• Wed. Feb 21st, 2024

No one in Edo State can really talk about modern Sports development without making mention of the immense impact made by one man; Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu. The name alone beacons transformation.

Today we celebrate the birthday of a transformational human who orchestrated a renaissance that reshaped the sporting narrative in Edo State.

Edo State used to be the hub of sports in the 90s and early 2000s, however, the narrative changed with time. To rejuvenate sports in Edo State, Governor Godwin Nogheghase Obaseki in 2016, knowing what capacity his deputy possesses, appointed Philip Shaibu to spearhead sports in Edo State. The results are evident for all to see the excellent job he has done in the sporting sector.

His passionate commitment to reviving sporting glory can be exemplified in the resurgent trajectory of Bendel Insurance and Edo Queens. Under his watch, Bendel Insurance most recently scripted an unparalleled saga, going unbeaten for an astonishing 26 consecutive games in the Nigeria Football League and the Federation Cup. Winning the Nigeria National League in 2022, Shaibu’s input propelled Insurance in 2023 to winning a major trophy for the first time in 43 years as they clinched the Federation Cup in Asaba.

However, Shaibu’s impact transcended mere victories and trophies; it was his emphasis on branding that set Bendel Insurance and Edo Queens apart, elevating the club to a distinguished status among other clubs. Travelling by air to distant match venues, ensuring the team has sponsors, and training with the team as a morale booster.

Even players of the team can testify of Shaibu’s love for the fan clubs, sponsoring their travel to away matches even after his retirement.

Any history book, that writes about the success of the 20th National Sports Festival without mentioning the role played by Philip Shaibu as the chairman of the Local Organising Committee obviously has done truth a disservice.

From the role he played as chairman of the Local Organising Committee, ensuring the renovation of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium to high standards with the inclusion of Video Assistant Referee Technologies, renovating the University of Benin Sports Complex, the building of stands at the Western Boys Mini Stadium, renovating basketball courts around Benin, renovating schools in Benin which housed the athletes. Despite the COVID-19 pandemic which rocked the world, Philip Shaibu as the LOC chairman remained dogged in ensuring the tournament was held. He ensured that the festival took place with the best safety practices.

However, since his removal as head of sports, the sector has encountered tumultuous times. The once pristine Samuel Ogbemudia pitch now stands forlorn, depicting the neglect that has befallen the sports infrastructure. A distressing proposal was sent by some to host a music concert on this deteriorated pitch three days before a football game but thankfully aborted.

The repercussions of Shaibu’s absence are glaring through the sports fraternity. The declining team performance serves as a stark reminder of his influential leadership and guidance sorely missed in the sector. His presence at match centres, home and away always gives the players some extra confidence they need.

Little wonder the team crashed out of the CAF Confederation Cup when his presence would have changed a lot — many would say that Shaibu knows the game and the politics and he surely would have carried Bendel Insurance on his shoulder to the group stage.

While in charge of sports in the state, we saw him invited by the Federation International Football Association (FIFA) on several occasions — draws, award gala, and World Cup amongst others. Shaibu no doubt put the name of Bendel Insurance back on the lips of many around the world. His taste for good match day production saw many see Bendel Insurance media as the topmost in the country by miles.

However, the media team seems to be declining and the team is looking like a sheep without shepherds.

A recent happening on match day nine against Kwara United where some miscreants descended on the coach and player showing the absence of the no-nonsense “street boy” Who never gave room to hoodlums laying ambush around the team.

Sport lovers in the state today, pray and hope that whoever is in charge of sports in Edo State continues the good work started by Philip Shaibu

As Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu celebrates this special day, Platinum News extends gratitude for his visionary leadership in resurrecting sports in Edo State.

Happy Birthday, Rt Hon Philip Shaibu!

Jokanola Bolaji

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