The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has expressed shock at the death of its former Secretary General and one-time Member of the Executive Committee of the federation, Chief Taiwo Ogunjobi.
The 66-year old former international defender passed on early hours of yesterday after a brief illness.
“I cannot find the words as much as I try. A very big tree has fallen in Nigerian football and we are all devastated. If the NFF had a flag of its own, it would fly at half-mast for several weeks.
“Chief Ogunjobi was one of the strongest pillars of association football in Nigeria and the entire Nigerian football fraternity will miss him badly.
The Members of the NFF Executive Committee, Management and Staff of the NFF, Members of the Congress, eminent football stakeholders and other workers in football in these shores are in shock,” President of the NFF, Amaju Melvin Pinnick, said on Monday.
Similarly, Chairman of the League Management Company (LMC), Shehu Dikko, in a tribute to the late football administrator said he had difficulties coming to terms with the news of Ogunjobi’s passing and described him as someone who has played a big role in the nation’s football as a player and an administrator.
In the words of Dikko, “Chief Ogunjobi is one of the heroes of League football in Nigeria having captained IICC, a traditional club in our league system that stands today as an institution.
“He also later led the club as an administrator to the CAF Champions League finals before rising to the pinnacle of football administration in the country as Secretary General of the NFF.”
The LMC Chairman announced that in honour of the fallen football hero, a minute silence would be observed before kick-off at all NPFL Match Day 9 fixtures on Wednesday while players and coaches are also to wear black armbands as a mark of respect for the dead.
Governor of Osun State, Gboyega Oyetola, described the late Ogunjobi as an illustrious son of the state who served diligently till he breathed his last.
“As the Chairman of the Osun State Football Association, he gave his best in the service of the state, galvanizing the youths and pushing for the development of sports, football in particular,” Governor Oyetola said in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr Adeniyi Adesina.
“I commiserate with the widow, children, family members, friends and the Nigerian sporting family, over this irreparable loss.
“Ogunjobi will be sorely missed. He gave his best as a club football player, national team player, and as an administrator, who rose to the pinnacle as Secretary General of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
“His tenure as Osun State Football Association chairman brought tremendous development to football in this state. May his soul rest in peace,” Governor Oyetola said.
He enjoined the family to take solace in the fact that “he lived a life of service to God and humanity.”
Ogunjobi, an ebullient and respected football administrator, captained the first set of Nigerian academicals to defeat the Ghanaian academicals in the early 1970s and was a key member of then IICC Shooting Stars FC of Ibadan before he travelled to the United States of America for further studies. This was the reason he was not part of the IICC’s Africa Cup Winners Cup-winning squad of 1976.
He returned to Nigeria a few years later, and was a member of the young Green Eagles’ squad that Chief Adegboye Onigbinde coached to win the silver medals of the 1984 Africa Cup of Nations in Cote d’Ivoire.
It was time to make his mark in administration, as he won plaudits and fame managing IICC Shooting Stars and Julius Berger FC of Lagos at various times, before becoming the Secretary General of then Nigeria Football Association in 2002. He was in the position for three years.
Fondly nicknamed ‘Skippo,’ Ogunjobi, in 2006, won election into the Board of the Nigeria Football Federation, under the presidency of Alhaji Sani Lulu Abdullahi, and served meritoriously as Chairman of the Technical Committee.