Delta will immortalise Keshi —Okowa

Family members and sympathisers watch in agony as the body of Stephen Keshi was being lowered into the grave on Friday in his hometown, Illah.

• As Eguavoen laments

DELTA State government has promised to immortalise the late former Nigeria coach, Stephen Keshi.

This was disclosed by the state’s governor, Dr Ifeanyi Okowa on Friday, as the remains of the football legend were committed to mother earth at his Ukpologwu quarters in Illah, Delta State, amid tears from family members, fans and ex-team-mates of the former Nigeria captain.

The sleepy town of Illah came alive  as the body of Keshi, after arrival in the morning, was taken round the major streets, including the ones leading to the family house and the church adorned with posters of the former Togo coach.

Dr Okowa, at the requiem service held at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church,  said the state was working out modalities to immortalise Keshi, who he described as having played his script because he came, saw and conquered.

Speaking through the deputy governor, Barrister Kingsley Otuaro, who led other government functionaries, Okowa said the state government would link with the federal authorities to look for the best way to immortalise Keshi.

Ex-internationals and former team-mates of the late football icon, led by Austin Eguavoen moved worshippers almost to tears when they sang their favourite songs for the fallen soccer hero which had encouraged them to victories in their playing days.

“People may say he ‘Keshi’  was too bossy, he was not. We ran the national team together. If any person wanted to deal with Keshi, the person cannot because we (team-mates) were with him.

“Keshi is still our member, he is now lying in the box, it could have been any of us, but I tell you, our hearts are heavy,” said Eguavoen, who captained Nigeria to a 2-1 victory over Zambia in the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) final in Tunisia.

The former Eagles defender lamented the inability of the Federal Government to partake in the burial of Keshi.

“I am not shocked by the way the government has treated this event,” he said. “For instance, most of us have yet to get the houses the government promised us when we won the Nations Cup in 1994. You are only energised when you have been looked after. One keeps wondering if Nigeria is worth fighting for or even dying for”

In his homily, Reverend Fr. Dennis Arinze urged Nigerians to have strong faith in God, adding that a lot should be learnt from the death of a person like Keshi.

The clergyman took a swipe on the economic situation of the country and noted that, a lot more needed to be done in the area of education, health and other sectors.

He bemoaned the level of unemployment, prostitution, hunger and other social vices plaguing the country.