Nigerian Govt Abandoned Us


Yemisi Adeoye is the widow of ex-Nigerian Paralympic gold medalist, Ajibola Adeoye, who died in March this year after a long battle with an ailment. He told ADEBOBOLA ALAWODE in this interview at their one-room apartment in Iyana Ipaja area of Lagos State, Nigeria, that the Federal Government and Sports Ministry neglected her late husband at a point of need until a strange ailment claimed his life


What was the genesis of the ailment that claimed the life of your husband?

I can’t really say because we tried our best going through many x-rays and scans to ascertain what was wrong with him but the doctors couldn’t diagnose a particular sickness.


Are you saying he died immediately he fell ill?

I won’t lie to you, when he fell ill; we took him from one hospital to another, trying to find out what went wrong with him. From Lagos, we went to Abeokuta in Ogun State to seek a cure, but we couldn’t find any until he died.


Where exactly did he die?

After visiting different hospitals in search of where to get the best treatment for him, we were referred to the Public Works Directorate, PWD also known as Air Force Base in Ikeja, Lagos State. When we got there, we met some doctors but we were later sent back to Abeokuta and that was where he passed on.


Would you say he didn’t get the best of medical attention?

We tried our best to give him the best medical attention, but I only feel that God called him back to His bosom for a reason..


While he was on his sick bed, did you make any attempt to inform the authorities about what your husband was passing through?

Firstly, we were concentrating on how to get him back on his feet; that doesn’t mean that we didn’t make attempts to inform the Federal Government and the National Sports Commission, NSC, but nothing was official. I met one of his friends, who is a javelin athlete, and he tried to get the authorities involved but nothing came out of it.


People thought that Ajibola deserved to be buried as a national hero, what happened?

That was what we all expected from the country but going by the cold shoulder that we got from concerned authorities, especially the Sports ministry, we had no option than to bury him the way we did. If it were to be in an organised society, he wouldn’t have been buried as an unsung hero. He was not remembered immediately he left active sport. Your paper is the first to come and look for us, this is the first interview I have granted, that tells you the whole story.


Since his death, how have you been coping with life, he left some kids behind?

It is by the grace of God and his families that the four children Ajibola left and I have been surviving. They have been supportive and always make sure that we don’t feel his absence. His families soothing words and presence of some of my family members have also helped me a lot, otherwise I don’t know what we would have been through by now.


Apart from the family support, what other things do you do?

Even when my husband was alive, I wasn’t a full housewife. I’m a business woman, I’m into buying and selling. That is what I do to support him then, and I’m still doing the business.


How have you been coping with the business since your husband passed on?

According to our tradition, I have to remain at home for a while to get over his death. Edo State culture does not permit widows to go out immediately after losing their husbands. I’m still observing the mourning period, as you can see for yourself. I’m still clad in black, which shows that I’m still mourning the death of my husband. Please, I hope that your paper will not publish my photograph yet because our tradition forbids I should not be seen in the public until after my mourning period.


You were married for 15 years and the marriage was blessed with four children, what will you miss about Ajibola?

Asking me what I would miss about my husband? I would miss so many things about him because he was like my powerhouse; he was always there for me. He always had the interest of his family at heart. There are so many things that I would miss, which I can’t mention. But, I’m consoled because he was a great athlete, who won many gold medals for Nigeria during his life time.


How did both of you meet?

It wasn’t like love at first sight. We actually met at the Games Village in Surulere, Lagos State, where one of my sisters had a shop. He was always coming there to eat so he asked me out. I thought about it and gave him a chance to see if he could be mine; thank goodness that the union produced four children before he died.


What do you want from the Federal Government and the Sports ministry?

I want the government to immortalize my husband because he did the nation proud. It would be unfair to leave the upkeep of my children to me alone. The government should have plans for widows of Nigeria’s past heros like me.


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