The Nigeria football firmament was badly shaken on Thursday after news filtered in that a former Chairman of then Nigeria Football Association, Brigadier-General Dominic Obukadata Oneya (rtd) had died.
He was 73.General Secretary of the NFF, Dr Mohammed Sanusi, who broke the sad news, said he was devastated beyond words because he spoke to the revered former military chieftain on Wednesday – a matter of hours earlier. “We spoke on Wednesday because I conveyed to him information that the NFF had appointed him as match commissioner for the men’sAITEO Cup final coming up on Sunday in Benin City. He told me he would prefer to drive down to Benin from Warri on Sunday morning. He sounded healthy and full of life. May his soul rest in peace.”
Ebullient, avuncular, unclamorous, diligent, a lover of people and a stickler for excellence, Dominic Obukadata Oneya was born on 26th May 1948, and served as military administrator of Kano State between August 1996 and August 1998, when he was redeployed to Benue State in the same role, serving there until the return of democratic rule inMay 1999.
Oneya then served as Chairman of then Nigeria Football Association (now Nigeria Football Federation) between January 2000 and October 2002, overseeing Nigeria’s silver –medal winning outing in the 2000 Africa Cup of Nations that the country co-hosted with Ghana, a successful Korea/Japan FIFA World Cup qualifying campaign, Nigeria’s bronze medal outing at the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations in Mali and the Super Eagles’ outing at the FIFA World Cup finals in the Far East the same year.
“General Oneya was a gentleman to the core. Someone you can call at any time of day or night for advice and he would always oblige. His death is a huge loss to Nigeria Football,” Dr Sanusi added.
After leaving office as supremo of Nigeria Football, Brigadier-General Oneya served the Confederation of African Football (CAF) in various capacities, including as a Member of the highly influential OrganizingCommittee for the Africa Cup of Nations.