Like millions of soccer-loving Nigerians at home and abroad I have been following with rapt attention the off-the-pitch “unfriendly match” involving two retired football greats, Austin ‘Jay Jay’ Okocha and Etim ‘Maradona’ Esin. Whereas the former hanged his boots voluntarily in a blaze of glory having conquered the soccer world with his great skills the latter terminated his soccer career in circumstances that were less edifying.
According to reports in the local media back home Etim went to see Okocha in his night club soliciting for some financial assistance. Okocha promised to give him ‘something’ using the opportunity to invite him over for a Christmas in-door party he was throwing in his house in Lagos. Etim came calling with his family, his wife and daughter. In the middle of the party a mobile phone was reportedly declared missing and lo and behold partakers in the happy event were declaring their innocence by opening up their bags for co-ordinated searches if only to satisfy their conscience that they never stole any phone.
Etim and his wife were not left out as the search was extended to them and as that was going on Okocha, who was not around as this was happening, sauntered in and instantly stopped the embarrassment on Etim and his wife apologising profusely with his wife equally apologising to Etim’s wife. And thereafter the party continued in peace even though the allegedly stolen cell phone was not recovered.
Ever since then Etim has been speaking of how he was messed up in Okocha’s house in the company of his ‘lovely’ wife and daughter. And he has amplified his position of disappointment by instituting or threatening to institute a hundred million Naira suit against Austin Okocha. According to reports the controversial radical Lagos lawyer, Festus Keyamo, must have been recruited for this litigation by Esin.
For Okocha, a gentleman and respectable breadwinner of a family, going to church for a thanksgiving service is called for because Etim could have been an enemy disguised all along as a friend; besides he could be a victim of physical assault by Etim. And Etim has since reacted angrily by saying that he too would be going to the mosque for thanksgiving questioning furiously if a gun were to be planted in his car with the Okochas branding him a robber!
A third neutral party has since intervened in the rancour. The CEO of the cable Sports channel, HiTv, where Etim worked Toyin Subair was utterly disappointed in Etim’s conduct that he had decided to relieve him of his appointment pending when certain conditions were met by Etim. Mr Subair was shocked to discover the ‘truth’ which sharply contradicted what Etim went to town with. He picked holes at Etim’s own doctored account of what transpired in the Xmas party expressing his fear of Etim who could do the same thing to whoever if he was allowed to get away with this one.
Etim even went as far as linking the military dictator’s name, IBB, who ‘cancelled’ cowardly the freest and fairest presidential poll we ever organized that produced the late Bashorun MKO Abiola as a clear winner. For Esin if he needed money then he would have headed up to Minna where his fellow Maradona, Gen. Ibrahim Babangida, would have doled out some cash to him as usual. So Etim does not care if Babangida had looted the treasury, all he cared for was his friendship with the ‘evil genius’ which fetched him Naira and Dollars?
Etim Esin was boasting of his fame and name telling those willing to listen to him that he had made name and money before Okocha asking his audience where Okocha was when he was importing open-roof cars and making waves in the field of soccer globally? Etim was unhappy that Okocha upon retirement invested in a night club business instead of football academy but he never told us when owning a night club by an ex-footballer became a crime morally reprehensible! To show how bitter he felt he said what was happening there were drug and prostitution!
But all things considered Etim is taking the matter too far exposing his apparent unstable state of mind in the process. He seems desperate economically. Yes, from the look of things he appears economically embattled leading him to say and do things unbecoming of his ‘status’ (if there is any status at all!)
The Okocha relation or whoever ‘ordered’ the search on the visitors ought to have waited for the owner of the house (Okocha) to appear on the scene before embarking on the action. The complaint of phone theft should have been directed first to him and his opinion sought before any untoward action was taken. The final decision should have been left for Okocha to take. Alas, like everything else Nigerian, temporal disorder was installed.
The whole story, plus and minus, smacks of a betrayal of goodwill out of bad faith. It is an unfriendly cut if not blackmail. There is a relative connection between the ‘Abati-gate’ and the Okocha/Etim altercation. While Etim is kicking vehemently against the treatment he received while attending the Okocha Xmas bash — perhaps out of innocence — Dr Abati in the face of the ‘Abati-gate’, perhaps feeling guilty, has decided to maintain an undignified silence while the army of anonymous internet warriors battle the rest of us rightfully demanding his own account of the ‘SaharaReporters’ exposé.
One does not really know precisely where to situate Etim’s bitterness and agony here? Or does his anger have anything to do with accumulated bottled-up animosity towards Okocha while hypocritically playing to be a friend? Why didn’t he walk out on the Okochas after the ‘ugly’ incident since he felt strongly about the whole ‘drama’ if only to register his indignation?
Rather he reportedly stayed put, ate and drank to his heart’s satisfaction and even collected the ‘estacode’ offered by Okocha as Xmas gift only for him to go home and turn around and started playing glorified victim of a ‘set-up’. Whatever Okocha stood to gain by ‘setting-up’ a bankrupt Etim is left for the imagination.
There is an undeserving air of haughtiness around Etim Esin. He comes across as a misguided fallen soccer hero whose frustration in life calls for some empathy. Yet Etim Esin manifests certain traits of envy, of ‘how I wish I were him’ syndrome towards ‘JayJay’ Okocha.
If a cowardly fugitive (who was not man enough to prove his innocence in a Belgian rape saga) could be alluding strongly to ‘clearing his good name’ from an inconsequential incident that took place in the residence of his supposed friend then making name would need another definition indeed. Then our dear Dr Reuben Abati could as well continue clinging on to some moral uprightness by keeping a deliberate unwarranted silence in his Abuja land allocation scam.
What ‘name’ for goodness sake does Etim seek to protect by the way? A ‘filthy’ name that was once accused of stealing an item? The same name that was associated with rape in Belgium involving a minor? The same Etim Esin that was ‘terrorising’ his coaches with his nocturnal outings in the eve of major tournaments or matches like Romario of Brazil?
Etim has a history of dishonourable behaviour(s) and besides is it not normal that someone who loses a thing declares openly his loss? Who is Esin that he would not be subjected to a mild search like the rest of the guests in the event of a mobile phone loss? Or did the accusers search his wife’s private part!?
What the hell is wrong with our compatriot, ‘Maradona’ Etim Esin? This is the question on the lips of millions of Nigerians and non-Nigerians alike staying tuned to the Okocha/Etim Xmas party saga. Whatever is wrong with Etim cannot justify his penchant for defending the indefensible in this matter confusing issues and playing mendacious smartness.
Etim’s hundred million Naira Okocha ‘project’ is laughable. The anti-friendship suit against Austin Okocha is flawed from the very beginning and therefore doomed to fail. Even if Barrister Festus Keyamo is a magician i
n jurisprudence (something he is not!) the legal battle will not only be interesting but will demonstrate in a large measure how not to be a good friend. In the end Esin will be decorated with another ‘medal’, this time a misadventure in a useless litigation.
If Etim Esin is seeking to be 100 million Naira richer then he should not exploit an innocuous incident at Okocha’s home to achieve this. Rather a visit to the Synagogue in Lagos and a rendezvous with Prophet T.B Joshua might help. There, the controversial prophet might prophesy prosperity this year for him while delivering him from whatever psychological or mental problem that may have been afflicting him lately.