Pele was buried in his final resting place Tuesday as millions of fans in Brazil and around the world mourned the sports legend.
Newly inaugurated President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva paid his respects at Vila Belmiro, the stadium where Pelé played for most of his career.
Pele was being laid to rest in the city where he grew up, became famous, and helped make into a global capital of his sport. Mass was held at the Vila Belmiro stadium before the black casket was driven through the streets of the city of Santos in a firetruck.
It was taken into the cemetery as bands played the Santos team’s official song, and a Catholic hymn. Before the golden-wrapped casket arrived, attendees sang samba songs that Pelé had liked.
“Where’s Ronaldo Nazario? Where’s Kaka, where’s Neymar?” asked Claudionor Alves, 67, who works at a bakery next to the stadium. “Do they think they will be remembered like Pele will? These guys didn’t want to stop their vacations, that’s the problem.”
Another notable absentee was Jair Bolsonaro, whose term as president ended Dec. 31. A day before, he departed capital Brasilia on a flight to Florida, shirking the ceremonial duty of passing the presidential sash to Lula. Bolsonaro is staying in a condominium complex outside Orlando and has been filmed speaking to neighbours.
Among those at the stadium was Pelé’s best friend Manoel Maria, also a former Santos player.
“If I had all the wealth in the world I would never be able to repay what this man did for me and my family,” Maria said. “He was as great a man as he was as a player; the best of all time. His legacy will outlive us all. And that can be seen in this long line with people of all ages here.”
FIFA President Gianni Infantino told journalists that every country should name a stadium after Pele. “I am here with a lot of emotion, sadness, but also with a smile because he gave us so many smiles,” Infantino said. “As FIFA, we will pay a tribute to the ‘King’ and we ask the whole world to observe a minute of silence.”
Another fan and friend in line was Brazilian Supreme Court Justice Gilmar Mendes. “It is a very sad moment, but we are now seeing the real meaning of this legendary player to our country,” Mendes told journalists. “My office has shirts signed by Pele, a picture of him as a goalkeeper, also signed by him. DVDs, photos, a big collection of him.”
Geovana Sarmento, 17, waited in the three-hour line to view his body as it lay in repose. She came with her father, who was wearing a Brazil shirt with Pelé’s name.
“I am not a Santos fan, neither is my father. But this guy invented Brazil’s national team. He made Santos stronger, he made it big, how could you not respect him? He is one of the greatest people ever, we needed to honor him,” she said.
Caio Zalke, 35, an engineer, wore a Brazil shirt as he waited in line. “Pele is the most important Brazilian of all time. He made the sport important for Brazil and he made Brazil important for the world,” he said.
In the 1960s and 70s, Pele was perhaps the world’s most famous athlete. He met presidents and queens, and in Nigeria a civil war was put on hold to watch him play. Many Brazilians credit him with putting the country on the world stage for the first time.
Rows of shirts with Pele’s number 10 were placed behind one of the goals, waving in the city’s summer winds. A section of the stands was filling up with bouquets of flowers placed by mourners and sent by clubs and star players – Neymar and Ronaldo among them – from around the world as loudspeakers played a song named “Eu sou Pelé” (“I am Pele”) that was recorded by the Brazilian himself.
The crowd was mostly local, although some came from far away. Many mourners were too young ever to have seen Pelé play. The mood was light, as people filtered out of the stadium to local bars, wearing Santos FC and Brazil shirts.
Claudio Carrança, 32, a salesman, said, “I never saw him play, but loving Pele is a tradition that goes from father to son in Santos. I learned his history, saw his goals, and I see how Santos FC is important because he is important. I know some Santos fans have children supporting other teams. But that’s just because they never saw Pele in action. If they had, they would feel this gratitude I feel now.”
Shaibu Eats Humble Pie, Apologises to Obaseki, Says ‘I Missed My Gov’
Call it the eating of a humble pie, and you may not be wring as the embattled Deputy Governor of Edo State, Philip Shaibu, apologised to Governor Godwin Obaseki amid a face-off between them.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday in Benin City, Mr Shaibu appealed to Governor Obaseki to forgive his “mistakes” for them to continue to work together, Channels TV reported.
“I use this medium to appeal to Mr Governor, if there is anything that I don’t know that I have done, please forgive me so that we can develop our state together,” he said.
“We have just one year to go. We have been the envy of the entire country. So, Mr Governor, if there is anything you feel that I have done, please I am sorry. I need us to work together to finish well and strong,” the deputy governor added.
When asked if he had resumed at his new office, Mr Shaibu said, “We have resumed but there is still a lot of work to be done there.
“There is no problem about it. The governor has asked us to go there. Like I have always tried to prove, I am a loyal servant and nothing has changed.
“I took a personal vow to support my governor and you can see my Catholic people are here. When I took a vow with God, nothing can change it and I wish that the relationship that we had will come back in the next few days and weeks.”
Mr Shaibu also said he has been missing the governor since their rift began, and expressed hope that God will “touch the governor’s heart” to forgive him.
“I mean well. If there is any mistake I have made as a human, it is not out of wickedness because I know I’m not wicked. I have a very clean heart.”
Wike Revokes Undeveloped Lands in Abuja; Obi, Bua, Tobi, Imoke Others Affected
The Federal Capital Territory FCT Minister, Nyesom Wike, has announced the revocation of 167 plots of land in some highbrow districts of the nation’s capital, Abuja.
Areas affected are Maitama, Gudu, Wuye which had the highest revocation, 41; Katampe, Katampe Extension, Wuse 2, Jabi, Utako, Idu Industrial zone, and Asokoro which had the second highest revocation, 39.
In a notice issued Thursday night in Abuja, the administration said the plots were revoked due to the refusal or failure of their allottees to develop them.
“The Federal Capital Territory Administration FCTA hereby informs the general public that the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory has, in the exercise of the powers conferred on him under Section 28(5)(a) & (b) of the Land Use Act 1978, revoked the underlisted plots with names and titles as reflected in our records for continued contravention of the terms of development of the Right of Occupancy to wit non-development”, the administration said in the notice signed by the Permanent Secretary, Mr Olusade Adesola.
Some of the plots revoked in Maitama district A05 had names like Liyel Imoke, Musa Aboki Egu, Hassan Hadejia and Ishaya Baba.
In Jabi, some of the plots revoked had allottees such as Sam Nda-Isaiah, and Donubari Josephine Kogbara, while Katampe district had Peter Gregory Obi, BUA international among others.
In other areas, this revoked had names as Julius Berger Nigeria, Honeywell Construction, Uffot Joseph Ekaette, Shittu Mohammed, Udoma Udo Udoma, Kanu Agabi, Niki Niki Tobi, Ishaku Bello, and others.
Wike had on assumption of office vowed to restore the master plan of the territory and revoke plots that had not been developed or those whose ground rents have not been paid for years.
He had consequently given a two-week grace to allottees to pay their ground rents or risk revocation of their allocations.
Tinubu Moves to Stop Release of Academic Records, Appeals US Court Judgement
President Bola Tinubu has appealed against the ruling of Judge Jeffrey T. Gilbert, sitting at the United States’ District Court of Northern Illinois which ordered the Chicago State University (CSU) to release all relevant records pertaining to him.
SaharaReporters had reported how the federal court in Chicago, while ruling on the civil case filed by Atiku Abubakar, on Tuesday granted the applicant’s request to the court, stating that former Nigeria’s vice-president had been able to sufficiently satisfy the purpose for seeking the records.
In the judgement documents seen by SaharaReporters on Wednesday, Judge Jeffrey Gilbert also ordered a deposition of designated CSU officials within two days after the records have been released, noting further that the process can be conducted during the weekend if necessary.
However, as the school prepared to surrender the papers, Tinubu filed an emergency motion in the district, requesting a higher judge to reconsider Mr Gilbert’s September 19 ruling and postpone the execution until at least September 25, according to People’s Gazette.
“Due to the timing for compliance by Chicago State University – later today – Intervenor is filing this motion separately from its challenge to the Magistrate’s ruling on the application,” Mr Tinubu’s lawyers, led by Christopher Carmichael, said. “Intervenor intends to file, by the end of the day, a substantive brief addressing the errors in the Magistrate’s decision.”