Ahead of the 2018 World Cup in Russia in June, President Muhammadu Buhari has challenged the Super Eagles to leave a mark at the mundial and not just be mere spectators.
Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung disclosed this to State House correspondents after meeting with President Buhari at the presidential Villa.
He stressed the need to pay the players their match training allowances and bonuses before March to have a good outing at the World Cup.
“Well, the president encouraged me to in 2018 sustained the tempo of the successes recorded so far in2017 especially with the World Cup in Russia. He challenged me to ensure that Nigeria does not go to Russia a mere spectator.
“Of course I also informed him that part of the measures we have taken to address some of the challenges is to ensure that by March all the players are paid their match training and camp allowances upfront but for the bonuses is in terms of progression according to performance at the World Cup, “ he said
When asked how prepared Nigeria is for the World Cup , he said “For the World Cup, apart from the friendlies we have now I think we have lined up so many friendlies to play with countries participating in the World Cup, top ranking countries that did not make the World Cup, so as to strengthen our preparation.
Disclosing that the budget for the World Cup has been approved but has not been released, Dalung said the difference they have in the budgetary allocations this time is that the budget is funded by both the government, private sector and the federation.
According to him, he insisted that the era where government alone will fund such competition a lot is no more acceptable. Dalung said there are grants released by organizers to complement efforts of government, this must be declared and included in the budget.
He added that the monies realized from sponsorships and marketing will also have to be declared to constituted the budget that will be declared for the World Cup.
“So we have a round figure that has been budgeted which is N3 billion but the nigeria football federation will raise about N1.5 billion from what we are getting from FIFA and corporate nigeria, the private sector. Government is expected to turn in N2 or N1.5 billion for the competition, he said.
On when will the money be released since the competition is starting in June, he said”, to get government money involved process but the beauty of it is that we made the request early and we have gotten the approval. The next thing is the funding and it had to do with the 2018 budget which we are waiting for.
Asked why sports infrastructures are not maintained in the country, he cited lack of patriotism and absence of maintenance culture as reasons .
He explained that “ when we are talking patriotism we have to begin from the foundation, that is the award of the contract. For instance, the National Stadium in Abuja, the contractors retained maintenance. And the cost of maintenance in two, three years is close to the entire contract sum. The contract is faulty because it maintains maintenance within the contractual agreement to where it did not foresee circumstances or economic realities will not be there to support it.
“Secondly, lack of patriotism in terms of our maintenance culture. For instance the national stadium lagos, does it mean that 2003 the stadium was shut down and no maintenance at all? Because that is the only reason to explain its present deplorable state. Thirdly, every year, there is a budget for the maintenance of that particular infrastructure, the question is what has become of this budgetary allocations,” he stated.
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