Oba Abdul-Wahab Oyetoro of Onira has expressed regret that Nigeria does not honor its sports heroes, and called on the government to take measures to immortalize them, with specific reference to soccer legend Rashidi Yekini.
He was speaking to SaharaReporters which was in the area in a follow-up to the story about the plight of Alhaja Sidikat Yekini, mother of the late Super Eagles striker, who has fallen on hard times and now retails bread to survive.
“People like Yekini, Muda Lawal, and Samuel Okwaraji to mention just a few should be fully immortalized,” the Oba told our reporter yesterday in Ijagbo, Kwara State when we visited his palace.
Yekini, one of the world’s most feared strikers in his prime, died four years ago, and his mother confirmed that things have been tough for her since his passing.
The old woman had only two loaves of bread available for sale when our reporter arrived, and her tray was soon left empty in two customers.
Rashidi was said to be a generous man who took good care of his mother while he was alive, and his mother attested to the fact that was a very good son who had cared for her and the entire family when.
Alhaja Yekini recalled: “I must confess Yekini took care of me and my late mother (the grandmother). Anytime we had a festival, especially the Muslim Ileya festival, my son would buy two giant rams, one for me and one for my late mother. He took care of me, and I can never forget him. But after his death, I have been suffering, no help, no assistance from anybody whatsoever.”
She further told SaharaReporters that in addition to supporting herself from the little money she makes from selling bread and other items, she has other responsibilities, noting, “Most times I don’t even spend the money alone.”
She drew attention to all the bills she has to pay, including electricity. And while she has been interviewed by many journalists in the past, nothing has happened so far.
Asked if she knew about what Rashidi Yekini’s lawyer wrote about her condition, she replies “I don’t know the lawyer they are talking about because the last time I saw him was during the Fidau prayer, we met at Ira,” she said. “Ever since then I haven’t set my eyes on him again; it was the first lawyer that I know, but this one I don’t know at all. I heard he (the lawyer) is claiming lots of things, but sincerely speaking he has never come to Ijagbo here where I live. “
Alhaja Yekini confirmed that her famous son built the house she lives in; completed the house where his uncle lives at Ira, and also another family house in Ira.
“But he warned me to stay here at Ijagbo in the house where he built for me and my late mother,” she said, before praising some of her tenants whom she said had been supportive of her.
“How much am I collecting here as rent, go round and see things for yourselves, and you would know what I am talking about,” she told our reporter. “But my tenants here have been very supportive, just that they can’t do more than they are doing.”
Alhaji Tunde, one of those tenants, was said to have assisted Alhaja Sidikat in converting the security post built by late Yekini at the gate into a shop apartment so she would be able to collect rent from it to alleviate her financial situation. The house Rashidi built for his mom has 4 three-bedroom flats, one two-bedroom flat, and three single room apartments known as “Boys quarters.” SaharaReporters gathered that the money collected from the rents is less than N140,000 per annum which is not enough to take care of the elderly woman’s needs. There is another shop apartment available for renting, but nobody has shown willingness in occupying the space.
Alhaji Tunde described Rashidi as a very nice person when he was alive. “Anytime Mama informed him about how we tenants have been taking good care of her, he would not hesitate to give out anything he had on him; he was such a generous person. But since after his death things have not been the same again,” he explained.
As a matter of fact, Rashidi’s younger sibling, Akeem Yekini also lives in one of the flats, Alhaja Sidikat and two others tenants live in the flats at the Ijagbo house. But another tragedy for the family was the death of Yekini’s younger sister, Rofiat, who died in a ghastly motor accident less than two years ago. Late Rofiat had been the only active person engaging Rashidi’s lawyer over the properties of the former African soccer king. Since her death, it was alleged that the lawyer has been having his way.
Upon leaving Ijagbo, our reporter embarked on another journey to the palace of Onira, Oba Abdul-Wahab Oyetoro, about 40 minutes of drive from Ijagbo.
The royal father narrated his experience about the sad situation. “I don’t know anything about Yekini’s property because I am not a member of his family,” he said. “But I think the lawyer and the wives are in the best position to answer that question. Since Rashidi died, the mother also “died emotionally” four years ago, what I mean is that the women is no longer the same again,
because he was the breadwinner of the family. But please help us appeal to the government and concerned authorities to immortalize Rashidi Yekini. He served this country with all his might, and I don’t think it is right for them to just let the labor go unrewarded.”
“People like Yekini, Muda Lawal and Samuel Okwaraji to mention just a few should be fully immortalized. Muda Lawal already has a stadium named after him, but that is not the same with Yekini. I remembered during the Fidau prayer four years ago, the Kwara State government promised to name the Kwara Stadium after late Yekini, but we later saw they named one tiny place near the CBN quarters after him; it is even hard to identify the place.
“Also, former NFF President Aminu Maigari promised that memorial games would be played in Lagos and Abuja, and the gate takings would be given to the family; including many other promises that never saw the light of the day. Let the state and the federal government do something so that the younger generation would also be motivated by Yekini’s heroics for the nation. In other advanced countries, people strive to get the name, but here in Nigeria, we don’t even cherish the name again; my appeal again is that Yekini’s name must not perish.”
Our reporters also visited the Yekini family home at Irra town, as well as the burial ground where Rashidi Yekini was buried. There was nothing in the area even to indicate the final resting place of the soccer legend.