Former Super Eagles coach, Clemens Westerhof, has been rewarded with a house in Abuja by the Federal Government of Nigeria 25 years after he was first promised.
The Dutch-born tactician who qualified and took Nigeria to their first ever World Cup in the USA and also won the Africa Nations Cup (Nigeria's first) in Tunisia the same year was presented his house in Abuja on Monday.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), who presented the letter of allocation to the 76-year-old at an impressive ceremony inside the conference room of the Ministry, said the occasion was further proof that the Buhari administration was “committed to putting right the wrongs of yesterday and redressing all forms of yesterday’s injustice”.
The former governor of Lagos State who is a football enthusiast apologized on behalf of Nigeria that the pledge took 25 years to redeem.
“Mr. Westerhof ended our long-time search for a FIFA World Cup ticket and afterward went on to lead the team to Africa Cup of Nations glory. As a nation, we made promises, but there was no follow-up.
“I want the NFF to document those members of the squad that have not received their houses in the FCT as promised and as soon as we receive this, we will respond positively.
“I was made aware that the promises had not been fulfilled through a letter by the assistant coach, Mr. Johannes Bonfrere, and we arranged for him to get his own in December 2017.
“Six months later, at the FIFA World Cup in Russia, a prominent journalist, Mr. Onochie Anibeze, brought it to my notice that the head coach, Mr. Westerhof, was yet to receive his own house.
“We immediately initiated the process which has culminated in today’s event.”
NFF President, Amaju Melvin Pinnick, who is out of the country on duty and was represented by the second Vice President of NFF, Mallam Shehu Dikko, praised the initiative of Fashola and his ministry.
He noted also that the redemption of the pledge would send out positive signals to footballers and other sportsmen and women that promises would always be fulfilled, no matter how long it took.
“At the last NFF Football Awards in Lagos on 1st April, we honoured especially this Class of 1994 Super Eagles," Dikko said.
“Those of them that are still alive and in the country were brought to the event and celebrated. We will compile a list of those who have not received their houses and revert back to the Ministry.”
A joyous Westerhof, who had flown into the country on Sunday night from the Netherlands, said: “I am overjoyed. I want to thank the Nigerian Government for this, and I want to assure you that you will now see more of me in Nigeria.
“Nigeria is my second fatherland, and I am proud of what we were able to achieve with the players in those years.
“They were disciplined, dedicated and determined to lift Nigeria high, and we took Nigeria from 79th position to fifth in the world.
“I am thankful. However, I feel sad that some of my players have left us. May their souls rest in peace.”