By Paul Bassey

Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord

From henceforth . yeah said the spirit that they

may rest from their labours and their works do follow them.

Revelation 14 V 13

Friday, January 31……..four days before the death of Pa Ojidoh, I had for a guest, Linus Mba,  the hard working referees consultant of the Nigeria Football Federation.

Whenever Linus came round, of course you can trust that the topic will be football unlimited. This Friday, in the course of our discussion, Linus drew my attention to my last column in the Vanguard, especially the one that had to do with Keshi wearing a suit on the bench during the world cup.

For him it does not matter what a coach wears, as long as he performs. Then Linus remembered Pa Ojidoh and wondered what his opinion will be on issues like this.

Linus Mbah is one of those who benefits from the regular calls of Pa Ojidoh. The man who was constantly abreast of sports issues, especially football will always want to call you and contribute his quota. His other medium of communication was through text messages, a platform he used frequently to send out prayers and good will messages to his friends and family.

So Linus put a call through  to him and he quickly responded. After the initial greetings, Linus passed the phone to me “….Paul talk to him, you are the journalist…..”  Before I could even say anything, he said he thought I was in South Africa that was why he had not called me. Was I in contact with Alhaji Maigari, I said “yes”. When next I speak to him, I should extend his greetings…. “ ….Tell him he is doing well, but he should not rest on his oars. There are bigger glories ahead of him.

“ It is not enough to qualify for the world cup. We should go there and do well. We have the players and the resources and all we need is the proper mentality to do better than we have been doing. The issue of African countries falling short is a psychological block that should be dislodged………

“ What about my son?” (Keshi) I said he was OK. That Keshi should remain focused. CHAN was nearly a disaster, but that we should thank God we survived. If the world cup team can put in the same effort and resilience put in by the team that overcame Morocco, then they will go far. He said.

When I had the opportunity to put in a word, I said to him that one of the reasons we called was to have his view on the dressing of coaches on the bench. He laughed……

“Before now, it would have been considered an abomination to take a suit near a football field. How dare you come dressed with a suit and tie where excessive activity was needed?” He asked rhetorically.

“ But today, things have changed and we should endeavour to embrace positive changes. I am not for a suit as a hard and fast rule. You must be comfortable in what you put on. If you are not a suit and tie person, you cannot start now to strangulate  yourself because you are a world cup coach. I am for decent piece of dressing. Respectable. Some coaches wear something different from their staff. Be presentable. A hood does not make a monk……” He concluded.

He then asked after Chief Jonathan Ogufere, President of the Sports Veterans Association and his deputy Chief Peter Osugo. He said he had not heard from Emmanuel Obafemi for some time now………

He prayed for me and prayed for Linus. Asked God to lengthen our lives and endow us with knowledge and wisdom to  continue to serve sports faithfully. “….We have passed the baton to you. We have done our bit. I am living in injury time and can move on any time.……”

We also prayed for him, told him he will not “leave” until God’s appointed time.

Tuesday morning “He” called me, and as usual I rushed to the phone only to hear a voice saying “Papa passed on yesterday evening….”

The extra time has expired, the Great arbiter has blown his whistle, and retired to the dressing room a gladiator who had bestrode the Nigerian sports terrain like a colossus, a utility player who had fought a good fight. I join millions of Nigerians in bidding farewell to this icon of our sports organization .

Well done good and faithful servant of sport. Enter thou into the joy of your Lord.

At the Lagos Airport Hotel (LAHSA) sports week

Courtesy Idowu Oladunni I was invited as one of the guests at the closing ceremony of the Lagos Airport Hotel sports festival 2013. Idowu is the chairman of the sports Committee. I had said jokingly that this afforded me an opportunity of eating good food for free, and that since the event was held in the Hotel sports field I will definitely not mind a complimentary room should we close too late for me to drive home!

It turned out to be more serious that I thought. I was definitely pleased to witness the physical presence of the MD and Chief Executive of the Hotel Mr James Kayode Adenigba who was supported by his top management staff including Executive Director Finance, Alhaji Ademola Adetila and Controller Human Resources Mr Lawrence Omidiriona among others.

My attention was further captured when the MD revealed in his speech that the sports event had been run religiously for the past sixteen years and it contributed a great deal in the unity, bonding and camaraderie that existed between the staff.

I sat through the very entertaining five a side football final in which Maintenance beat Housekeeping 1-0, just as the final of relays, table tennis, swimming, draught and snooker among others proved to be very exciting and competitive.

Departments that were on display included Human Resources, Food and Beverages,  Training and Accounts and Audit.

I thought this was commendable.

I think it is very good and worth emulating.

See you next week.

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