A former board member and vice Chairman of the defunct Nigeria Football Association, Barrister Richard Nwabufor Obienu is dead. He died in his sleep, December 20, at his residence in Nnewi, Anambra state, according to sources.
His remains have been deposited at the morgue, pending further announcement by the family.
The former NFF Vice Chairman was prominent in the nation’s football circles as he was once a Director on the board of Rangers International Football Club of Enugu and later chairman of Udoji United Football Club.
Late Obienu began his romance with football at a tender age as his late father Clement Nwofor was a renowned football administrator in the 60s. He led the Port Harcourt Red Devils to win the Challenge Cup twice in 1962-63.
Late Barrister Obienu was on the board of the NFA between 1999 and 2002. In one of his interviews with Sports Vanguard, he recalled, “Tough moment, The saddest moment of my life in football was when I left my business for six months, having sacrificed so much to help the Super Eagles qualify for Korea/Japan 2002. Then, nobody believed that Nigeria was going to qualify; even the board gave up because we had problems with coach Bonfrere Jo.
I told them that if we sacked him Nigeria would still qualify but they made mockery of me. I told them that as long as they could appoint a Super Eagles co-ordinator that it could be done. That was how the then Secretary General Tijani Yusuf, told me to prove it. So, I left my personal business with Amodu Shiabu, Stephen Keshi, Austin Mgbolu and Joe Erico. We worked so hard to ensure that the team qualified.”
At the end Obienu, Shaibu Amodu, Sunday Oliseh, George Finidi and a host of others were not part of the Nigerian team for the Korea/Japan World Cup. The sports ministry made damaging changes that made Nigeria flop at the World Cup. It was bizarre.
After serving on the NFA board Late Obienu retired to his business. His battles with his personal health have been on for some time. In 2014 he survived two brain surgeries and lived a quiet life since then. But he always showed concern about Nigerian football.