Ifeanyi Ubah: Loved in good times, forgotten in hard times
*His many good works should have held his friends behind him
Emergence of Chief Ifeanyi Ubah into Nigeria football was greeted with pump and pageantry. He had been a member of the Anambra state football Association for many years but not much was heard of this billionaire whose inroads into the oil business, took many by storm.
His sudden rise from grass to grace endeared him to many and within a little time, he has risen to become one of the biggest stakeholders in Nigeria and Africa football. No wonder, when FIFA president Gianni Infantino came calling, Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah virtually took over the shine. From leading a strong delegation to the Nnamdi Azikwe Airport in Abuja, to hosting the FIFA boss to a lavish reception at the Transcorp hotel and suites in Abuja, the football promoter was visibly present in action and magnanimous in spending.
He made that occasion a memorable one for all present and left his footprint in the sands of time.
….How did it all started? In 2013, after the Golden Eaglets won the FIFA Under 17 world Cup, in the United Arab Emirates, a grand reception was organised for the team on arrival and among those very visible on the day was this Anambra state business mogul who dazzled many with his wealth and gave the boys a pleasant reception still fresh in their memories till this day.
A few days later, the then NFF president, Aminu Maigari, on the advice of the then Anambra state FA chairman and vice president of the NFF, Mike Okeke Umeh, conferred on Ifeanyi Ubah the honour of “YOUTH FOOTBALL AMBASSADOR OF NIGERIA,” because of his well pronounced love and passion for youth football development.
That was his launching pad into mainstream football administration. His love for the game grew daily and in just a short time, he has leaped frog his contemporaries to become a name and a voice to be reckoned with in African football.
He won the Anambra state football association election to become chairman of the state FA, taking over from the incumbent chief Mike Okeke Umeh. His emergence has thoroughly brought new lease of life for football in a state once forgotten when football matters is being discussed. He set up FC Ifeanyi Ubah, a club that has quickly metamorphosed into one of the rising giants of African football after their debut appearance in the CAF Confederation cup competition just four years after it was formed.
He embarked on building one of the biggest games village on the continent. An edifice that houses a world class stadium with over 10 training pitches, state of the art shopping malls, police station, cinema, health care center and many more.
Apart from this he has invested his time, energy and money into the development of a sport he loves so much. He has bailed Nigeria football from difficult times and hosted our National teams to on so many occasions, leaving them with beautiful stories to tell.
The Super Falcons of Nigeria were among the biggest beneficiaries. After winning the Africa Women’s championship, the girls and their coaches had a swell time with chief Ubah at his palatial home in Maitama Abuja. Everyone present smiled home after tasting from the magnanimity of chief Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah.
He sponsored the very first edition of the COPA Lagos Beach soccer competition at the Eko Atlantic in Lagos, he bailed the National teams out of very precarious situations and dipped his hands into his personal pocket on many occasions to secure private jet to airlift the Nigeria National teams to international football assignments.
Chief Ifeanyi Patrick Ubah was there when the campaign train of Ahmad Ahmad touched down in Abuja in the final leg of his campaign towards becoming president of the confederation of Africa football (CAF) He was in the delegation that took Ahmad to the Maitama home of Senate president Bukola Saraki and later hosted him to a lavish reception at his abode in Maitama.
He was in the Nigeria delegation that went, saw and conquered in Ethiopia during the CAF elections and soon after that memorable event, chief Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah was picked up by men of the Directorate of state security DSS, about one month ago and till this day, he has been in incarceration, far away from his passion, his people, his family, friends and relatives.
He can no longer savour the joy of watching his darling club FC Ifeanyi Ubah play. In his absence, the club has climbed to fourth position on the 20 teams NPFL log, they have gone eight matches unbeaten and now stand out as the most feared team in the country.
Two weekends ago, they created a record never heard of in the history of the NPFL, when they went to Ibadan to defeat Shooting stars sports club by three goals to nil at the Lekan Salami stadium in Oyo state. That feet left tongues wagging but it happened behind the club’s biggest supporter who daily seeks to know the progress of a team he loves so much.
A promoter of the youth, a philanthropist per excellence, and friend of all, Dr Patrick Ifeanyi Ubah is the patron of the biggest and most followed league in Nigeria, the Nigeria Nationwide league, he is also the National patron of the sports writers association of Nigeria (SWAN), to whom he donated a 16-sitter bus and gave monies to maintain it.
Just last year, he took a delegation of over 160 football stakeholders to London for the signing of a multi million dollar partnership deal with West Ham United. On that delegation were chieftains of the NFF executive committee. Some chairmen of the various states FA’S, sports journalist and other stakeholders.
Abandoned in the time of his need: Many have benefitted from the magnanimity of this man, but today, as he wallows in the discomfort of incarceration, none, have summoned confidence to go pay him a visit. Nothing has been said or heard from the sport fraternity to eulogies his many legacies. Nobody in sports has deemed it wise to share a thought for a man who directly or indirectly, has touched the lives of over 50million Nigerians. We cannot all fold our hands and feign ignorance.
Was he accused of murder, has he been accused of killing anyone or has he been convicted by any court of law?
Since the answers to these questions are a big NO, then he deserves the right to be pitied and shown compassion. Every man who has benefitted from this man one way or the other must show love in his moments of crisis. We must rally round his family and let them know we care. We cannot run away from a man who has invested his billions into football because we claim that the issues that took him where he is today are non football related.
Is not from the same non football related monies that he bailed our football out of difficult times? Is it not the same non football related monies he used to set up FC Ifeanyi Ubah, a club that today, brings joy to the faces of thousands of Anambrarians? We must all rise up and show our solidarity to a friend because our day of distress may not be too far away and we will need men to come forth and rescue us. Stand out today and be counted.