BY AUSTIN OTAS-OSEGBE
As the convoy arrived the arena – devoid of the usual fanfare and siren sounds heralding the presence of top government officials or VIPs, he alighted from his official car sporting a colourful football jersey. Within a twinkle of an eye, he made straight to the athletics tracks and sprinted round the stadium for over thirty minutes.
For the spectators and other guests present for the much publicized event of the day, it was an amazing scenario to behold the Edo State Deputy Governor Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip Shaibu, sweating it out like a professional sportsman preparing for a major championship.
Dateline: Friday, January 20, 2017 at the main-bowl of the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, Benin City – the Edo State capital- shortly before the commencement of a novelty football match between the ‘’Bench and Bar’’ in honour of the out-gone Chief judge of Edo State, Justice Cromwell Idahosa, as part of activities lined-up for his meritorious retirement from active service.
After the pre-match formalities between the two teams and match officials, the centre referee blasted his whistle to signal the formal commencement of the match with Comrade Shaibu featuring for the Bench, comprising legal luminaries and judicial officers such as High/ Appeal Court judges, Magistrates of Customary Courts and high ranking Senior Advocates of Nigeria (SAN). While the |Bar Team comprised majorly of practicing Lawyers from across the State.
The match started on a fast tempo with both sides sizing up each other with their cautious approach, but all eyes were on Philip Shaibu who left no one in doubt that he was on the turf for serious business as he displayed flashes of a core professional player with his mesmerizing moves that dazed the spectators who cheered him on for more scintillating and entertaining actions.
Indeed, the Deputy Governor held the fans spell-bound by making ceaseless goal-bound incursions into the vital area of the Bar Team. He was simply spectacular and outstanding each moment he held- on to the ball so much so that the excited crowd kept on singing his praises.
The enterprising efforts exhibited by Philip Shaibu paid off in no time when his side was duly awarded a penalty by the match umpire , after he was hacked down by an overzealous defender of the |Bench Team right inside the eighteen yard box, in a futile attempt to stop his dangerous foray towards the goal-post. His team-mates unanimously picked him to take the penalty kick and he lived up to the trust reposed in him as he confidently placed the ball in the penalty spot, waited for the referee’s whistle, after which he perfectly tucked the ball beyond the reach of the goalkeeper far into the extreme corner of the net. Expectedly, the goal was greeted with wild celebrations by the jubilant crowd.
On resumption of the second half, the expectations of the leading by two goals to one as Shaibu recorded his name on the score sheet in favour of the Bench.
On resumption of the second half, the expectations of the fans became so high as they became very anxious for more thrills and frills as a result of the skills and artistry displayed by both sides, moreso, when they were eager for more goals from the lethal boots of Philip Shaibu.
To be very frank, Shaibu by reckoning of many fans, was the man-of-the match as he was everywhere on the pitch with his unique style of play and ball distribution to his team-mates.
His unquenchable hunger for more goals with his top of the form runs earned the Bench Team a well- deserved second penalty of the match when the desperate central defender of the Bar tackled from behind and brought him down inside the box during a goal – mouth scramble, while the centre referee promptly responded by pointing to the spot for a penalty kick.
For a while, there was palpable silence on the part of the Bench Team supporters as their players clustered round themselves to decide who takes the penalty. Without much ado, the lot fell on the main striker who skillfully swerved the opponent’s goalkeeper to the wrong side and shook the net with a powerful shot, while their supporters- including the man being honoured (Justice Cromwell Idahosa) – erupted into ecstatic jubilation.
However, at the final blast of the referee’s whistle, the Bar Team had won the thrilling encounter with an emphatic five goals to two against their Bench opponent. Highpoint of the event was the presentation of the glittering golden trophy to the skipper of the winning Bar Team by no less a personality than the Deputy Governor of the Heartbeat State, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu, who doubled as the Executive Guest of Honour at the ceremony.
In a post-match interview with sport writers, the Deputy Governor expressed satisfaction with the high standard performance put-up by both sides even as he reaffirmed the commitment of present administration under the proactive leadership of Governor Godwin Negheghase Obaseki to reposition the Sports Sector and restore Edo State to her glorious era of sporting excellence in the comity of States in Nigeria and beyond. He commended justice Cromwell Idahosa (Rtd.) for the giant strides he made during his tenure, adding that he would be greatly missed by the government and good people of Edo State.
Also speaking, the Special Guest of Honour and Retired Chief Judge stated that he was highly elated for the honour done him and expressed his desire to continue to work for the upliftment of the Nigerian justice system-in particular and the country in general.
A football enthusiast who witnessed the exciting match had this to say; ‘’ It was amazing watching Philip Shaibu playing the round leather game. He really played like a true professional. For me, I am so delighted to say that he is such a multi-talented youngman, who no doubt, is a source of inspiration to our youths’’.
He stated further: ‘’ he put up a five – star performance and I think he is worthy of emulation by future leaders of our great nation, Nigeria who seek to actualize and sustain the dreams of our founding fathers’’.
Of a truth, Shaibu is akin to the proverbial golden fish that has no hiding place. He is one youngman that has been wonderfully crated and wondrously endowed with talents by the Divine Creator for the benefit of humanity.
Again, it will turn out to be a pleasant surprise for many to know that the number two citizen of Edo State, Rt. Hon. Philip Shaibu, is not only a football lover but has played competitive football during his school days.
Arising from the above, I hereby move the motion on behalf of all progressive – minded people of Edo State and indeed, patriotic Nigerians, both at home and in the diaspora, that we hail Rt. Hon. Comrade Philip (Musa, Osigbemhe) Shaibu, a worthy role-model and shining example for a better and brighter Nigeria – we all shall be proud of.
Finally, permit me to submit that the Deputy Governor is a portrait of a football maestro.
Source : SunOnline