Shaibu the ‘Father of the New Bendel Insurance’ reaps the reward of diligence with honour from the Olympics Family

 Shaibu has also been commended by many members of the Sports Family like the president of the Handball Federation of Nigeria (HFN), Samuel Ocheho

Shaibu the ‘Father of the New Bendel Insurance’ reaps the reward of diligence with honour from the Olympics Family

When Governor Godwin Obaseki made his deputy Philip Shaibu the face of his campaign and informed Edo citizens that he will revive the state’s moribund sports industry, many probably took his words as another campaign promise that may not be fulfilled. But today, Shaibu has not just revived sports in the state, he has turned Edo into Nigeria’s number one sports destination, with many awards and accolades to show for his feat. As the Olympics Family honours Shaibu on Thursday, July 13, Olukayode Thomas looked at how his Midas Touch revived Edo Sports Industry.


‘Seest thou a man diligent in his business? He shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before unknown men.’

The above quote from the book of Proverb 22: 29 (KJV) aptly captures what is happening to Philip Shaibu, the Edo State Deputy Governor, who today July 13, 2023, at Shehu Musa Yar'Adua Centre, Abuja, will stand before Kings, Captains of Industries, Diplomats, Legislators, and other VVIP as the Nigeria Olympians Association (NOA) bestow on him ‘Special Achievements and Recognition Award’ for his contributions to sports development in Edo State and Nigeria.

Shaibu restoration of ‘Bendel Breach’ back to Bendel Insurance

When Obaseki gave his deputy the task of reviving sports in Edo State, Shaibu knew that whatever he achieved will amount to nothing if the lost glory of Bendel Insurance is not restored.

For Bendelites (indigenes of Edo and Delta States), Bendel Insurance is not just a football club, it is a religion, adored by millions of zealous devotees.

One of the most dreaded football clubs in Nigeria and beyond, at the time Shaibu was given the task of reviving the club, it has moved from being 'a sure insurer’ for Bendelites to a club that ‘breaches insurance’.

The team’s woes started in the 2007–08 season following an ownership tussle between the Chairman of the club then Igbinowanhia Ekhosuehi and the then Edo State Commissioner for Sports Brown Ebewele.

And for 11 years, Insurance was in the lower division of Nigeria’s club football.

“The players used to wear tattered jerseys; no provision was made for a serviceable vehicle to transport players and officials to and from match venues.

“The team used to travel long distances on match days and players usually were exhausted by the stress before matches. The players did not have a camp that was conducive for training,”

This was the team Shaibu inherited. Recalled the Deputy Governor in an earlier interview, “In 2017, the state Governor gave me a marching order to rebrand Bendel Insurance FC and other sporting activities in the state. The spirit in the club was low. The club had 300 staff to 30 players, players were owed”.

The insurance road to recovery began when Shaibu disbanded the club and started a brand new team that will be a model for others.

“We were determined to have a professional club in every sense of the word and in all ramifications, we understudied many international clubs and produced a document for Bendel Insurance and Edo Queens”.

Shaibu’s revolution yielded the desired results quickly as Bendel Insurance soon returned to where he rightly fully belonged, the elite of Nigeria football-the Premier League.

An elated Obaseki described Shaibu who led the team to his office as the ‘father of the New Bendel Insurance FC and commended him for the giant strides he made in rebranding the club.’

Today, Shaibu has made Insurance the envy of other clubs, “I am delighted to inform you that Insurance players don’t wash jerseys again.  We give out jerseys to fans after the match and wear brand-new ones for the next match.

“That is why you see that at every Insurance match, fans gathered around our players to collect their jerseys after each match. There was a match we played in Jos and we saw many fans wearing Bendel Insurance jerseys with the name of Sarki on their jersey. We later discovered that Sarki normally sends all his used jerseys home.


“ I am happy to tell you that our players have all kinds of kits, they have dress code and manual, and they are highly disciplined, you can never see our players harassing referees.

“We are committed to their welfare. You never hear of our players protesting over none or late payment of the allowance. Before former CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele introduced cashless policy, we introduced online payment for our players.

 “All bonuses paid after 30 minutes, after matches and salaries, 24th of every month, we never owe.

“As a former player, I normally come to their level. I am elated with the performances of Insurance and Edo Queens. Whatever we have achieved was by teamwork, so I congratulate everyone”.

Shaibu as calm as Aldof Ogi

In my over two decades as a reporter, I have interviewed many people, both the low and the mighty but my experience with former President of Switzerland Adolf Ogi was special.

On a bitterly cold evening in Magglingen, Switzerland, I approached President Ogi for an interview, it was granted at the speed of lighting.

Unlike the norm in Nigeria where you have to go through a retinue of aides and very tight protocol before you can get an interview with a government official, my experience with Shaibu was akin to my experience with Ogi.

There were no aides hovering around him when the request was made and he agreed promptly.

Dressed in simple Comrade Khaki, it was just this reporter and Shaibu with no aides. There was no go area, as he gave the reporter the liberty to ask any question.

In uncommon simplicity, Shaibu revealed that the priority of the Obaseki-led Edo State Government was to use sports to make Edo State a tourist destination.

Shaibu, “ After our victory, I took over sports in the state. Then sports in the state was nothing to write about, it was at the lowest ebb in every aspect of the word lowest. The facilities, and equipment were not there, the welfare of athletes and officials was also not the best, and young men and women struggle to represent the state.

“I witnessed a situation where athletes on their own got wielder to wield equipment together. It was that bad.

“i Went round to assess the situation in every part of the state, it was like wandering in the wilderness, one does not know where to start from.”

At the end of the tour, Shaibu decided to start with infrastructure, “because we had planned to use sports as one of the pillars of promoting Edo as a tourist destination. We started with building a sports-friendly stadium that could be used for any sport like athletics, football, and others, especially by broadcasters. I personally supervised every aspect of the construction “.

Today, Edo State has a world-class stadium, with natural turf and refitted running tracks; tennis and squash courts, a new Olympic size swimming pool and an indoor suspended gymnasium. Other facilities at the stadium include those for weightlifting, wrestling, and other combat sports. The Stadium has also been outfitted with new high-capacity electronic score screens, floodlights, and Video Assistant Referee technology.

After building the facilities the next thing was to host the National Sports Festival to showcase the facilities.

Next was the festival which was adjudged by local and international sports aficionados as the best ever in the history of the Nigeria Olympics. After NSF, the next on the agenda for Shaibu was setting up a proper Sports Commission to replace the old Sports Council,

“We decided to look at the laws that set up the Sports Council and Sports Commission. We called knowledgeable people and looked at other examples and best global practices. So what we did was not just a change of nomenclature. We also started looking for men and women who have a good understanding of sports administration and management and are passionate about sports.

“And we got the finest and the best, like Yussuf Alli and Sabina Chikere from Lagos State and other seasoned technocrats, good men and women, who will provide good leadership. We turned our attention to having a sound sports program and the welfare of athletes. Like our footballers our athletes' welfare, allowances, and salaries are paramount, they are paid as when due”.

Shaibu's other achievements and Edo as a Sports Destination

With good facilities, sound administrators and a friendly state Shaibu has within a short time turned Edo into a destination of choice for all sports activities like road races, volleyball, tennis, athletics, football, conferences, seminar, elections, and other sports-related events in Nigeria. Today, Edo State is the premium choice of all the sports associations and federations in Nigeria.

Shaibu apart from excelling as a sports administrator and turning around the fortune of Edo Sports, until recently an astute football player, was the first governor or deputy governor to register and play in the Nigeria Football League, he also won a gold medal at the Edo 2020 NSF which he successfully organized during Covid-19.

But by far Shaibu's biggest achievement was his investment in a rookie sprinter Enoch Adegoke who made the final of the 100m, the Olympic Games' most prestigious event, at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.

While his colleagues were adopting established athletes like Blessing Okagbare, Tobi Amusan, Blessing Oborodudu, and other world beaters who didn’t need to be adopted, Shaibu chose to adopt and invest in Adegoke a rookie sprinter from Oyo State.

The result was Adegoke making the finals of the 100m a feat no Nigerian has achieved since 1996.

But for injury, Adegoke would probably have surprised bookmakers in Tokyo just as he did in making the finals.

Shaibu still celebrated the sprinter though he didn’t make the podium “Edo people are very proud of the performance of Enoch Adegoke. He was a medal hopeful until that muscle pull. The incident in the final was unfortunate as his takeoff was very good just about 40 to 50 meters before the bad luck in the game caught up with him. We will celebrate with him,”

A prophet celebrated at home 

Shaibu’s diligent work has not gone unnoticed, apart from his Governor celebrating and commending him and calling him ‘the new Father of Bendel Insurance’, he won the Best Sports Performing Deputy Governor and has been named Nigeria's Sports Governors Merit Award winner in 2022. ‘In recognition of his unprecedented investments and achievements in Sports Development in Edo State’.

Shaibu also won the 2020 Sun Newspapers Sports Personality of the Year Award for his exceptional contributions to the growth of sports in Edo State, and the Sportsville Recognition Award.

 Shaibu has also been commended by many members of the Sports Family like the president of the Handball Federation of Nigeria (HFN), Samuel Ocheho

“I must say that Edo State is one of the progressive states in Nigeria that has massively transformed sports and it is evident in every sport”. The NOA award is just the icing on the cake

PULL QUOTE: at the time Shaibu was given the task of reviving the club, it has moved from being 'a sure insurer’ for Bendelites to a club that ‘breaches insurance’.

PULL QUOTE: Before former CBN Governor Godwin Emefiele introduced cashless policy, we introduced online payment for our players. All bonuses are paid after 30 minutes after matches and salaries, on the 24th of every month, we never owe.