Shaibu Retires From Professional Football
…describes Bendel Insurance as work in progress
By Friday Obanor
After five years of professional football, the Deputy Governor of Edo State, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu finally bowed out of competitive football and sporting activities at the weekend.
Announcing his retirement at a well attended press briefing held at the media centre of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium after he led the team to a one nil victory over Vadenzza Football Club of Lagos State, the last game in the NNL, Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu who was elated throughout the period of the briefing, said he was grateful to God that he is hanging his boots without injury.
He commended the State Governor, Mr Godwin Obaseki for the confidence reposed in him to lead the revamp of sporting activities in the State, and called on the Minister of Sports, Mr Sunday Dare and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to pay more attention to proper funding of the NNL as that level of the competition is the engine room of Nigerian football.
According to him, “the only way to improve on our Professional league is through proper funding of the NNL because that is the engine room and foundation of football in Nigeria. Many talented players in the likes of Austin Jay Jay Okocha were discovered from grassroots football like the NNL.
“The complaint of not having money to pay referees and other financial needs which almost marred the current season is not only detrimental to the growth of the game but also leads to discouragement of team participation”
Shaibu added: “Again, l am thanking Governor Obaseki for his vision and mission to return Edo State to its enviable number one position in sporting activities through strong and enduring policies, laws and facilities that will stand the test of time even when this administration has left office.”
“Edo State in the time of the late Samuel Osaigbovo Ogbemudia was the home of sporting activities in Nigeria, thank God the present administration has succeeded in returning it to that height and we as government would stop at nothing in making the state home of sports tourism in Nigeria and Africa in general” he assured.
Reflecting on his career as a professional footballer, Comrade Shaibu said he feels fulfilled haven assisted Bendel Insurance Football Club to return to the elite league in Nigeria and for having his number 40 jersey retired with him by the NFF, which is the first of its kind in the history of Nigerian football.
While describing Bendel Insurance as work in progress, Shaibu charged the coaching crew and the State sports Commission to ensure that the club maintains its standard at the NPFL, win trophies in local and continental competitions from the next football season.
He commended the efforts of the permanent secretary, Edo State Sports Commission Mrs Sabina Chikere for working hard to ensure that the Benin Arsenal as it’s fondly called, attained the glorious height it is celebrating now, adding that her commitment and industry cannot go un-noticed in the success story of the club.
“If there is anybody that l have really hit badly in the course of getting to where we are today, it’s the permanent secretary because as the governor is hitting me on our mandate to bring back the State to its number one position in sports in Nigeria, that is how I am mounting pressure on her”.