“I live, sleep, eat, and drink football and will surely die in it. I might not have reached the zenith of football administration, but as long as I live, I will continue to pursue the course of making Nigeria a great football nation,” were the words of Taiwo Ogunjobi in a 2013 interview with TS weekend.
The entire football community in Nigeria woke to the rude shock of the death of Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi on Monday, February 11, 2019. He died after a brief illness in Ibadan.
THE SPORTDIVA takes a look at the man called Skippo; his career, achievements, the circumstance that surrounds his death and tributes that followed.
Taiwo Joseph Ogunjobi the footballer AKA ‘Skippo’
He started playing football from Primary School in Lagos. He didn’t stop there, he played in Secondary School and the University. After that, he proceeded to play for IICC (now known as Shooting Stars FC of Ibadan). Ogunjobi got a scholarship to study in the United States through his football activities. He never played abroad professionally.
In 1973, he was invited by the former German coach, Karl-Heinz Marotzke, to the Green Eagles’ camp (Super Eagles). Late Ogunjobi led the Academicals to win a gold medal in 1974 during the maiden edition of Nigeria/Ghana Sports Festival.
The Football Administrator
He was the Secretary-General to the Nigeria Football Association now NFF, he served as the Chairman, Technical Sub-Committee and at a time, Chairman of Chairmen. He once served on the committee of the African Football Confederation (CAF).
Having gone through the gains in football administration, he also experienced the pains when he was dragged with some former chiefs of the NFF to the anti-graft agency, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, over an alleged misappropriation of N1.5billion Naira released by the Federal Government for the 2010 world cup which took place in South Africa.
The case continued for several years with many court appearances, he was locked up in Kuje Prison together with Former NFF President, Alhaji Sani Lulu Abdullahi and, Mr Amanze Uchegbulam. After eight years, June 8, 2018, precisely, the Federal Court of Appeal in Abuja delivered the judgement of ‘No Case’, following the submission on the EFCC case of corruption levelled against the trio. The judges said the trial was totally unwarranted and a waste of time. They were discharged and acquitted.
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In 2013, he was slammed with a 10-year-ban by an investigative committee, headed by a former NFF Executive Board Member, Barrister Chris Green on corruption charges, he was alleged to be involved in the transfer saga of a former Flying Eagles Striker, Kayode Olanrewaju. The player had reported him to the NFF claiming transfer extortion.
However, some feelers in the football circle scooped that the ban had a political undertone because he showed interest in vying for the office of the NFF President and the ban was to prevent him from contesting.
Popularly known as the ‘Pillar of sports’ in Osun state, in 2017, he was appointed as the Special Adviser on Football Matters to the former governor of the state, Rauf Aregbesola. Till his demise, he was the Chairman of Osun state FA.
How he died
In a chat with THE SPORTDIVA, media officer to Osun United FC and Personal Assistant to Mr Ogunjobi, Tunde Shamsudeen narrated the unfortunate incidence that led to his death.
“He was said to have fallen sick in Ibadan on Saturday and, he went to the hospital for a medical check-up, the doctor recommends bed rest for him. He was in the hospital on Saturday and Sunday, only for him to pass away on Monday at the age of 66,” a sober Tunde narrated amidst tears.
Prior to his demise, he watched the Nigerian Premier League match between Remo Stars vs MFM FC in Ilorin on Wednesday, February 6, 2019. His last public outing was the 25 years anniversary of Ijesha Golden Warriors in Ilesha on Thursday. Ijesha Golden Warriors is the club that produced the former Super Eagles defender, Dele Adeleye who also featured in a football match to mark the 25th anniversary.
His remains have been deposited in a mortuary as we await final burial announcement from his immediate family.
A register has been opened in his home in Ibadan and another one at the NFF headquarters in Abuja. Many football family members and mourners have penned their parting words to the colossus.
He was survived by a wife, children and grandchildren.
Several tributes have been pouring in since the demise of a man who made huge impact in shaping football in Nigeria.
Governor of Osun state, Mr Gboyega Oyetola said, “As the chairman of the Osun State Football Association, he gave his best in the service of the state, galvanizing the youths and pushing for the development of sports, football in particular,” Governor Oyetola said.
“I commiserate with the widow, children, family members, friends and the Nigerian sporting family, over this irreparable loss.
“Ogunjobi will be missed. He gave his best as a club football player, national team player, and as an administrator, who rose to the pinnacle as Secretary General of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
“His tenure as Osun State Football Association chairman brought tremendous development to football in this state. May his soul rest in peace,” Governor Oyetola said.
He enjoined the family to take solace in the fact that “he lived a life of service to God and humanity.”
Honourable Minister for Youths and Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung said, “He was a seasoned administrator and had contributed immensely to the development of football in Nigeria especially in his home state Osun.
“I commiserate with his immediate family members, the Osun State Football Association and other football stakeholders who knew or worked with him. He has left an indelible mark and a vacuum in football administration in the country. May God grant his soul eternal rest and his family, the fortitude to bear this loss.”
President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Amaju Pinnick said, “I cannot find the words as much as I try. A very big tree has fallen in Nigerian Football and we are all devastated. If the NFF had a flag of its own, it would fly at half-mast for several weeks.
“Chief Ogunjobi was one of the strongest pillars of association football in Nigeria and the entire Nigerian Football fraternity will miss him badly. The Members of the NFF Executive Committee, Management and Staff of the NFF, Members of the Congress, eminent football stakeholders and other workers in football in these shores are in shock,” President of the NFF, Amaju Melvin Pinnick said.
Chairman of the League Management Company (LMC), Shehu Dikko, paid his tribute by saying, “Chief Ogunjobi is one of the heroes of League football in Nigeria having captained IICC, a traditional club in our league system that stands today as an institution.
“He also later led the club as an administrator to the CAF Champions League finals before rising to the pinnacle of football administration in the country as Secretary General of the NFF.”