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Odegbami: Encounter With Samson Siasia – Forgotten so Soon?

Odegbami: Encounter With Samson Siasia – Forgotten so Soon?

To forget may be man’s greatest weakness.

We always forget. Even with the challenges we face on a daily basis, plus the endless vicissitudes of life, ‘forgetfulness’ seems to be a big challenge.

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I recall Chioma Ajunwa and the unfortunate circumstances surrounding her first ban by the IAAF on the eve of the Barcelona Olympics in 1992. Following the announcement of the ban, the Nigerian sports authorities, without hearing her side of the story, condemned her to ‘hell’.

Thereafter, life went on normally for everyone else but her, as if Chioma never existed in the first place. Yet, here was a young Nigerian girl that had just run and recorded the fastest 100 metres race in the world that year, and was poised to win a Olympic medal for her country, suddenly sentenced to a ban from all sports on the eve of her possible greatest triumph. Nigeria did nothing to help her, even with a simple enquiry.

Chioma’s life could have ended the day the ban was announced, mostly because she was not given a chance to tell her own story. Alone and humiliated, she carried her cross until the elements came to her rescue and rose to her defense. It took 4 harrowing years but, in the end, she was ‘rewarded’ with the ultimate prize in all of sport.

Still partially affected till today by the tar of that ban decades ago, she stands alone on a pedestal unmatched by any Nigerian (even African), living or dead, since that eventful evening in the city Atlanta, during the 1996 Olympic games, when her story was re-written in Gold letters, in a life-time best jump that can no longer be ever forgotten.

Samson Siasia’s present plight reminds me of Chioma’s story.

Until two weeks ago, Samson was a football hero, the third highest goal scorer in Nigeria’s history at national team level. He had been struggling to make ends since he was relieved of his national teams’ assignment. He was going through tough times without a regular job when his mother was kidnapped several weeks ago, and he had face the new ‘impossible’ situation of raising a ransom demanded by the terrorists that kidnapped her.

With that noose of survival tightening around his neck, the ultimate humiliation (a ‘death’ sentence) came tumbling down from FIFA, a body that Samson does not ordinarilyhave any direct dealings with, slamming him with a life ban.

I had him and the memory of Chioma at the back of my mind, knowing how sports persons are disrespected and disregarded in this clime. I was willing to give Samson the benefit of the doubt and find out directly from him the only thing that I needed to resolve in my mind, an unanswered but very important question – why did he not respond to FIFA’s written enquiry?

Last week, I was in Abuja to see Samson.

Just as in the case of Chioma, I wanted to peer into his eyes and find the truth in his words.

The man was badly traumatized.

He was in a state of disbelief.

Like me, Samson is an Olympian, sworn to certain ethics and conduct.

He told me his truth, and I chose to believe him.

I wondered after all, why it is so easy for people to dismiss the matter the way most did as if FIFA are infallible?

I had to put myself in Samson’s shoes to appreciate his simple and very innocent response.

I have been in football for almost 5 decades. The only time I have ever dealt directly with FIFA, in all that time, was when I lodged a protest concerning the integrity of the local elections into the Nigeria Football Federation, and they responded to my petition.

Beyond that, players and coaches have no business or a relationship with FIFA requiring any form of communication. If FIFA want to contact me now, it makes sense that they would either go through my national football federation, or through the email address they must have received from me several years ago, a Hotmail account that I discarded many years ago. Once in a very blue moon I visit the box and find thousands of ‘useless’ mails that I never even bother to read or respond to.

That’s the challenge of my generation. We pretend to be very IT savvy yet engage very little. I know some well-known footballers that would not even bother to engage the social media.

If Samson saw FIFA’s mail I believe him that he would have responded. Period.

Thereafter, there was nothing else for me to consider.

His job was limited to coaching Nigeria’s national teams.

FIFA had not listed any match involving Nigeria as being fixed.

Or could Samson have fixed a match not involving his own team?

So, if no Nigerian match is listed anywhere as having been fixed, how come Samson would be accused of match fixing allegations?

If the charge is only that he did not respond to their mail, then, surely there is a big mistake somewhere.

FIFA, I believe, was in haste or in anger when it took its decisions to fine and ban Samson Siasia.

Even the letter written to him requesting for his response to the allegation clearly states that failure to respond would attract a penalty of at least 10,000 Swiss francs and a possible maximum sentence of a two years ban. That’s what the letter said.

So, what justifies a life ban?

Well, that is FIFA’s headache to deal with Samson’s advised move to take the case to the Court of Sports Arbitration and to FIFA itself.

What I learnt looking him straight in the eye resolved my only confusion.

My problem now is how Nigeria and Nigerians are taking the matter outside of FIFA.

Also Read: Siasia’s Mother’s Abductors Lower Ransom Demand To N30m From N50m

Samson has been left in the lurch to carry the can of his ‘sin’, condemned and abandoned to his fate. Even his kidnapped mother’s situation has now receded in serious attention, forgotten and consigned to the back burners of public interest.

This is another classic Chioma Ajunwa scenario unfolding before our very eyes.

The least we can do is look again at the issues, and not dump Samson Siasia in the heap of our amnesia.

I need to remind us all that our national hero is going through a most horrifying, extremely painful and difficult experience of his life.

Nigerians must not forget or abandon him now.

I remind us all again that the design of the world order, of which FIFA is a very powerful and influential component, is never so that the Nigerian would thrive or succeed. For all we know, Samson may be a victim of such prejudice.

So, rather than forget him and his mother, who is still in captivity, let us stand by him and help him!

My prayer is that the elements take charge quickly as they did in 1996, and re-write the story of Samson Siasia. May the moment of this greatest challenge become the moment of his greatest triumph.


Femi Otedola

Femi Otedola – Thank You!

By the time you are reading this, it would be the fourth day since Peter Fregene was wheeled out of surgery for a lifesaving operation performed by a renowned Nigerian neurosurgeon based in the United States of America. Dr. Olawale Sulaiman was flown in for that purpose.

At the time I am writing this on Thursday morning, I have just spoken with Peter on his bed in the Intensive Care Unit of Reddington Hospital in Victoria Island, Lagos, one of the most expensive and best equipped hospitals in Nigeria, where he is recuperating after his surgery that was pronounced successful.

The big story is that since Peter Fregene entered Reddington for treatment several months ago, he has not set his eyes on his benefactor, the man who is footing the entire bill!


Fregene, before his admission into Reddington Hospital

This same man also intervened in the known cases of Christian Chukwu and Sadiq Daba both of whose overseas hospital bills he took care of. Now this.

The man does not want any of the noises associated with his generous philanthropy. He wants no attention or even acknowledgment for his gifts of life to the people he helps.

I use this opportunity to express, on behalf of all generations of Nigerian football players, our most sincere and deep gratitude for your intervention, help, support and unbridled philanthropy to Mr. Femi Otedola.

The Creator of the universe will reward him abundantly.

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  • Chima E Samuels 4 years ago

    God bless you sir!

  • Odegbami, you are one of Nigerian that I’m very proud of. God bless you.

  • Tnk u mr. Mathematical.

  • Bomboy 4 years ago

    Those who wanted to ‘kill’ this legend for criticising Rohr will not comment now….

    Mr. Segun, may God give us more people like you!

    • He criticised Rohr negatively, and well-meaning fans expressed their displeasure at such toxic words from the pen of someone who had sweated it out for the honour of his country. Like many other fans, I don’t hate him. I can’t afford to hate. 

      Odegbami’s change of tune is great. He’ll regain the respect we have for him. On the contrary, we have helped him to re-examine his contribution to Nigerian soccer 

    • Greenturf 4 years ago

      His posts on Rohr was bad.Some people like to promote or support what is theirs and do not see anything good from others.I don’t belong to that school of thought.
      Apparently,love is universal and that is how God wants it.Show that love to everyone after all we are all brothers from one God it doesn’t matter the skin of the colour or where you come from.
      His posts on Siasia is commendable and I think Rohr deserves better posts than the horror he scribbled on here.
      I hope Siasia gets a honest result from his appeal.As well his mum,hope she is released,this man has gone through a lot lately and needs our love.

  • Pompei 4 years ago

    Great article from THE MATHEMATICAL ONE. I also want to appreciate Mr. Femi Otedola for his generosity.

    The quote that really got to me in this artice is –

    I remind us all again that the design of the world order, of which FIFA is a very powerful and influential component, is never so that the Nigerian would thrive or succeed. For all we know, Samson may be a victim of such prejudice.

    I would only replace the word NIGERIAN with AFRICAN. Some would call this a CONSPIRACY THEORY or VILLAGE MENTALITY. However, in my opinion, the evidence supports Mr. Odegbami’s assertion! And if anybody asks me what the evidence is, my reply to him or her will be – You no get internet connection? Put it to use! Look for information, and you will find it!

    FIFA is gradually becoming a monumental nuisance to the game of football, as we know it. The monopoly power they wield allows them to do whatever they want, without any meaningful challenge or contest coming from any other place. A corrupt, racist organization fighting corruption and racism? Hahahahahaha! As already mentioned, the best thing we can do for Siasia now is to support him completely. Let the FIFA onionheads know that we don’t buy their allegations IN THE SLIGHTEST! UNTIL THE ALLEGATIONS ARE PROVEN BEYOND DOUBT, LEAVE SAMSON SIASIA ALONE!

  • Oakfield 4 years ago

    Does this article exhonorate mr sisia of the crime if he’s actually guilty? Of course not! Why don’t you push for a thorough investigation into the matter rather than publishing an article of sympathy generation. From experience, criminals caught in the act can pretend they are innocent, they can swear with their late parents names, some would even go as far as shedding crocodile tears all in a bid to buy sympathy and deceive the gullible. FIFA gains nothing by banning sisia , hence, the punishment seems to be genuine going by the fact that a very credible investigation might have been done in this regard. An intention to committing a crime carries the same penalty as committing a crime proper. Mr ex cricket international has just written this article in defence of mr sisia but this is one of the reasons why we are where we are today in this country. We, bcs of sentiments, personal relationships and interests tend to condone corruption even at the highest levels but thank God oyibo no Dy like us, they will give u the knock when u over step ur bounds irrespective of whom you are to serve as a deterrent to other aspiring criminals. Corruption has no place in football, hence, it needs to be dealt with it irrespective of the individual(s) involved.

    • Victor 4 years ago

      Even in the so called oyibo countries you are giving reasonable opportunity to defend yourself on any allegations. Was that the case here? Why was NFF not involved? After all most people have email boxes they don’t access from time to time. Even the enquiry letter stated 2 years penalty how come a life ban? These are issues that stark against FIFA. The truth is that Oyinbo system  is  high handed when dealing with blacks. Look at the American justice system on black Americans, any little offense they slam them to destruction and the way they treat traveling Nigerians even when there are few bad elements! For me let us give siasia the required moral support in his attempt to clean his name that is the least we can do. He needs it now that is why Mathematical article is pertinent. The feeling that his people love him enough to give him a benefit a doubt is an energizer to face his ordeal squarely. 

  • NUEL SMITH EVENTS 4 years ago

    Nigerians like to KILL their own. Like you said about FIFA investigation, you said MIGHT BE? Any investigation not concluded, is incomplete. Silence they say is acceptance of been involved in the crime. But if you read the word of Mathematical, he said ,Siasia didn’t reply a mail sent by Fifa, was fifa not meant to send the letter through the Nigeria Football Association. There is no harm in you trying to investigate, do more finding about the case, b4 saying detrimental comments about a Nigerian Football HERO.

  • Bomboy 4 years ago

    Cultural xenocenthrism is a social ‘disease’ that makes people value, respect and trust people from other cultures and race ahead of their own.

    That explains the attitude of some forumites toward our legends Siasia and Odegbami.

  • Sunny 4 years ago

    Uncle Sege, continue your good work, you will be a legend forever.People might insult you or criticized you regarding your article on Rohr. But history would be forever kind to you.

  • Soccer critic 3 years ago

    Thanks to the writer and kudos also to mr Otedola for saing the lives of our legens