President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday approved funds for the Super Eagles’ Russia 2018 World Cup qualifier away to Zambia, Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung, has revealed.
Dalung said he had to approach the president for financial assistance in view of the cash challenges facing his ministry and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
Speaking at the National Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC) in Abuja, Dalung noted: “At every time we are preparing for competitions either nationally or internationally, things like this usually comes up and they would always fizzle out.
“We are prepared for participation in Zambia. I will be travelling along with the team to give them the moral and physical support, as they kick-start their campaign. I don’t think that if I would be travelling with the team, the position would still seem unclear.
“One thing Nigerians would need to know more is that in competitions like this, some of the players are coming from outside the country and there are of course international obligations, including allowances, bonuses, money you need to pay their tickets, insurance before they come, even those issues have been sorted out completely.
“I think that yes we are facing economic challenges, but the President has been quite supportive. On Sunday, I could not go to church. I had to draft a memo, which was taken to the president on Sunday, he approved it for funds to be provided for the team to travel that is how serious this government takes sports.”
Dalung faulted the notion that Nigeria’s Paralympians at the just concluded Rio Olympic Games were not rewarded for their feats.
He added: “It is not correct for anybody to assert that they have not been rewarded when he has not done the job of verification very well. The reward for Paralympians was automatic.
“I supervised the payment of bonuses of $5000 for gold medalists, $3000 for silver medalists and $2000 for bronze medalists. So, those raising the issue that they had not been compensated may not by aware.
“Even Yakubu, who had a world record, but due to administrative lapses, was unable to be featured to defend his medal, I insisted that it will be unjust to exclude him from those who have got medals. His record was not even beaten by the person who took the medal. The difference was that he was not presented by the country.”