The Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung said on Thursday that the President, Muhammadu Buhari has approved the needed fund for Super Eagles clash with the Zambia National team on Sunday.
Reports were rife of the unavailability of funds by the Nigerian Football Federation to fly the National team for the crucial World Cup Qualifier but the NFF vehemently denied.
Speaking with journalists at the National Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress (APC), the Minister apparently admitted that the ministry and the football federation were having financial challenges hence the need to approach the President for financial assistance.
Nigeria is in group D alongside Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia.
He said, “I think that yes we are facing economic challenges, but the President have been quite supportive.
“On Sunday, I could not go to church I have to sit 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 take sports. So I think that there is no need for much panic or fear so Nigerians should support the Super Eagles and pray for their success and we wish them a successive outing and even winning the ticket of the group to represent our zone in the world cup, that is our prayer
He explained that “because of the love of sports and football in Nigeria, Nigerians do not usually want anything to be left to chance. So the reaction of Nigerians is just to put us sports administrators on our toes that we must get everything right.
“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 be seems as not too clear whether the team would travel.
While speaking on the report that the Sport Ministry has not found it worthy to reward Nigeria’s Paraolympians at the just concluded Rio Olympic Games, Dalung noted that the athletes were ‘handsomely’ rewarded as against what was being reported.
“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 presented 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.
“So, I instructed that he must also get $5000 as a gold medalist. So, it is not correct to say that they have not been compensated. After the reward from the ministry, there is a need to get presidential blessing. So, if Nigerians are talking about the presidential blessing, I have written the president.
“As soon as we get his approval, a day to honour those who have made Nigeria proud, will be honoured. Let’s not lose touch of the fact that we as a country are undergoing certain challenges. So, we must do things based on reality on the ground.