By Ori Martins
His profile is replete with an astonishing league of firsts. His story is stuffed and studded with an Olympian height reserved for great giants who are trail blazers. Chief (Sir) Fan Ndubuoke was among the first set of journalists at the stable of the then flourishing Champion newspapers.
In a very commendable breathtaking effort, Ndubuoke and his two other colleagues, Pastor Emeka Inyama and Pastor Onyebuchi Abia, established the first all sports newspaper in Nigeria called Sports Links. It was an instant hit.
The Mr Fan’s CEO made headlines when he was elected the first Igbo national president of Nigeria Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN) and the legendary Chief MKO Abiola, Pilar of Sports in Africa, celebrated that historic moment by playing a pun on Ndubuoke’s name thus: “Will this Fan rotate”?
Of course, and most remarkably, that Fan excellently rotated as Ndubuoke was a board member of the NFF that qualified Nigeria for the World Cup for the first time in USA ’94. Before that, Nigeria was rated for the first and only time, as the fifth best football playing nation in the world.
Ndubuoke was also in the board when the Super Eagles lifted the African Nations Cup for the first time outside Nigeria, in Tunisia ’94.
In 2019 when former governor, Rt Hon Emeka Ihedioha, intended to revive sports in Imo State, he graciously imported Ndubuoke and saddled him with that herculean responsibility. Sensationally and in a most dramatic display of administrative fate, Ndubuoke emerged the first chairman of the Imo State Sports Commission.
As a distinguished professional, a man imbued with administrative ingenuity, knack for excellency and class, Ndubuoke worked assiduously and within months the ugly face of Imo State sports was restored to glory.
The result was gratifying as Heartland were rescued from relegation, Grasshoppers came back bouncing stronger, Dan Anyiam was reconstructed and refurbished with new turf, new side tracks, new Olympic sized gymnasium, world class indoor sports hall and new equipment contained in one and half 40 feet containers imported from USA. The sports, Sunday Dare visited the state and hollered that “Imo State is the home of sports in Nigeria”. Sadly, all these were abandoned the moment Ihedioha was controversially sacked by the supreme court of Nigeria.
It must be highlighted here that it was Ndubuoke who, as the general manager of Heartland, put together, broke an 18 year agonizing record of trophy – less seasons in the club, and for the first time in the chequered history of the Owerri side, lifted the Federation Cup back to back in 2011 and 2012.
Back home in his community, Ndubuoke was the first mayor of his Mbutu community and the first Mbaise to earn a chieftaincy title from all the Mbaise traditional rulers without any misgiving consequent upon which his Ezinwa Mbaise traditional title.
Perhaps, it must be recorded here that Ndubuoke is a day older than the Iconic Zik of Africa who was born on November 16!!! Just last Saturday, Ndubuoke’s first son, Chimeremeze walked the aisle with his sweetheart. What a blessing.
Happy birthday Sir Fan Ndubuoke and more blessings ahead.