Your Excellency,

A matter of national interest and attention.

I write on behalf of the 22 members of the 1980 national football squad, the Green Eagles.

My Captain, ‘Chairman’ Christian Chukwu, MFR, who should have written and signed this letter has passed on that responsibility to me, being his Vice-Captain.

I believe that you are aware that he is recuperating from a series of surgical procedures that he went through a few months ago following the intervention of a Nigerian, an uncommon philanthropist, Mr. Femi Otedola, who paid for the best Captain in the history of Nigerian football to be treated in one of the best hospitals in the United Kingdom.

But for his kind gesture,  Christian would have been added to the growing statistics of those in that team that have already passed on to the great beyond. As I write this, 7 members of that squad are resting peacefully in the bosom of their Father in heaven.

You may remember them: Goalkeeper, Best Ogedegbe; Defenders, Okey Isima, Annas Ahmed and Tunde Bamidele; Midfielders,  Alloysius Atuegbu, Muda Lawal; and Forward, Martins Eyo.

Kindly join us, Sir, to pause briefly and pray that their souls continue to rest.

Your Excellency, once again I salute you on behalf of members of that team. As the year draws to an end, kindly accept their collective good wishes for your continuous good health and Allah’s support for the work you are rendering the country at this very difficult and challenging period in our history.

Just for your information, Christian Chukwu is back and is healing slowly but well. To put it mildly, he has been to ‘hell’ and back.

Unfortunately Sir, he is not alone in suffering from the wear and tear of overused bodies whilst serving the country in the 1970s and 1980s. I remember that you also occasionally joined in watching and celebrating the ‘soldiers’ on the football field fighting to uplift high the name of the  country.

There are others also like Chukwu, trying seriously to cope on their own, suffering mostly from health challenges that have afflicted them very badly and are making their lives a misery as they start their slow but certain descent into old age.

You may desire to know what is happening to all of them now out of interest and concern. An opportunity to do so beckons. After all, they are like you, genuine Nigerian patriots who served their country well.

Less than two years ago, ‘Chief Justice’ Adokie Amiesiamaka, another member of that team had one of his hips replaced surgically in Lebanon. For some years  he was living with excruciating pain before the surgery. Now he is very fine.

‘Kawawa’, Kadiri Ikhana, an ex-soldier in the Nigerian army, in the past two months or so, with the help of a private hospital in Abuja, has had two major surgeries to fix both of his badly distorted hip bones following pains that he could no longer bear and were killing him slowly. He has quietly returned to his base in Abeokuta recuperating. He still needs help.

There is Charles Bassey living quietly in Uyo. He has been downed for two years now by debilitating arthritis that has rendered him immobile. He is surviving now on expensive pain killers and drugs that he can hardly afford, unable to return fully to work again, probably, for the rest of his life.

There is, of course, Emmanuel Okala, Tallest, who has been in very poor state of health for some years now,  battling with poor sight, diabetes, and debilitating arthritis. He also is on pain killers and can do with some help.

Shafiu Mohamed’s case is probably the most pathetic. His case is so bad that to bring it to public attention is to bring shame to Taraba State where he lives in total neglect, poverty and deteriorating health.

The rest of the team are living their lives quietly, bearing the pains and the scars of the battles they fought on the football field for their beloved Nigeria.

Permit me Your Excellency, to acknowledge and thank the Federal Government of Nigeria for the recognition and appreciation of the voluntary service they rendered, with unprecedented rewards that that team of 1980 received from government.

No team of Nigerians across all fields, before and since then, despite some of them achieving loftier heights, have been so lavishly celebrated and rewarded.

We are eternally grateful to the Federal Government and to all Nigerians.

The question now is this:  why are we writing to you at this time?

The answer is simple.
To find out what it is, click on this link.

Segun Odegbami