With Adebayo Olodan
Nigerian football fraternity has yet again been thrown into mourning following the passing of a former General Secretary of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi.
Coincidentally, the football administrator par excellence died on a day (Monday February 11, 2019) that was the 35th anniversary of his only cap for the national team.
Ogunjobi was said to have died at the University of Ibadan College Hospital (UICH) after a brief illness at the age of 66.
The unfortunate news of Ogunjobi’s death was broken on the social media by veteran sports journalist, Colin Udoh and later by my childhood friend and online journalist, Rasaq Oborien on Monday.
According to the post of Rasaq, he had a chat with Ogunjobi last Wednesday during the match between Remo Stars and MFM FC at the Osogbo Township Stadium.
Ogunjobi lived for football and he was one administrator who devoted his knowledge, time and resources to ensure the development of the game in Nigeria and particularly his home state.
The late Ogunjobi was the NFA/NFF official that l had the most cordial relationship with as a reporter with THE GAME Football Weekly in Lagos. Even when l had to call him at odd hours, Chief Ogunjobi never complained. I must confess, he made my job easy as a budding journalist.
I was surprised to hear him call me by my name one particular night that l called him from Lagos over the transfer imbroglio of former schoolboy international, Ganiyu Oseni.
I could recollect a day Chief Ogunjobi narrated to me off record, the ‘football politics’ he played to ensure Enyimba won the CAF Champions League in successive seasons(2003 and 2004).
As part of his commitment to football, he put in an unquantifiable last minute effort to ensure the Super Eagles snatched the 2006 World Cup ticket from under the nose of Angola after the infamous 1-1 draw at the Sani Abacha Stadium in Kano but this was not to be.
Chief Ogunjobi was one administrator that was fair to all and helped several people to realise their ambition. I remember vividly the role he allegedly played in the emergence of former coach of University of Ilorin, Amusa Adisa as the Super Eagles goalkeeper trainer.
During his lifetime, Chief Ogunjobi was an individual that was consistent with his commitment to football.
As a player, he was the captain of IICC (now Shooting Stars) in the late 70s, winning two continental championships with the club. He was a catalyst for the success of IICC and was popularly known as Skippo by his teammates.
Upon his retirement, Ogunjobi moved into managerial roles and he remains the longest serving General Secretary of NFF as he was in office from 1996-2010.
He also served as the Chairman of the Technical Committee of the Federation.
After leaving his role at the Glass House, he returned to his home state where he was at different times, the Chairman of Prime FC, Osun Football Association Chairman and Osun United boss.
Chief Ogunjobi also held the position of the Special Assistant on football matters to immediate past governor of the State of Osun, Ogbeni Rauf Aregbesola.
He however failed twice in his bid to become the President of the NFF, losing on both occasions (2014 and 2018) to Amaju Pinnick. I had for long prayed to see Ogunjobi at the apex of Nigeria’s football but it’s quite unfortunate that such prayer will not happen following Monday’s shocking development.
Now that Ogunjobi is gone, l expect the NFF and the sports ministry to give him a befitting burial and to also immortalise him.
My thoughts are with his immediate family, especially his son, Ayo, may Allah grant them the fortitude to bear the loss.