Emeka Obasi

Boston holds an important place in United States’ History for it was from there that seeds for the American Revolution germinated. Peter Obi stormed the town recently and enjoyed tea break with Enugu Rangers Veterans.

The Boston Tea Party of December 16, 1773 announced a new world power. The US began the process of independence from Britain. Obi and his Obedients are trying to build a New Nigeria. Landing in Boston sounded like a spiritual exercise.

Vincent Okechukwu Chika won the African Winners Cup with the Flying Antelopes in 1977. Some members of that squad live in the United States and they have a powerful Union of Ex – Rangers stars.

Ignatius Ilechukwu, Nnamdi Anyafo, Alex Nwosu, Sam Onyeaka, Arthur Ebunam, Emma Merenini and Charles Adimora, all reside in the US.

Rangers Veterans are legion there. Dominic Ezeani, Godwin Ogbueze, Okey Ozo, Donald Igwebuike, Chibuzo Ehilegbu,Charles Okoye, Ikechukwu Ofoje, Francis and Benjamin Okaro, Azuka Habor, Totty Okoro Totty, the list is long.

Chika, popularly known as Macbeth, appeared with a band of Rangers die hards wearing specially designed white T-shirts for the occasion.

Chimamanda Adichie was there and mingled with the Flying Antelopes as they received the Labour Party presidential candidate.

Macbeth said: “I couldn’t think of a better way to support Peter Obi than to put on his inherited football team’s hat that says Enugu Rangers.”

Obi and the Coal City team have come a long way. As governor of Anambra State between 2006 and 2014, he initiated the tradition of appointing a Rangers Veteran as Special Adviser on Sports.

It began with Nnamdi ‘Camel’ Nwokocha. When Nwokocha passed on, Arthur Ebunam filled that position. As Obi was leaving he asked his successor, Willy Obiano, to continue with that policy.

Obiano did not fail. He chose Emmanuel Okala. It is expected that Chukwuma Soludo will continue from where his predecessors stopped.

Obi has not stopped supporting the Flying Antelopes. He pays monthly allowance to 73 old Rangers players, irrespective of tribe, tongue and State of origin.

Even in death, the Labour Party flag bearer does not forsake the Rangers family. When Okey Isima passed away in 2013, Obi followed his younger brother, Ndubuisi Isima, a former Flying Eagle, bumper to bumper.

While some politicians told Ndu that they would only support the funeral if Obi was kept away, the younger Isima briefed the then governor regularly.

At the end, Okey Isima was given state burial. Obi was there in Abba, Nsugbe, to pay his last respects. For over four hours, he was all over the place, with drinks and all kinds of support. Some visitors mistook him for the Master of Ceremony.

Obi sent his Sports Commissioner, Chinwe Anowai to Abatete when Emeka Onyedika died in 2010. Dominic Ezeani was honoured to see the former governor at his mother’s burial in Agulu, in 2021. Enugwu Ukwu received Obi following the passage of Nwabueze Nwankwo in 2021.

Mac B Chika sees in Obi the best man for the job of President in 2023.

“Obi’s time in Boston was overwhelmingly fruitful. He came bonding with old and new faces and emphasising why he wants to be president of Nigeria.

“Obi came tendering his resume for evaluation by Nigerians in Boston. He is rated above expectations as the best qualified to be president. No signs of fatigue. He stood straight, laying his plans, one after the other,” Chika told me.

The former player believes in the Nigeria Project and sees Obi as one candidate that can cement national cohesion.

Chika’s son Okechukwu, Jnr. got married to Funlola Are, daughter of Lagosian, Iyiola Are in Houston last March.

Going down memory lane he regaled me with stories from the Dennis Memorial Gramm Iar School, Onitsha years.

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“We were simply the best, unbeatable. We were East Central State champions in 1975 and again in 1976. That was my ticket to Rangers, ” Macbeth said.

The DMGS team was captained by Nnamdi Anyafo, known at the time as Waskey. By the time he neutralised Segun Odegbami on the way to Rangers continental triumph in 1977, ace commentator, Ernest Okonkwo dubbbed the left back, ‘Policeman’.

There was Nwachukwu Onyekwelu, ‘ Igaliga’ whose intercontinental ballistic missile destroyed Thomas Nkono and Canon Sportif in Yaounde in that 1977 final.
Onyekwelu was in the United States and after picking a degreee, returned to Nigeria only to die in a car crash some kilometres to Onitsha in February 1987.

Mike Ochiagha was known as ‘ Ochiwar’. Clement Umeadi Nwuba became ‘Arugo Style’. Victor Moneke was also part of that all conquering team.

The boys love education. Anyafo is the equivalent of a Chartered Accountant ( CPA) in Charlotte, North Carolina. Nwuba is also an author. He came out with ‘ Akonuche’.

Their junior, Ejike Ekwueme who captained the DMGS cadet team, played good soccer for Calabar Rovers, Jetimo Uyo and Enugu Rangers.

Ekwueme is perhaps one the most educated players in the world. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Calabar. After that he switched to Law and has a Bachelors, two Masters degrees and a PhD from the University of London. His uncle, Dr. Alex Ekwueme was an Architect before becoming a lawyer.

Macbeth did not spend time in Scotland but he found Idi Amin in Uganda. The former East African Heavyweight boxing champion was in love with the Flying Antelopes.

” I had great fun when Rangers met Kampala City Councillors ( KCC) in 1978. We were highly hosted beyond all expectations by President Idi Amin. He pleaded that if we were not going to win the cup, we should not beat his team.”

Rangers defeated the Ugandans 3-1 in Lagos. Nnamdi Nwokocha got a brace. That was in the quarter finals of the CAF Champions League then known as the Cup for Champion Clubs. It held in September.

Earlier in the year, the Cranes of Uganda beat Green Eagles 2-1 in the semi finals of the African Nations Cup, Ghana ’78.

Against KCC in Kampala, Rangers were fantastic. They won 1-0 to qualify for the semi finals, to face Canon Sportif, the team they defeated in 1977 to lift the African Winners Cup.

The Flying Antelopes were good enough to beat Canon in 1978. The Enugu side dashed their opponents victory to protest the hijack of the money, 25,000 naira, they got from Gen. Olusegun Obasanjo for winning the African Winners Cup in 1977.

In Lagos it was goalless. The same result was achieved in wet Yaounde. In the ensuing penalty kicks, Rangers players faced the sky when it was obvious Canon could not win. Cameroon was gifted victory.

Rangers players did not want to win the cup only for some state officials to swallow money meant for the team. They decided to lose. That was also how they dashed Insurance the 1978 Challenge Cup.

Twenty four hours to that epic grand finale, key members of the squad deliberately drank themselves to stupor. By 4am on match day, hangover was still at work. Insurance hit them 3-0.

Macbeth was close to left winger, Adokiye Amiesimaka, who was the hitman of the CMS Grammar School team that won the Lagos State Principals Cup in 1975 and again in 1976, exactly what DMGS did in the East. Like CMS, DMGS belongs to the Anglican mission.

According to MacB, “I shared room with Adokiye when he got recruited by Rangers. We had great runs as team mates. Our outing against Housing Corporation, Akure was remarkable. We won with class.

“Against Stationery Stores, he laid a pass too fast for me to convert. I will not forget that game simply for not scoring in a perfect setting. Before Adokiye joined Rangers, we met at the Eagles camp and became good friends.”