooping in and out of the modest bungalow of the deceased in droves.