Two Deaths Too Many | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Two Deaths Too Many

Adenwumi Oni
Posted: Jun 23, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


By Adewumi Oni

Nigerians woke up on the 7th of June 2016 to the news of the sudden death of former Super Eagles Coach, Stephen Keshi. His death shocked football followers and administrators both within and outside the country. Scarcely has the dust of Keshi’s death settled when another deadly blow was dealt on Nigeria with another untimely death, this time, that of former Super Eagles Coach Shuaib Amodu on 10th June 2016. Within a space of three days, two of our best coaches were snatched away from the cold steely claws of death

There are a lot of speculations on what could have caused these painful deaths. One school of thought is of the opinion that the ongoing burial rites of the late Oba of Benin may be responsible for these deaths. This is premised on the fact that they are both indigenes of Benin and also died in Benin within three days. While there is no scientific proof to link burial rites of a traditional ruler to death of other people, it is widely rumored that some customs and traditions in certain parts of the country require people to accompany any dead traditional ruler to the great beyond. Could this be the case for Keshi and Amodu? Only God knows.

Another school of thought is of the opinion that both died of cardiac arrest. Report has it that both deceased were managing high blood pressure condition before their death. Coach Shuaib was said to have complained of chest pain a day before his death and his BP read 140/100. While Stephen Keshi was said to have developed high blood pressure following the death of his wife about six months ago. Both men passed on in their fifties (Keshi at 54 and Shuaib at 58). While high blood pressure is known as a silent killer and is becoming a growing phenomenon among both young and old in Nigeria, one is forced to ask, why would both men die as a result of high blood pressure within three days to each other? Why two former Super Eagles Coaches? Why should it be both Benin indigenes? Well, these are questions begging for answers.

Whichever one is the reason behind their death, it is certain that a lot still need to be done in addressing the welfare of Sportsmen in the country. It is disheartening how the country treats her own when they need the country most. Recall the manner and circumstances surrounding the death of former Super Eagles striker, Rashidi Yekini. He was practically abandoned to die by the Sports Ministry and the country. It is true that these two deaths are high profile deaths and they may have been financially strong enough to take care of themselves. Yet, it scares one that if Keshi and Amodu could die just like that, what happens to other less known former coaches? Were their conditions known to the Sports Ministry? Were there any medical support offered by the Ministry? Why do we disregard our sportsmen in sickness and honor them in death? What is wrong with us as a nation? Can we then blame our sportsmen who deflect to other countries and change citizenship? Who wants to be honored only in death?

Isn’t it high time the Sports Ministry set up a Welfare department to attend to the welfare of sportsmen all over the country? Such department, if set up should mandate all sportsmen to register and remit a certain percentage of their monthly income as a form of contribution to a welfare pool. The Federal Government can also match up this savings with at least 100% of the savings or more. This becomes a pool where sportsmen with any medical condition can be taken care of. Private organizations can also be part of the contributors. Such funds can be managed by selected Pension Fund Administrators in the country. On a similar vein, we should have dedicated hospitals where sportsmen registered in this scheme can receive treatment at highly subsidized rate or on a HMO basis. This should cover both active and retired sportsmen.

We should stop waiting till our sportsmen die before we start promising to take care of their families. They will be more useful to the nation and their families alive than dead. These two deaths are too many and we shouldn’t wait to witness another one before we start taking care of our own. The time to act was decades ago, but it is better late than never!

 Oni writes from Mowe, Ogun State.