…after 29 years of failed govt promise

<strong…too late for deceased Rashidi Yekini, Stephen Keshi, Thompson Oliha

In a magnanimous farewell mood, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the allocation of houses to the 22 members of the victorious Nigerian National Football team, the Super Eagles, who won the coveted 1994 African Nations’ Cup competition 29 years ago in Tunisia.

The victorious Super Eagles, captained by the late inspirational central defender cum libero, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, beat an inspired Zambian side by two goals to one in the hard fought final.

By President Buhari’s assent Tuesday, surviving members of the team, as well as the kin of the deceased, are to be allocated apartments in National Housing Estates, in the states of their choice in Nigeria.

It will be recalled that the then team captain, Stephen Keshi suffered a cardiac arrest at the Benin Airport on 7 June 2016 and died on the way to hospital. Rashidi Yekini, the mercurial striker and one time African footballer of the year, died earlier on May 4, 2012 reportedly of depression. Mercurial midfielder, Thompson Oliha is also deceased. Oliha died on 20 June 2013 due to complication from malaria.

The then military government of Gen. Sani Abacha, (now late) had promised the Tunisia 1994 winning Super Eagles squad, houses for their performance. This promise was however unfulfilled for all of 29 years.

In a belated but cheery twist of events, Tuesday, Sadiya Umar Farouq, Minister of Humanitarian Affairs, Disaster Management and Social Development, representing President Muhammadu Buhari, made the announcement in Zamfara State where she was commissioning national housing estates.

Mrs Farouq said the keys and titled documents of the apartments would be handed over to the players as part of the fulfillment of the change which the Buhari administration had promised to Nigerians.

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“There is more to our message of change and improving the human condition in this housing project. This provides us an opportunity to remember our heroes, the fearless Super Eagles, to whom our country made a promise to provide housing for winning the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations, which has remained unfulfilled,” she said.

“On behalf of the Federal Government of Nigeria, I feel proud and privileged to redeem the promise made to these patriotic Nigerians, even if belatedly. I have approved allocation to redeem outstanding allocations to 22 members of the Super Eagles at National Housing Estates located in their states of choice and their keys and titled documents will be handed over to the commissioning of their state housing program.”

Also, present at the commissioning was the Director of Construction and Public Buildings in the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing, Mr Bashir Usman, who gave the breakdown of the National Housing Estate completed in Zamfara State as 80 units of housing.

Usman said the complex comprised of four units of one bedroom, 48 units of two bedrooms and 28 units of three bedroom bungalows.

Governor of Zamfara State, Bello Matawalle, represented by the Speaker of the State House of Assembly, appreciated the complementary efforts of the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing for providing the interventions in which the state is one of the beneficiaries.

The Minister also commissioned Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) projects, including a Primary Healthcare Project at Ungwan Dallatu, Gusau, and blocks of hostels, computer and science laboratories constructed by the Federal Government at the Federal Government Girls College (FGGC) Gusau, Zamfara State.

Nigeria’s Super Eagles had faced a spirited opposition from a grieving Zambian side, the Kenneth Kaunda (KK) Eleven, who were rising from the ashes of the death of most of their first team compatriots in a plane crash weeks earlier.

The KK Eleven captained by Kalusha Bwalya fought hard to honour their deceased compatriots but went down narrowly by two goals to one to a clearly superior Nigerian side which then advanced to the USA 94 World Cup, where they put up an inspiring performance, winning the Most Entertaining Team laurel.