It’s the 23rd day of January 2022 and the quarter-finals of the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon and the quarter-finals stage is upon us in a few hours — here, Super Eagles of Nigeria will match up against Carthage Eagles of Tunisia, a match we must not toy with, else, we will be sent packing despite a smooth and glorious first round.

Coincidentally, it’s the same day we celebrate the posthumous 60th anniversary of the man who last won the AFCON as a Coach for the country, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, who slept in the Lord, five years ago. If you want to charge the players to have anyone emulated, the best person you would mention is Stephen Keshi.

The current minister of Youths and sports must be a good student of history to know that the late Keshi is the right name to call, on his posthumous 60th birthday, when sending his motivational piece to the players who are 447 km by air distance, far from the country. Before talking about the Minister’s snippet, let me do a quick update on Stephen Keshi Foundation.

Stephen Keshi Football and Vocational Training Center (SKFVTC) is the brainchild of individuals who shared the pitch with Stephen Keshi and feel that with his achievement, they won’t let his name be restricted to Super Eagles related discussions. They set up this foundation with the main objectives of continuing Keshi’s legacy and giving hope to the youths on the street.

It’s five years now since the founding of the foundation and it has successfully hosted four different national u-17 football tournaments in Delta State and Edo State.

The same Foundation has obtained 600 plots of land in Obazuwa of Edo State and has since been working on the development of the sites into something that will be a place of refuge for as many talented youths.

Another thing this foundation has done successfully in the last four years is the Stephen Keshi Annual Memorial lecture.

This highlighted achievement should be backed up by men of high repute, especially the well to do football stakeholders.

Words of Oloye Sunday Dare.
“Keshi was one of the greatest icons of the Africa Cup of Nations as a player and coach in Nigeria. He would have been 60 on Sunday if he was still around with us. We can celebrate him posthumously with another good performance and a sweet victory in our round of 16 games against Tunisia in Garoua, Cameroon on Sunday.”

My take
A very good message from the ‘working’ minister to the players and team crew. There’s no better way to motivate these guys than using this – a hero- to ginger their swagger. But we do not want to celebrate Keshi with only a win.

However, I would like to know if the only thing we can do about Stephen Keshi is to use his name and achievement to motivate these guys and not do anything to honour him. By my calculation, ‘The Big Boss’ is not the only man who achieved as a player or a coach, bearing the green white green flag. Why not use others? It means there’s something special about his lifetime and achievement.

But then, Mr Minister, sir, according to my source from the STEPHEN KESHI FOOTBALL AND VOCATIONAL TRAINING CENTRE, there have been futile efforts in reaching out to you to look into what plans they have for the centre of the same man you are using as a means of motivating our national representatives, far away in Cameroon.

It’s good you are celebrating him today that he should be 60, if not that he lost his life to the cold hands of death, but it’s not right that till now, you are yet to identify with the foundation which a lot of real friends have stood by for long.

According to my source, sir, not even a response from your office or you as an individual following the request of the Board of Trustees for you to visit the Center or invite them; for how long shall we do this for? For how long shall we keep honouring our legends with only the tips of our lips and not our hearts?

Dear Chief, I want to plead as a concerned Nigerian and call your notice to this. It will be more honourable if you can identify yourself with this initiative to immortalise Stephen Keshi and not just this yearly ritual of a statement. From my research, these initiatives are in tandem with your vision as a Minister of both sports and youths development in the country, so honouring their invitation or request will go a long way in you honouring the Big Boss.

Chief Sunday Dare, I recall that last time out, you were invited for the annual Stephen Keshi memorial lecture, but due to your schedule, you sent a representative with lots of promises that are yet to be fulfilled. May I remind you that time is no longer on your side and this should be considered to work on.

I believe in your sagacity and your prowess, hence my reason for putting together these few words. If we can’t honour them while alive, let’s not use their names without honouring them while they are no more – every man will one day be in this position.