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Win this for ‘Lekan

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One of the first generation football clubs in Nigeria is the Shooting Stars Sports Club, otherwise called 3SC FC.

The club started off in the early 1950’s as the Western Nigeria Development Corporation (WNDC) Football Club. It later metamorphosed to Industrial and Investment Credit Corporation (IICC) FC, before its current nomenclature of 3SC.

Her peers included Onitsha Red Devils FC, Enugu Rangers International FC, Bendel Insurance FC, Warri Wolves FC, Jos Plateau FC, Kano Pillars FC etc. However, the Ibadan – based Football Club has always retained her brand identity of “Shooting Stars FC”.

Although, a regional, later state – sponsored FC till date, like her peers, the 3SC FC had, since her WNDC days, been mentored by the late politician, successful businessman, philanthropist and socialite, Chief Lekan Salami.

He was a Chairman of the now-defunct WNDC. Chief Salami, a scion of the Oyetunde Royal Family, Eleta, Ibadan, Oyo State, died on March 13, 1988 at the age of 60.

On Friday, 9th March, this year, the family of the late Chief Olalekan Alamu Sanusi Salami celebrated the 30th anniversary of the passage of their beloved patriarch, Chief Lekan Salami, with a gala night at which the world famous Juju musician, King Sunny Ade performed.

KSA was a mentee of the late Chief Salami and his friends, all now late, such as Chief Bolarinwa Abioro, Chief Oladipo Osinjinrin, Alhaji Alimi Adesokan, Major-General Adeyinka Adebayo, Chief Hector Omo-Oba etc.

A muslim (Fidau) remembrance service was held at Chief Salami’s Ile-Tuntun home, Eleta area of Ibadan on Tuesday, 13th March, this year – the exact day it was 30 years he passed on to eternity. May his kind and noble soul continue to rest in peace. Amen.

I wish to thank the matriarch of the Lekan Salami Family, Chief (Mrs) Ayodele Lekan Salami, Bola, Yomi, Dele, Owolabi, indeed the entire family of the late Chief Lekan Salami, for the kind invitation, sent to me by courier, to the 30th year memorial celebrations of their dear father, our own hero.

So, it is thirty years that, Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria, nay Africa’s best known soccer promoter died! Chief Lekan Salami was Africa’s First Pillar of Sports. How, indeed time flies – when productively used.

I almost opened this tribute with a justifiable immodest statement of, “I thank Owolabi, who on behalf of the family of the late Chief Lekan Salami, sent me an invitation to their patriarch’s 30th memorial anniversary celebration. It is an invitation well – deserved.

Why well deserved? This is why.

The late Chief Lekan Salami was the Master of Ceremonies at my naming ceremony in our Ode Ekerin, Ibadan home during which the sakara band of the doyen, Yusufu Olatunji, alias “Baba l”Egba”, played that Friday, 3rd November, 1950.

Chief Salami was assisted by his bosom friend, the late Alhaji Alimi Adesokan, a former Chairman of the now-defunct Ibadan District Council and later Parliamentary Secretary to the late Premier of Western Nigeria, Chief Samuel Ladoke Akintola. Ever since I was old enough to know of this tie, I held, and still holds, Chief Lekan Salami, as my hero.

Twenty-six years ago, in 1992, I wrote a tribute of the above title, “Win this for ’Lekan” which was published in some national dailies in honour of the late Chief ’Lekan Salami (Please see the Guardian on Sunday issue of 28th November, 1992).

My said article was upgraded in 2013. It is now my pleasure to reprint my tribute to the late politician, successful businessman, soccer promoter, natty dresser and a great socialite, Chief Lekan Salami, on his 30th memorial anniversary, as a mark of respect and love to the nationalist. Please savour it.

“As Nigeria’s Super Eagles defeated the Stallions of Burkina Faso 1 – 0 to win this year’s edition of the African Cup of Nations, on Sunday, 10th February, 2013 at the National Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa, I congratulate our national soccer team and their officials on the victory, coming 19 years after our ‘disappearance’, as it were, from continental soccer reckoning.

“ The Super Eagles victory rekindled the ecstasy the country last experienced in 1992, when the Shooting Stars Club (3SC) of Ibadan won her second continental soccer cup for Nigeria. In the spirit of our current celebration of the 2013 AFCON trophy win, I wish to recall my ‘clarion call’ article to the Shooting Stars Club titled, “Win this for ’Lekan”, published in the Guardian newspaper issue of Saturday, 28th November 1992. The article follows below:

“Today, at the ’Lekan Salami Sports Complex, Ibadan, the Shooting Stars Club (3SC) of Ibadan will engage the Nakivubo Villa of Uganda in the return match of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Cup Soccer final.

“This is a soccer match the Shooting Stars FC must win for the following reasons: First, to relive the glory brought to Nigeria in 1976, when the club won the first continental soccer cup (Winners Cup) for the nation.

“Secondly, to honour the club’s mentor, the late Chief Lekan Salami and thirdly, to make up for the defeat of December 8, 1984, when Shooting Stars FC (then called IICC) lost to the Zamalek Football Club of Egypt at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos State, thereby missing the African Cup of Champions that year.

“Immediately after that defeat in 1984, the late Chief Salami the greatest private contributor/financier of the IICC Football Club, especially during the Cup of Champions campaign, swore that no Nigerian club side would win any continental soccer competition for ten years.

“I will attempt to recapture the moral/financial contributions made by the Federal, State Governments, corporate bodies, and individuals to assist the former IICC FC in its 1984 bid, by extracting from a chapter in my unpublished memoir as a press secretary to four former governors (1 civilian and three military) in the old Oyo State (1983 – 1989).

“One evening in November 1984, the then military governor of Oyo State, Lt.-Col. (now Brigadier-General) Oladayo Popoola, accompanied by his personal aides and some officials, visited the IICC FC during a practice session on the pitch of the National Stadium , Surulere, Lagos State.

“We left Ibadan about two hours behind schedule and to make up for lost time, our convoy drove at break-neck speed which today would definitely put us in the black book of the Federal Road Safety Commission (FRSC).

“With me inside my official car, were the State Director of Protocol, Mr.Adebayo Adedokun and Mr.Remi Asuni, Chairman of the Oyo State Football Association. We must be doing the journey at 120 kph when suddenly one of the rears tyres of our car burst! Our escape from death that day was by God’s grace and the dexterity of Mr. Tirimisiyu Tijani, my official driver.

“As the return match drew nearer, efforts aimed at ensuring IICC’s victory were intensified, radio and television jingles were made, including the famous ‘Balubalu ntafin’ which when translated means that ‘an albino does not see clearly during the day’- a reference to the skin pigmentation of the Arabs.

“The great day, December 8, 1984, eventually arrived and it look like Nigeria was going to war with Egypt. Kick-off time seemed centuries away. Expectations were so high. Even the representative of Major-General Muhammadu Buhari, then the Head of State, General Ibrahim Babangida, then Chief of Army Staff and now President, came to the National Stadium in army fatigues.

“We lost the match and the cup, plunging the nation into mourning. Rather than keep the night in Lagos as scheduled, We (Oyo State Government team) departed for Ibadan. We arrived Ibadan late in the night and the governor instructed me to report very early the following morning at the Government House, Agodi for a “special assignment”.

“At the end of a three-hour meeting with Chief Salami and some state officials at the Government House, Ibadan on Sunday, December 9, I was instructed to announce the immediate dissolution of the IICC FC and dismissal of its officials and players.

• Lekan Alabi, is Agba Akin Olubadan of Ibadanland and cultural ambassador of the national museum, Ile – Ife.


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