On the 23rd of October the World Football Governing Body FIFA alerted our consciousness to the 55th posthumous birthday of the Nigerian and indeed world soccer legend Rashidi Yekini. The tweet reads “Rashidi Yekini, scorer of @NGSuperEagles’s first goal at the #WorldCup, would have been 55 today. The celebration from Nigeria’s record goal scorer will live in World Cup folklore.”
We are not bothered however that the Nigerian Football Federation could not honour him with at least a tweet in a remembrance. It goes to show how much we value our legends and those who have sacrificed so much for the game. So much has been said about the treatment meted out to legends such as Sam Okwaraji, and the likes that put in sweat and blood to put Nigeria on the world football map. What is of pride however is that even if “the prophet is not appreciated in his own town” the prophet is honoured and venerated outside the shores of his land. Clubs that Rashidi Yekini played for, in Ivory Coast and in Portugal (Victoria Setubal) have done their bits to engrave his name in the history of their clubs.
For the millennials who wonder who Rashidi Yekini is or was and what is the fuss about him?. Rashidi Yekini is the first ever goal scorer for Nigeria at the FIFA world cup (who can ever forget that celebration). He is also the highest goal scorer for Nigeria in our footballing history with a total of 37 goals.
Six years after his death, and the occasion of his birthday affords us the unique opportunity to beam our light on this “indispensable” most prolific goal scorer in the history of Nigerian football, we are yet to find his replacement.
Our correspondent paid a visit to the home of the soccer idol. His home is situated at Oni and Sons children hospital area, Off Ring Road Ibadan. To the chagrin of our correspondent, what is left of the buildings left so much to be desired. It is an embarrassment. The home of the soccer icon has become the home of snakes and a hideout for criminals.
From the outside, passerby can easily notice the bushy compound, the paints peeling off of the walls and the rusty padlock on the entrance gate, a sign that it has not been opened for a very long time. Some of the louvers are broken, while part of the roofing sheets have been removed and not replaced.
The gangling striker bought his home comprises of 3 different buildings spreading within the big compound shortly before the 1994 world cup and lived in there before he was forcefully moved out of the place for reason still unknown which led to his untimely death under a very curious circumstance yet to be fully explained by all actors
PICTURES TAKEN 24TH OCTOBER 2018
It appears that just as Rashidi Yekini was abandoned and left uncared for prior to his death is the same way the property in which he lived during his life time is being left uncared for. What a shame!
Despite the home sitting very next to the home of a prominent Ibadan business man and leader, the building is overgrown with grass and the structure already showing signs of dilapidation after many years of neglect. Why so?
Speaking with some neighbours within the vicinity, our correspondent gathered that the building has become a source of disagreement between family members and the daughters of the late footballer. According to them, while the family members want the property sold and the money shared among themselves, the children of Rashidi Yekini intend to convert the edifice into a museum and a historical monument where people can come to and see things belonging to the late icon just the children of fela Kuti did.
While this imbroglio continues, the property has become a cause of concern to neighbors and residents of the area. Some neighbors noted that dangerous reptiles have occupied the property to their (residents) detriment as snakes of different sizes and names have used the property as their abode. These, they say continually endanger their lives. Also they alleged that criminal minded individuals and miscreants have turn the place to hideout and meeting place further endangering the lives of the residents in the area. The landlords in the area have also expressed their displeasure at the security threat that the building now poses to those living within the environment.
It is noteworthy that his building painted mostly in white colours stand out uniquely among other buildings in the neighborhood due to its unkempt status.
With this development it is highly essential that the government steps in. Not only in a bid to honour the late footballer who gave everything for the country but much more for the safety and security of lives and properties of the residents in the environment.
An icon of the status of Rashidi Yekini deserves much more respect even in death than in life. His building carries a lot of history; history that deserves to be preserved. It is therefore highly suggested that government takes over the property and makes it a museum or state or national monument in honour of the soccer icon. This would be in accordance with the wishes of the soccer icon’s children.
In the first place, the neglect that the building currently endures is a de-service to the memory of a hero and eye sore to the environment. We cannot state enough the security implications that have been stressed above.
There is the benefit of preserving the history of the man behind the property and in a way generate revenue to the coffers of the government. The edifice can be turned into a recreational centre for children as it is even located close to the Oni and Sons children Hospital.
With the Obafemi Awolowo Stadium (Liberty) stadium also a stone throw away from the property, the edifice can be made as a base for up and coming footballing talents to house and groom them into many more Rashidi Yekinis
There is a need for a re-examination of the way and manner we treat our heroes. This will go a long way in determining if we will have other heroes who will be ready to sacrifice their lives for the nation and the people.
The labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain.
PICTURE TAKEN 09/09/2016
Reports by Victor Alagogooko and Photos by Kunle Omoniyi for IbadanCity ANNOUNCER