The Minister of Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalung, on Friday said one of Nigeria’s national monuments would be name after the late Stephen Keshi, a former Super Eagles coach.
Dalung disclosed this after inaugurating a 20-man National Committee for the burial of the late Keshi, who died on June 8 in Benin.
Speaking while inaugurating the committee, the minister said it would plan and ensure a befitting burial for the late coach who also captained the Super Eagles for many years.
“This event is significant because apart from formally flagging off the funeral ceremonies, it signals the commitment of government to honour its sporting heroes both in life and in death.
“Such heroes don’t come any bigger than Keshi, the longest-playing captain of Nigeria’s Super Eagles.
“And he was also one of the only two African coaches who won the African Nations Cup (AFCON) as a player and as a coach,’’he said.
Dalung said Keshi had at various times led Togo and Nigeria to qualification for World Cup finals and had the distinction of guiding Nigeria to the round of 16.
He said the late Keshi’s achievements were proof that if indigenous coaches were given the chance, they would perform creditably at the global stage.
The minister said members of the committee had been carefully selected as a mark of recognition and appreciation for their individual contributions to national development.
Responding, a member of the committee and also of the Keshi family, Joe Keshi, thanked the Federal Government for the honour being done to his late brother.
He said the family would continue to remember the role played by the Federal Government to keep the memory of his brother alive.
Speaking also at the occasion, the Chairman of the League Management Company (LMC), Shehu Dikko, told newsmen that
Keshi deserved all the Federal Government was planning for him.
“He deserved it. He had been the best of the best in football. There is no better statement than what the Federal Government is doing for Keshi.
“He gave his best for the game as a player and as a coach.
“And this is the time to reward his hard work. This will also put people on their toes to put in their best at all times,’’ he said.
Dikko said the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) had put machinery in motion to immortalise both the late Keshi and the late Amodu Shuaibu, who died on June 11 also in Benin.
The LMC Chairman, who is also the NFF Second Vice-President, added that the plans for such move would be announced after Keshi’s burial.
Also speaking, Emmanuel Ado, Keshi’s brother and manager, thanked the minister for his commitment to giving him a befitting burial.
“Inaugurating the committee today is in fulfilment of government’s commitment to immotalising Keshi,’’ Ado, who is also a member of the committee, said.
Joseph Yobo, a former Super Eagles captain and member of the committee, said it was a sad moment for him to plan for the burial of his “friend and boss’’.
“It is a sad moment to us in the football family. There is nothing to celebrate. It is a very sad moment.
“But I pray to God to give the family the fortitude to bear the loss,’’ he said.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the ministry’s acting Permanent Secretary, Abdulrazak Salau will chair the committee while NFF President Amaju Pinnick is the Vice-Chairman.
The minister named the Secretary of the committee as Hauwa-Kulu Akinyemi, the Director, Federations and Elite Athletes Development (FEAD) department in the ministry.