Twenty-five years after the Federal Government made a promise of a house to Nigeria’s former Technical Adviser, Clemens Westerhof, for leading the Super Eagles to win the African Cup of Nations, it was fulfilled on Monday.
The house was handed over to Westerhof by the Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola.
The promise was fulfilled a year after that of Coach Bonfrere Jo, who led Nigeria to win the Gold of the Olympic Games in the United States of America in 1996 and was equally promised a house based on the feat of the Dream Team.
Speaking at the event at the headquarters of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing in Mabushi area of Abuja, Fashola said: “Football is a great unifier in Nigeria. It is one of area where religion, ethnicity and the things that are used to stoke us to anger take a back seat. It was the arena of expression of Clemens Westerhof in his service to Nigeria as our National team football coach.
“He ended our frustrating and unsuccessful attempts to qualify for the World Cup by qualifying the Super Eagles for their first World Cup in USA in 1994.
“As the Giant of Africa, we had not won the African Nations Cup since 1980 when we hosted it. Westerhof led us to victory in 1994.
“Many promises were made in our moment of euphoria and elation, one of which was the allocation of a house.
“That promise was never redeemed since 1994, a period of 25 years.
“Similarly, Johannes Bonfrere, better known as Bonfere Jo, was promised a house for leading us to our first Olympic football gold medal in 1996. That promise was forgotten, until it was redeemed by the Muhammadu Buhari government in 2018, after twenty-four years.
“It was the public announcement of that redemption that brought to light outstanding the commitment to Mr. Westerhof.
“I would like to thank the media for adverting our attention to Mr Westerhof’s case and in particular Mr. Onochie Anibeze who was later to serve as liaison.
“Once we became aware, we set to work in the housing sector of the Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to redeem the promise.
“On behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari and the Federal Government of Nigeria. It is my pleasure to redeem this promise and present the documents to the house which is being renovated in readiness for occupation.
“But as I titled my remarks, this is more than a house. It symbolizes the commitment of the Buhari administration to right yesterday’s wrongs, redress yesterday’s injustices and bring Nigerians together.
“This ranks high up there with:
“a) The payment of pensions of laid-off Nigeria Airways Workers who waited decades for justice;
“b) Those who participated in the civil war who were denied their pensions for decades
“c) The restoration of June 12 as Democracy Day.
“In spite of the labels to the contrary, these actions of the Buhari administration clearly reflects the actions of a Government of redemption, healing and unification.
“On behalf of the President, I thank you for your service to Nigeria and proudly redeem the promise made to you 25 years ago.
“I am happy that you are alive to receive it personally. It is indeed better late than never.”