Former Super Eagles defender and Under 23 assistant coach, Ben Iroha who happened to play with the deceased both in Iwuanyanwu Nationale (now Heartland FC of Owerri) and the national team said the government of President Jonathan should please extend the hand of fellowship to the family of Oliha as he did with the 1996 Olympics 4 x 400 meters athletes that were rewarded few days ago by fulfilling all the promises made to the 1994 members of Super Eagles by the administration of the late head of state, General Sani Abacha.
In his word, Iroha describing Oliha, he said; “He was not just a colleague, he was a friend, we started together in this home based thing since 1989 when Westerhof first came to the country, we are the first set of the home based that formed the bulk of the 1994 squad. I also played with him in Iwuanyanwu Nationale, we were actually roommates, and he has so much passion for the game.”
While thanking God for his life he further said; “We thank God for his life, he is a legend, if the government can as a matter of urgency fulfill the promise the government of Sani Abacha made to us in 1994 now for his family as they did in the case of the athletes that won gold in 1996, it will be a great thing.”
As for the commitment of ex-internationals to the family, Iroha said it is an individual thing but what is most important is to call on the government to see to the welfare of the children.
“The only thing we as the ex-internationals can do is to pass the message to the government to do everything they can do to help this family now that the bread winner of the home is no more,” he said. For Edema Fuludu, he was sad that a promising young man is gone leaving behind such young kids.
While advising the government to set up a foundation that will cater for the welfare of ex-internationals that died, he advised that government should see to the education of the kids left behind by Oliha.
“Very unfortunate he left so soon, although death is a necessary end, it will come definitely, this was very pronounced because he was an ex-international, someone who brought glory to this country, I can tell you that the ex-internationals are not really recognized in this country.
“Now he has died, people will come and pay tribute upon tributes, but noting is coming out at the end of the day, it will only remain the family. I am not saying ex-internationals should be treated like destitute, but if we are alive and promises are made, it should be fulfilled. Imagine he played in 1994 and till today the houses promised by the federal government are yet to be given to any members of this squad that is what we are talking about.
“I don’t really blame the government because we the ex-internationals, we don’t have a single voice, people are just on their own individually, some are comfortable while some are not, but that is just the way life is. All fingers are not equal, but we have to come together and formed a single voice so that we can have a common front at every point in time, so that what we need we can get it,” he advised.
He however says the best way to immortalized him is to sponsor the kids to the highest level in their education.
“I cannot specifically say this and this is what to be done for the family, we’ve seen situation in the past where someone died and it was agreed to set up a competition in honor of such player. Sam Okwaraji died, we say lets play an annual football competition for him, after two years, nobody was playing the game again, after two years, there was no funding, so it is terrible.
“When you say immortalized him, what do you want to do? We need to set up a foundation for people like this who has brought glory to the Nation; the kids are there, two young kids, who will cater for their education?
Immediate family might not even care at the end of the day, because nobody can take care of your own as you, but if we have a foundation like that, then the children can be cater for. That is the only way we can immortalized him. Let the children have education to the highest level,” he concluded.