Remembering Slain Uzama as Iduoriyekemwen tasks youths not to be used for violence

By Daily Sports on January 3, 2019

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It was a beehive of football activities all over the country as grassroots and community football teams held their annual ‘End of Year’ football matches. 

in Benin City Edo State, a community football team which is located at St Savior area of Benin played its ‘End of Year’ match at the Enikaro Primary School field which is located in the area on December 31st. It was a game which drew a mammoth crowd to the pitch as former players and present players who train in the Enikaro field all filed out for the interesting yearly ritual. 

The game of the day was between hosts St Saviour and visiting Excellent Stars (a collection of present and past football players invited for the occasion.)

One person that many trooped out to watch and who started the game for St Saviour was former Majority Leader of the Edo State House of Assembly Hon. Matthew Iduoriyekemwen. 

By far the most notable individual from St Savior, Iduoriyekemwen is a popular figure amongst the locals and his every touch was greeted with cheers during the about 20 minutes he lasted on the pitch, in a game which St Saviour eventually won 4-1. 

Immediately after he was substituted in the first half, Iduoriyekhemwen faced newsmen and took questions from Independent TV (Benin City) sports presenter Comrade Emerson Edosa. 

One of the interesting questions Edosa asked was what Iduoriyekhemwen’s advice is for youths during the forthcoming general elections. 

His response was pointed. Iduoriyekhemwen said: “Youths should not allow themselves to be used as tools for violence in the coming elections. No politician’s personal interest is worth the life of any youth. Also the youths have to remember that these politicians across party divides are friends and after all the public political disagreement between them, they still meet and align with themselves sometimes. So it’s not wise to be used by these people to former violence during the polls.”

Iduoriyekhemwen’s comments echo those of us in the streets and in our homes. It’s quite interesting more instructive that it is coming directly from the lips of a major political actor in Edo State. 

* * *

Remembering Douglas Uzama

It’s been about two years now since Nigerian Junior International Douglas Uzama was shot dead in Benin City while on holiday. The then Gombe United left back was a player full of life and footballing talent, and was tipped for great things in the game until murderous hands cut short his dreams. 

Here, I would like to reproduce the article I wrote on his death two years ago. He was 18. 

Have you ever been referred to as a Jew? Yes, ‘Jew’. If you are a male youth and not a member of any clandestine organisation in Nigeria, chances are that you must have heard the term and it must have rankled you.

The word ‘Jew’ (I wonder whether it has any anti-Semitic origins here in Nigeria) is used to refer to guys who are not members of cult groups. It is a term often used derogatorily and connotes weakness, lack of ‘orientation’ on how to best live life and a certain lack of identity.

The opposite term to Jew is called ‘injus man’. The ‘injus man’ is the cultist who is considered in the streets the hard man. He is the one with the right orientation for living life. So the narrative goes. The ‘injus men’ are the fine boys, the deadly guys too. And with just a few days to the new year in the city of Benin in Edo state, the ‘injus men’ reportedly struck, shooting to death a promising and very talented footballer, Douglas Uzama.

The killing of Uzama has sent shock waves around Edo State and beyond. Underneath this current of shock and grief is a suspicion that the Nigerian junior international was a victim of inter-cult battle in Benin and that he himself was a cultist who was targeted by a rival group looking to score some huge psychological and vengeful points.

Was Uzama a Jew or an ‘injus man’ himself? I honestly don’t have enough information to confirm that. But here’s what I do know: The prevalence of cultism amongst Nigerian youths is a reality. It’s become something of a subculture in the streets. The rarity now is for a young healthy man to choose to remain a ‘Jew’.

I also know that many of these cult boys are usually everyday guys, working hard to make ends meet. Many are thoughtful and generally nice young men, despite their sometimes misguided utterances and actions. Many just want to get by and be of help to their families and people around them. Most are not blood-thirsty murderers. Most, like the rest of us, would prefer an ideal world where they would not want to fear walking through the streets.

Why am I saying all of these? We shouldn’t allow the senseless slaying of Uzama to make us give up on our youths. In every group, in every society and in every age, there are those so filled with hate and of a murderous bent. You will find them in and out of cult groups. They shouldn’t be allowed to win by our sinking into ceaseless despair. The police most do their job and fish out those who have killed this promising star. We don’t need the ranting and demonisation of ‘injus men’. All we need is to be reassured that we can be safe around our youths because the security agencies are up and doing.

The Douglas Uzama that I know was a humble lad. I saw him rise from grassroots football in the playing fields of Benin City to the national team and Nigerian Premier League football. His professional attitude on and off the pitch was impressive. I remember how enthusiastic he was to talk about his experience with the Under-21 team when we last chatted on Facebook some months ago. He will always remain in our thoughts.

matthew

•Photo shows Matthew Iduoriyekemwen

Source Daily Sports

Posted January 3, 2019

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