Final burial rites for late Nigerian Captain and Coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, will start in Benin City, Edo State tomorrow morning even as funds have hampered plans by the Federal Government to give him a heroic burial.
The Federal Government has now said it will play its own part for the late soccer icon’s burial after the Rio 2016 Olympic Games because of a combination of factors.
“We don’t want a haphazard burial for such a great patriot, that is why the Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, has said the FG will play its own part after the Olympics”, declared a top sports ministry source. “We will unveil details after the Games in Brazil,” the source added.
The Keshi family is however going ahead with the burial plans beginning with a Church Service on Thursday, July 28 at St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Benin City by 9am. After that the late ‘Big Boss’ as Keshi was fondly called in his playing and coaching days will be moved to the Samuel Ogbemudia Stadium, where a novelty match will be held in his honour, followed by his body lying in state for his numerous admirers to pay their last respect. The match is being organised by his former teammates led by Austin Eguavoen, who has also captained and coach the national team.
After his remains move to Asaba, the Delta State capital, where his body will again lie in state at the stadium named after him by former Delta State Governor, Emmanuel Uduaghan on Nnebisi Road.
From Asaba, the body will leave for Illah, his homestead. On entering Illah, the body will be received by the Obi of Illah, HRH Obi Gbemudu along with his high chiefs. Keshi himself was a high chief of the Illah kingdom.
After that the body moves to St John’s The Evangelist Catholic Church for a requiem mass. Next port of call will be his home in Illah, where the body will again lie in state for an hour before internment at the same venue.
It is expected that there will be heavy presence of officials of the Edo and Delta states government at these events heralding the glorious exit of a man who brought glory not only to the two states but the entire Nigerian nation and indeed Africa.