Disturbing News After Keshi, Amodu’s Death | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Disturbing News After Keshi, Amodu’s Death

Bola Bolawole
Posted: Jun 18, 2016 at 2:00 am   /   by   /   comments (0)


By Bola Bolawole

“The evil that men do lives after them, The good is oft interred with their bones; So let it be with Caesar” – Mark Anthony, in William Shakespeare’s “Juluis Caesar”.

The death of former four-time national coach, Shuaib Amodu, two days after that of Stephen Keshi, came to Nigerians like lightening from the thunderbolts: Both men were friends in life and had worked amiably together on the national team, the Super Eagles; could it then mean that they also chose to travel the road to the great beyond together? While Keshi’s death came after lightening illness, Shuabu reportedly died in his sleep. He was observing the Muslin Ramadan fast and family members who had gone to wake him up for “sari” met him stone dead 4.00am. Early on, he was said to have complained of sharp pains in his chest region as a result of which he called in a doctor who examined him but gave him a clean bill of health, even advising he could proceed with Ramadan. Shaibu’s son said his father had stopped fasting because of his health condition but this last one, he just chose to do the fasting because he thought he could manage it. Creatures have an uncanny way of reconciling with their Creator when it matters most, even when it does not appear so to ordinary eyes. Both Keshi and Shuaid died in the Edo state capital of Benin; Keshi because he lived there but Shuaib because he had gone there to press the state government for his unpaid salaries and other emoluments. While Keshi hailed from neighbouring Delta; Shuaib was from Edo. The respective state governments as well as the Nigeria Football Federation that both men worked for signalled their intention to participate in their burial arrangements. In addition, there have been strident calls from everywhere that both men should be immortalised. I am yet to read any dissenting view. Even the House of Representatives passed a motion asking the Federal Government to immortalise both men as befitting of national heroes. Whereas Shuaib was buried immediately after his death, being a Muslim; Keshi’s burial arrangements are still on-going.

A sorrowful dimension to the men’s death, however, is the news that they died broken-hearted, frustrated, and abandoned at the time they most needed love, encouragement, and support. The “ill-treatment” that both men had received at the hands of NFF is given as one of the reasons for this. It is a well-known fact that Keshi lost his wife not long ago and was, without doubt, heartbroken and crest-fallen. He was said not to have recovered from the sad loss before his own sad occurrence took place. I have read reports which say that had Keshi another love – football – to fall back upon immediately after that family tragedy, it would have made his recovery easier and faster. I quite agree that with a job to tend and an assignment to execute; with another passion to occupy the mind, it should help someone to better get over the kind of loss suffered by Keshi. But an idle mind will only sink deeper into depression and hands unoccupied at such critical moments cannot but be the devil’s workshop. But, then, must we now say that employers should no longer hire and fire? Labour relations and extant laws recognise that the workplace is governed by known laws which are supposed to be applied regardless of whose ox is gored. Just like employees have a right to quit jobs following laid down procedures, so also do employees have same rights to hire and fire following due process. The problem with the Keshi\NFF tango was that it was allowed to degenerate into personality clashes, bickering, and unnecessary name-calling and blame-trading; such that when both parties eventually parted ways, it was not with a handshake. Shuaib also had his own fair share of controversies with the Football authorities. Twice he qualified the country for the World Cup; twice he was not allowed to take the country there. Yet, each time the authorities ran into trouble and called on Shuaib, he was always willing to come to the rescue. We have a huge lesson to learn here from how such issues are maturely handled by football authorities abroad. Manuel Pellegrini and Louis van Gaal respectively may not have been happy to leave Man. City and Manchester United just as Jose Mourinho was not happy leaving Chelsea; but teams abroad bend over backward to often ensure they part ways with less acrimony. We need the same spirit, understanding, and administrative acumen here. Henceforth, let us weigh our words before uttering them; what you will not say of a man when he is dead, do not utter it while he is alive. How you will not treat a man when he is dead, avoid treating him that way when he is alive. Or else, all your tears after the man’s death will be described as crocodile’s and your eulogies as nothing but sheer hypocrisy.

But perhaps much more troubling, especially in Shuaib’s case, is the fact that the man went into his grave financially incapacitated even when the Edo State Government and the NFF owed him millions of Naira in unpaid salaries and emoluments. According to reports, Shuaib had gone to Benin, begging bowl in hand, to Gov. Adams Oshiomhole to beg for his entitlements. Shuaib’s letter to Adams graphically depicts how our leaders play tin-gods and ride rough-shod on the rights of citizens. For someone who was once Nigeria Labour Congress president, the abject treatment meted out to Shuaib is a blithe on Adams; just as his “widow my foot” statement some years back. This is not to say, however, that Keshi and Shuaib were saints while they lived. But it is African to say no evil of the dead. Here, it is only the good done that lives after the dead while the evil is interred with their bones. It is wisdom to allow this understanding shape our inter-personal relationships to avoid future embarrassment.