President Muhamamdu Buhari has tasked the Super Eagles to ensure that Nigeria’s participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup is not as a mere spectator.
This is even as he urged the ministry to ensure that the country sustain the tempo of successes recorded in the sports sector in 2017.
President Buhari’ charge was conveyed by Minister of Sports, Solomon Dalung, at the weekend, to State House correspondents after a meeting he had with President Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
The minister, however, did not disclose the minimum stage the President demanded that Super Eagles must reach at the competition.
According to him, “The President encouraged me to, in 2018, sustain the tempo of the successes recorded so far in 2017 especially with the World Cup in Russia.
“He challenged me to ensure that Nigeria does not go to Russia as a mere spectator,” he said.
Dalung said he told the President that part of the strategies put in place by his ministry is to ensure that by March, all the Super Eagles’ players are paid their match, training and camp allowances upfront while their bonuses would however be in terms of their progression according to performance at the World Cup.
On how prepared the country is for the World Cup, Dalung 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 and top ranking countries that did not make the World Cup, so as to strengthen our preparation.”
He disclosed that although the budget had been approved, it has not been released.
“The difference we have in the budgetary allocations this time is that the budget is funded by the government, private sector and the federation. The era where government alone will fund such competition is no more acceptable.
“There are grants released by organisers to complement efforts of government, this must be declared and included in the budget. And then the monies realised from sponsorships and marketing will also have to be declared to constitute 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 billion or N1.5 billion for the competition,” he said.
The ministry said the Ministry was waiting for the 2018 Budget which is currently before the National Assembly.
He described 2017 as a good year in sports for Nigeria with the nation recording its best outing so far.
He also recalled that elections were held into the federations.
The development, according to him, helped the nation with the federations winning medals in almost all the competitions.
Dalung said, “I briefed him (the President) about our plans for 2018 because it is a sports year right from February to August, there is no dull moment.