…Eulogizing Festus Alenkhe’s consistent support for the Benin Arsenal
The Deputy Governor of Edo State Comrade Philip Shaibu has made a strong case for the Nigeria National League (NNL), calling on the relevant stakeholders, including the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports, and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to consciously direct resources towards the effective and efficient management of the second tier league body.
Shaibu made the appeal during a press conference at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium where he officially announced his retirement from active football, shortly after Bendel Insurance and Vandrezzer FC game.
He called a quit to his league football career after featuring
in the last match of the newly promoted Bendel Insurance FC against Vandrezzer FC which his club won by a lone goal
at the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City.
Bendel Insurance defeated Vandrezzer FC 1-0 courtesy of Benjamin Tanimu’s goal from the spot kick in the 43 minutes of the game to end their successful campaign in the Nigeria National League 2022 season. Insurance won all their home games; four away wins and four draws; three away losses to win the single promotion ticket from group B1 with 49 points.
The former Prisons FC and Water Cooperation FC of Akure midfielder pleaded with the Nigeria Football Federation and the Ministry of Sports to help the NNL in becoming the real engine room of the Nigerian football .all.
“The only way the NNL can be strong and virile as the engine room of Nigerian football is when the NFF and the ministry of youths and Sports put their eyes down and do all to support them in getting sponsorship so that there won’t be issues of owing referees their entitlement.
“It is embarrassing for us a nation to see that football league activities are put on hold or disrupted as a result of lack of money to settle referees indemnity and conveniently run the league according to the football calendar. But for us, we will continue to support the NNL in our best capacity to promote it because NNL is actually the most important League as talents are discovered there. I can do more advocacy for NNL now that my club is no more there. So, I will no longer be seen to be biased. NNL really needs help”. He submitted.”
Speaking further at the conference, Comrade Shaibu recounted the experiences on the journey back to the NPFL and expressed appreciation to his boss Governor Godwin Obaseki for his immense support and confidence he has in his team.
He specially commended the coaching crew led by Coach Monday Odigie and the entire management of Bendel Insurance FC led by Mrs. Sabina Chikere for their commitment and hardwork. “Thank you for standing firm and staying focused on the assignment given to you,” Shaibu said.
He also commended the management of the NNL over the noticeable changes and improvements in the last two league seasons. “We have seen improvement and it is good for us to say it because we also criticized them when they did not do well. This season,they have improved on that of last season. Kudos to NNL.”
“Today, we thank God that we are in the NPFL and we want to thank the coach Monday Odigie and the players”l
“I never settled for the less because I know that we can do better. The Edo State government is not in sports to make money, but we are in sports to change the narrative and to bring back alive the spirit of ‘Bendel number 1’. We started with building infrastructure, facilities facelift and upgrading,but now we shifted attention to building human capacity.
“Many had doubted us that we could not sustain what we started, but so far, we have disappointed them because we keep maintaining our facilities. The infrastructure is still solid and we will keep doing that as we now belong to the league of the best.
“We belong to NPFL and that’s where we will be, we will do everything to make sure that the momentum is sustained.
“I thank God I am in good health retiring from professional football. I’m leaving without injury and we won our last match, I’m happy for that.
“We are in NPFL now,we will not go down again like what happened after climbing in 2019 and returned immediately. We are going to keep and maintain our status as a big team in the top flight Footbal in Nigeria. We are going to do everything to motivate our team and push them to success.
“The next target is continental for the team and we will continue to support the team to achieve that.
“To our sponsors, Sterling Bank, we want to thank you for trusting in our team and we both have achieved the aim. We have achieved our target and we hope they(Sterling Bank)will now fulfil their promise of tripling the contract we signed last time.”
Shaibu ended his speech by stating the different teams he played for actively.
”For record purpose, aside from playing for UNIJOS school team in my tertiary institution days, I played at the NISFON U-20 tournament where we got to the quarter-finals. I played for the Foreign Affairs FC;the defunct Water Cooperation FC which was renamed Ijesha United of Akure and Nigeria Prison Service FC.”
Shaibu, a former Julius Berger player has been a registered player of the Benin Arsenal since the 2017/2018 season, contributing to the team’s promotion in the 2018/2019 season and also staying to play with the team since they went back to relegation.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Governor has eulogised Edo State NUJ Chairman, Festus Alenkhe, whom he said deserves the honour because according to him, “Festus Alenkhe has painstakingly followed Bendel Insurance as a big fan and supporter of the Benin Arsenal in all their matches both home and away giving out Twenty Thousand Naira to eveey first goal scorer in all our matches even before he became the Edo State NUJ chairman and this he has done faithfully and consistently even till this our last match,” he concluded.