Thirty-one years after the Golden Eaglets won the maiden Under-17 World Championship, President Muhammadu Buhari has rewarded the players with N2 million each, with their coaches getting N1.5million each.
LEADERSHIP FRIDAY recalls that Buhari was the military head of state when the team won the cadet world tournament in 1985.
President Buhari also donated cash prizes to other athletes who distinguished themselves last year.
Speaking at a reception for Nigerian athletes and officials who made the nation proud at international competitions at the Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, President Buhari said Nigerian athletes, despite prevailing challenges, have always proven to the rest of the world that the Nigerian spirit is indomitable.
Speaking about his longstanding pledge to the victorious ‘85 Golden Eaglets, he said the reason for the 30-year delay is well known; he, however, lamented that a member of the team, Kingsley Aikhionbare, passed away in London in 1996.
He directed the late Aikhionbare’s next of kin to collect the money on behalf of his family.
He said: “It is a well-known fact that so much water has passed under the bridge between 1985 and now. The state governments that were to implement most of the pledges to the players and officials have changed hands so many times under different dispensations and political parties.
“In line with our belief that the ‘labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain’, we will be saying thank you to our 1985 Golden Eaglets’ players and officials by using the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports’ template for rewarding outstanding athletes.
“As you are all aware, the financial resources of our nation have been dwindling since last year. Hence what we are offering you today is not payment or compensation for winning laurels for your country; rather, it is a token of appreciation for your efforts and patriotism while competing for your fatherland. “
There was a mild drama when President Buhari mistakenly announced rewards of N200m each for the players.
However, minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, mounted the podium to correct the error.
To the victorious Chile 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup winners, Buhari announced rewards of N1.2m each for the players; N900,000 for the head coach; N300,000 for team secretary and medical team and N200,00 each for other officials.
For the team that won gold medal in the 2015 Africa U-23 Cup of Nations in Senegal, the players and head coach got N500,000 each, while assistant coaches and other team officials got N300,000 each.
Adekoroye Odunayo who won bronze medal in the 2015 World Wrestling Championship in Las Vegas got N1.2m for her effort while her coaches, Aku Purity and Daniel Igali, got N600,000 each.
For D’Tigers that won gold medal in the 2015 Male Afro-Basketball Tournament in Tunisia, the players and the coaches got N600,000 each while other team officials got N250,000 each.
The president also announced rewards for the team that won silver medal in the 2015 FIBA Africa U-16 Female Championship in Madagascar, saying the players and coaches will get N400,000 each while team officials will get N150,000 each.
For the 2015 IPC Asian Open International Powerlifting Championship in Almaty-Kazakhstan, the gold medallists were promised N600,000 each; silver medallists and coaches got N450,000 each while team officials got N250,000 each.
Wellington Jighere who won gold medal in the 2015 World English Language Scrabble Championship in Peth-Australia got N1.5m; his coach, Anthony Ikolo, got N1.2m while the team secretary, Makano Adamu, got N450,000.
Olanrewaju Durodola who won the World Boxing Council (WBC) Cruiser weight title was also rewarded with N1.5m.
Although the names and pictures of Onye Lauretta who won gold medal in F40 shotput at the IPC Athletics Grand Prix in Qatar and those or her coach, Analto Patrick, and the team secretary, Olabisi Aziz, were included in the event’s brochure, no reward was announced for them.
President Buhari expressed appreciation to the athletes and officials for the consistency, determination, willpower and penchant for success being witnessed in the sports sector in recent times.
He assured the athletes that the federal government would not relent in its efforts to ensure that the country’s sportsmen and women continue to excel in international competitions.
He urged the managers of the sports sector to keep up the momentum.
“I am particularly concerned about our participation at the forthcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Games. We must not allow a repetition of the unsavoury experience at the London 2012 Olympics where Nigerian athletes failed to make it to the podium,” he charged them, adding that “this administration’s policy of change must reflect in the way we do things either as individuals or institutions.
“We must strive to be prudent in the way we manage our time, financial and material resources to ensure victory at the next Olympics. We must aim for optimal performance at all international competitions.”
President expressed joy at having redeemed his longstanding pledge made in 1985.
“Your Excellencies, great Nigerian athletes, distinguished ladies and gentlemen, I wish to remark that today’s event is very special to me because: the Almighty Allah has, in His infinite mercies and love, kept me alive to this day and granted me the privilege of being able to fulfil my promise in 1985 – to reward the winners of the maiden edition of the FIFA Under-17 World Championship.”
Culled from: http://leadership.ng/news/493956/31-years-pmb-redeems-pledge-showers-85-eaglets-n2m