Sam Okwaraji: Mark’s unkind oversight, Ekweremadu’s silence (2)

Late Sam Okwaraji

By ODOGWU EMEKA ODOGWU, PhD


Why didn’t David Mark on his honour as a General in the Nigeria’s Army and Communication Minister offer scholarships to Sam’s younger brothers? How much was scholarship then? Why didn’t mark get job placements, even, in security circles for the younger brothers? What difficulty would he encounter in submitting their names to the Federal Scholarship Board or whatever it was called? What will it take from him to offer them employment?

Late Sam Okwaraji
Late Sam Okwaraji

As I blame Mark for his lack of patriotism to a national commitment and ‘I don’t care about Okwaraji attitude’, I blame Okwaraji’s brothers and sisters (Ndigbo) in government circles like Senator Ike Ekweremadu and former Governors for not being sensitive to attract the fulfilment of Federal Government’s promise to Okwaraji’s when they had the opportunities.

Mark goofed and all those who had opportunity to serve him were selfish and unpatriotic. Yes, I said so. This is because every year the media remind the world about Okwaraji’s sudden death and the promises of the Federal Government to his family, yet the aides of Mark and Ekweremadu as well as all the former Governors and political super stars from the South-East remained silent.

Is it wickedness or was it because there was no political immediate benefits to them? What does it take to rehabilitate Okwaraji’s mother and family? Assuming but not conceding that Federal Government won’t keep its promises, why can’t these Governors or Senators and their House of Representatives members rally millions and build a Duplex for the Okwaraji’s , empower the family members with appointments?


Why wouldn’t South East Military Administrators and Governors from 1989 till date not get interested and involved to remedy the ills against Sam Okwaraji in the last 30 years? They lavish money on frivolities which to them had political gains, but, left actualizing the remedy of injustice against a man who died in active service to his fatherland, despite their promises.

Why couldn’t Senator Ike Ekweremadu who has been in the senate since 1999 not broker resolutions of this all important gap by mobilizing Igbo Senators to actualize the promises Federal Government made to our son. Was Ekweremadu too selfish and unconcerned if there is no political gain?
Mark could have mobilized to ensure the insurance benefits of Sam was actualized. Ekweremadu too could have.

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Others in the political class did a great disservice to Sam Okwaraji and his family. How much was starting up a Printing press that Mark wouldn’t do for Sam’s senior brother who was interested in that business. Sam promised to open a Printing Press for him with his Insurance Bond, but, that couldn’t come to reality because Sam died. The insurance company reneged. And nobody in Nigeria spoke. He was plying his trade of football in Europe and had a life assurance cover worth $4million before his death. Why did the insurance firm refuse to pay the family the entitlement, just because he died in Africa? Was that justified? Was it a clause in the agreement? Nobody cared!

David Mark
David Mark


How much would it cost David Mark to facilitate a dealership for Sam’s younger brother to market Toyota in Nigeria as well as become supplier of Hiace Buses in Nigeria as promised by Sam before his death, since the Insurance Company pulled out? Mark has the capacity to resolve the Insurance Company’s fears and the bond comes to fruition. Was N10,000 then from the Insurance company good enough for bonds worth starting franchise business with Toyota and starting a Printing press.

If the company says the person who held the bond was no more, does it mean there was no benefit for the family for being insured, even, if their claims was that he died outside the country he was insured? Was that part of the Insurance Company’s caveat on the document signed? Had there been intervention from Senator Mark, then as a general and in the ruling class or as a senate President will the outcome be treated with such unconcerned attitude?


If Okwaraji was not iconic soccer star, and a patriot, journalists world over won’t be giving him huge media space every year as their own part of immortalizing his memories since the Federal Government and the Imo State government, have not honoured any of its promises at the graveside of Okwaraji, the late prolific footballer. He remained a talking point in Nigerian sports.

Senator Ekweremadu
Senator Ike Ekweremadu

God raised a lone voice two years ago in the wilderness from Kogi state in the Federal House of Representatives, Mr Tajudeen Yusuf. He moved a motion insisting that the federal government should fulfil those promises to Sam Okwaraji’s family at his graveside. But he was alone. Where were all the lawmakers from South East in the National Assembly? What have they done to support Sam Okwaraji’s family get the promises Federal Government promised?

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Promise of the Federal Government was to Okwaraji’s family, but, that was to Ndigbo and no politician in Igbo land thought of intervening in this Okwaraji’s issue, 30 years after, yet, we kill ourselves over positions due to Ndigbo? What have we achieved from such positions aside personal and selfish? Why would it take a boy who was 12 years or so in 1989 when Okwaraji died to remind politicians of repute this kind of injustice?

Is federal government anybody’s property? So, why can’t our people in privileged positions like Ekweremadu and other members of National Assembly and previous Governors fight and recover Federal Government promises for a member of their state or zone. They allowed the rights and privileges of their citizen to go unrewarded even at death.

Former Governor Achike Udenwa of Imo state made a bold step when he named a stadium after Sam Okwaraji. That was standing out of the crowd. Unfortunately a road displaced the stadium even though, a new stadium has been built in the same area by the immediate past governor, Owelle Rochas Okorocha. Why he did not name the stadium after the late footballer until his term expired was still strange? Will Governor Emeka Ihedioha name the stadium after Okwaraji? What can Governor Ihedioha do more for late Okwaraji especially with a football legend, Kanu Nwankwo as his Adviser? We are waiting!


Now, God is raising another voice from the Imo State House of Assembly and Chairman, House Committee on Sports, Hon Michael Crown, who reportedly assured that the state government under the leadership of Governor Emeka Ihedioha, as a sports lover will address the late Okwaraji’s matter with a view to immortalising him, as he intends to raise a motion in the House on the issue of the late Sam Okwaraji. Can this be for real? Can Governor Iheadioha resolve all the injustices against Okwaraji’s family 30 years after? Is Michael Crown God sent to resolve this imbroglio? Is Hon. Paschal Okolie, member representing Orlu Constituency in the Imo Assembly going to join forces with Michael Crown to actualize the remedying of this 30 years injustice? Will Okwaraji be immortalized soon before his 31st commemorative birthday of his demise? How would Imo state Government immortalize Okwaraji, the enigmatic midfielder player?

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The embattled Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) led by President, Amaju Pinnick remembered Okwaraji’s 30th year of demise with a film where he was quoted as saying’, ….we still feel the sacrifice and patriotism that he showed, playing for this great country. And we have learnt great lessons from that patriot, even as we continue to use his attitude to guide young talents”. That was the highest Okwaraji got. Nigerians are watching! Senator David Mark, a Peace Ambassador for Benue and Nigeria and Senator Ike Ekweremadu are now on it? Mark will correct his mistake. Governor Ihedioha and South East Governors led by Governor Dave Umahi just woke up on this and soon unprecedented would happen to the Okwaraji’s family members?


American multinational technology company, Google, has marked the 55th posthumous birthday of Nigerian football star, Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji, with a Google Doodle- just a temporary alteration of the logo on Google’s homepages. Federal Government only did a twit for Late Okwaraji on their official twitter handle. That was it.


Now, a moral gadfly, Sunday Akin Dare from Oyo state has taken over as Minister, Ministry of sports and Youth Development, let’s see how he helps actualize this unfulfilled dream of the Okwaraji’s by mobilizing the Federal Government, Senator David Mark, Senator Ike Ekweremadu and Governors of South East as well as other elected and appointed personalities to wipe off the tears on the faces of the Okwaraji’s particularly their matriarch. The die is cast!

Cornucopia is a weekly column of Odogwu Emeka Odogwu.
Odogwu is a known Journalist, Editor, Media Consultant and famous Blogger, as well as Social Media Entrepreneur, Publisher and Conversationalist @ www.odogwublog.com among others.

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E-mail : odogwuchampionawka@yahoo.co.uk