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Keshi: “You now wonder if Nigeria is worth fighting for or even dying for”

Nigeria legend Keshi buried devoid of promised fanfare
Former Nigeria skipper and coach Stephen Keshi has been laid to rest in his village of Ilah, southern Nigeria, Friday afternoon, but without the fanfare promised by the country’s government.

Keshi, 54, died on June 8 in Benin City.

Nigerian former captain and goalkeeper Peter Rufai (R) sits with former international football players during the funeral ceremony of late Nigerian football legend Stephen Keshi at the Evangelist Catholic Church of St John, in Illah, Delta State, on July 29, 2016. Former Nigerian international and coach Stephen Keshi died from a heart attack at the age of 54 on June 2016. Keshi, also a former skipper of Nigeria, won the Africa Cup of Nations as a player in 1994 and coach in 2013. / AFP PHOTO
Nigerian former captain and goalkeeper Peter Rufai (R) sits with former international football players during the funeral ceremony of late Nigerian football legend Stephen Keshi at the Evangelist Catholic Church of St John, in Illah, Delta State, on July 29, 2016.
Former Nigerian international and coach Stephen Keshi died from a heart attack at the age of 54 on June 2016. Keshi, also a former skipper of Nigeria, won the Africa Cup of Nations as a player in 1994 and coach in 2013. / AFP PHOTO

However, it was not the state funeral that the Nigerian government first promised with oil-rich Delta State and Keshi’s family organising his final passage beginning with a number of events on Thursday.

Nigerian sports minister Solomon Dalung said the government chose a low-key funeral because Keshi left behind a family that has to be catered for.

“I am not shocked by the way the government has treated this event,” said a disappointed ex-Nigeria captain and teammate of Keshi, Austin Eguavoen.

“For instance, most of us have yet to get the houses the government promised us when we won the Nations Cup in 1994.

“You are only energised when you have been looked after.

“You now wonder if Nigeria is worth fighting for or even dying for.”

Keshi’s son Femi blasted the government for failing to honour a promise of a state funeral for his father.

“The federal government did not deliver on the promises they made to us as regards our father’s burial,” he said.

Keshi made history in 2013, when he became only the second man after Mahmoud El Gohary of Egypt to win the Africa Cup of Nations both as a player and a coach.

‘Big Boss’ will also be remembered as the man who spared off the exodus of Nigerian players to Belgium in the mid-80s when he signed for Anderlecht.


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