Nigeria’s football community mourns Enugu FA chairman
The pangs of death again hit the Enugu State football circle yesterday morning, claiming the life of the state’s Football Association chairman, Chidi Offor Okenwa.
The sad development was coming about a month after two players of Enugu Rangers, Ifeanyi George and Emmanuel Ogbu, lost their lives in an auto crash along the Asaba- Benin highway.
Okenwa, 50, was said to have died at his residence in Enugu. He was said to have returned from the hospital after spending several weeks over a protracted illness.
A board member of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), he was re-elected the Chairman of Enugu State Football Association (ENSFA), for a new four-year tenure last year.
Emmanuel Ochiagha, who broke the news, said: “God have mercy, South East FA have just lost one of our finest brains in football admin.
“We have this morning lost the Enugu State FA Chairman, Mr. Chidi Offor Okenwa to the cold hands of death. May his soul rest in perfect peace’”
Okenwa, a seasoned administrator, hailed from Obinagu-Ndiuno, Akpugo, Nkanu West Council of Enugu State.
Officials of the Enugu Sports Council, who were contacted to comment on his demise yesterday preferred to speak “only when the family has officially declared his death in line with Igbo culture.”
However, the NFF disclosed that Okenwa had been diagnosed as having leukemia, and was said to have been restless throughout the night and slumped in the early hours before being rushed to a private hospital in Enugu, where he was confirmed dead.
A devastated NFF President, Mr. Amaju Melvin Pinnick, paid glowing tributes to Okenwa, who was part of a meeting of the NFF Executive Committee held via video conferencing penultimate Friday. It was that same day that Okenwa celebrated his 50th birthday.
“This is a huge shock. Each and every one of us on the NFF board is in absolute grief. Chidi (Okenwa) was a loyal soldier of Nigerian Football and was a leading member of our intellectual wing. This is a terrible blow.
“He was one man you can always rely on to give candid advice. We bounced ideas off him regularly and picked his brain on many issues because of his wide knowledge and decades of experience in football administration. We will sorely miss him,” Pinnick said.
Brilliant, humble, eloquent, witty, thorough and committed to the development of Nigeria’s football at all levels, Okenwa evinced capacity, zeal and fervour, and gave his all for the good ending of any project or assignment in which he found himself.
The NFF said it was in contact with the family of the late Chidi Ofo Okenwa with regards to a decision on the date of the final burial rites.
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