FIFA, CAF, others shun immortalisation of ‘Mr. Football,’ Orok Oyo, 14 years after
It was a show of shame in Calabar at the weekend as world football organising body, FIFA, Confederation of African Football (CAF) and top government officials shunned the immortalisation of the country’s first FIFA executive committee member and CAF executive committee, Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo.
Not even top officials of football and sports of Nigerian government were present. The Minister of Sports Mr. Sunday Dare, the State Governor, Senator Ben Ayade and others were also absent.
However, Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President, Amaju Pinnick, was represented by the duo of the Deputy Secretary General of the NFF, Dr. Emmanuel Ikpeme and the Chairman of Delta State Football Association, Chief Kenneth Nwocha.
Etubom Oyo, popularly known as ‘Mr. Football,’ who was also the first secretary of the Nigerian Football Association (NFA) and Secretary General of the Nigerian football body, died 14 years ago.
Fourteen years after the neglect by the relevant bodies and government to immortalise the late ‘Mr. Football,’ his family, led by his first son, Etubom Orok Oyo Orok (Jnr.), launched the first Mr. Football Foundation in Calabar, Cross River State. At the Foundation launch, a book, chronicling the life and times of Oyo managing football in Nigeria, CAF and FIFA was presented in a colourful ceremony at the Duke Town Presbyterian Church, Calabar. It was rounded off with the launch at U.J. Esuene Stadium.
The first son of the football icon, Etubom Orok, took swipe at the political class, saying lack of political will did not allow his father to be immortalised despite assurances by those in authority.
He lamented: “The greatest misfortune that has befallen my father is to come from this part of the world.”
Etubom Oyo died September 10, 2008, exactly 14 days after his 86th birthday and would have been 100 years old by Saturday, August 27, 2022 if he were alive.
The chairman of the occasion, Senator Andrew Uchendu, who is the Pro-Chancellor and chairman of the Governing Council, University of Port Harcourt, in his welcome address, said the event is coming in the year of his posthumous centenary birthday.
Senator Uchendu, who was represented by Dr. Asuquo Ekanem, said, “the essays of Mr. Football is a compendium of articles of the late Etubom Oyo Orok Oyo containing 207 essays with 286 pages.
“Let me at this point renew the call on governments, both federal and states, to immortalise this great son of the state for his contributions to the development of football within and outside the African continent.
“This they could do by naming a football team or stadium facility after this great icon, the man deserved to be so honoured.”
In their separate remarks, Ikpeme, Nwocha and Second Vice Chairmen, Cross River State Football Association, Mr. Gregory Abang, gave the assurance that the NFF was working assiduously to ensure that the late Etubom Oyo was immortalised because so much has been said about him.