The Federal Government on Monday fulfilled the promise it made 25 years ago to Nigeria’s former national team football coach, Clemence Westerhof, by handing over a house to him.
Westerhof helped the Super Eagles of Nigeria to qualify for their first World Cup in the United States in 1994.
The Minister of Power, Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola, said many promises were made to Westerhof in 1994 when the country lifted the African Nations Cup and also qualified for the World Cup in the US.
In his speech, which was made available to our correspondent in Abuja, the minister said, “He (Westerhof) ended our frustrating and unsuccessful attempts to qualify for the World Cup by qualifying the Super Eagles for their first World Cup in US 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.”
Fashola added, “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 24 years.”
The minister stated that it was the public announcement of that (Bonfrere) redemption that brought to light the outstanding commitment to Westerhof.
“I would like to thank the media for bringing Mr. Westerhof’s case to our attention and in particular Mr. Onochie Anibeze who was later to serve as liaison,” Fashola stated.
He noted that once the government became aware, it 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,” the minister said.
He noted that the presentation was more than a house, adding that it symbolised the commitment of the Buhari administration to right yesterday’s wrongs, redress yesterday’s injustices and bring Nigerians together.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung, noted that just before the World Cup in 1994, Nigeria was ranked fifth on the FIFA ranking, the highest any African country had attained till date.
Dalung who was represented by a Director in his ministry, Tayo Oreweme, expressed delight in the ability of the Federal Government to fulfil the promise that was made 25 years ago.
He said, “We are witnessing today, the fulfilment of the promise to the Technical Adviser of the Team, Mr. Clemence Westerhof, on the promise of a house to members of the 1994 set of the Super Eagles.”