Governor Godwin Obaseki must be appreciated for his massive support for sports in the state being the Chief Executive Officer. Of course, without him approving funds and accepting whatever plans the management in charge of the team has in stock, the team wouldn’t have been what it is today, Mr. Godwin Obaseki has done what seven men cannot do. He deserves his flowers over and over again.
However, Bendel Insurance FC didn’t just come to life without the effort of a man who envisioned what a government-owned professional football club should be like. That man is Rt Hon Comrade Philip Shaibu. Thanks to the support of his principal (Mr. Godwin Obaseki) which he hasn’t at any point taken for granted, the multi-tasking and multi-talented Shaibu definitely deserves his flowers too.
His human, physical and on some occasions, personal resources went a very long way in this success story of Insurance.
He is one sitting Deputy Governor who registered to play in a dead football team. This was a strategic bullet from his machine gun, to serve as a role model, moral booster and key motivator to the players.
Training with them alone is time-consuming and highly demanding. Joining the team to play away matches and home matches must have been overlooked by individuals who have decided to snub him in the team’s success story for whatever reason, certainly, this is not sporting but dirty politics.
I’m scared that this could be the beginning of the team’s downfall if people who have contributed massively to the team’s success are deliberately ignored by individuals who have no knowledge of the round leather game! Should Shaibu decide to play along with the childish behaviour of these overzealous praise singers and have his hands removed from Bendel Insurance FC, the team will go back to the mud it has been in for years.
Bendel Insurance got promotion to the Nigeria Premier League in 2018 but sadly, went back into relegation after one season. It was surprising the next move made by the club the following season – despite playing in the NNL, Bendel Insurance came up with plans of upgrading the players’ remuneration and other welfare packages, thanks to the very articulating Philip Shaibu and his principal, Mr Godwin Obaseki.
Bendel Insurance was rebranded and has been having new sets of jerseys every season with touches of professionalism coming to play in players’ signings, salaries payment, bonuses and special incentives that are always readily available for the guys from the purse of the Deputy Governor who was at the same time a player in the team. The club also got corporate sponsorship in the outgoing season, the highest any football club ever got in Nigeria.
Bendel Insurance FC from the lower division probably became the first NNL team to get shirt sponsorship and arguably the first in the country with a #50M deal from Sterling Bank PLC – Philip Shaibu, of course with the backing of his principal, Godwin Obaseki pulled this through to the surprise of the world, an NNL team pulling a huge shirt sponsorship deal.
Bendel Insurance after an impressive performance in the Nigeria National League returned to NPFL in style, winning their group in the NNL and went on to win the Super Four before starting their impressive run in the abridged NPFL. Godwin Obaseki has always been saying yes to every paper taken to his table by the management and Philip Shaibu, a good Deputy has been complimenting it with physical presence for the lads. Journeyed with the team in the 2021/2022 NNL season, the FA Cup and the preseason tournament played before the 2022/2023 NPFL season.
During the NPFL Super SIX, Philip Shaibu on two occasions was on the ground to compliment Obaseki’s ‘order’ for the team to go and enjoy the Super Six and despite the team’s poor performance during the Super Six, he was on the ground for the final and provided logistics for over four hundred supporters to fro Benin to cheer the team to success.
The success story of BENDEL INSURANCE FC is a typical case of the biblical Paul sowing and Apollos watering. Shaibu has taken the team as his pet and has been nurturing it like a well-planted rose.
The team has won a trophy that has eluded them for 43 years, all kudos to the two men of deep understanding whose names would remain in the heart of many Edolites for years, based on their huge transformation of Bendel Insurance FC.
Bendel Insurance FC is now the talk of the football world and will be flying the flag of Nigeria in the CAF Confederation Cup in August and this is the time we need these two men to keep the club’s fire burning with a lot of improvement and reinforcement that will see them excel in the continent.