• 2015  U-17 winners pocket N1.2m each, U-23 N.5m each

Thirty years after the 1985 Golden Eaglets won the U-17 FIFA World cup in China, the players and officials were yesterday rewarded by President Muhammadu Buhari, when he announced N2 million for each of the players while the coaches are to collect N1.5 million each.

Buhari, who was then military Head of State, had promised to reward the team after winning the championship but could not keep his promise as he was ousted in a coup by Gen Ibrahim Badamosi Babangida(red).

Buhari made  the announcement when he hosted  athletes and officials who had excelled at various international sporting competitions at the State House Banquet Hall, Abuja.

He was, however, sad that Kingsley Aikhionbare, a member of the victorious Golden Eaglets was dead.

He asked for a minute silence for Aikhionbare who died in London, in 1996, and directed that his next of kin be handed his monetary reward.

The President said: “I wish to remark that today’s event is very special to me because, Almighty Allah has, in His infinite mercies and love, kept me alive to this day and granted me the privilege of being able to fulfill my promise in 1985, to reward the winners of the maiden edition of the FIFA Under-17 World Championship. “The reason for the 30 years delay is well known. It is, however, sad to note that a member of the 1985 Golden Eaglets is not here with us today.”

Buhari caused a stir when he first mistakenly announced rewards of N200m each for the players. 

Amidst excitement in the hall, Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, quickly mounted the podium to correct the error.  

For the team which won a gold medal in the 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup in Chile, Buhari announced rewards of N1.2 million each for the players; N900,000 for the Head Coach; N300,000 for Team Secretary and medical team as well as N200,00 each for other officials. 

For the team which 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 Championship in Las Vegas, got N1.2 million for her effort while her coaches, Aku Purity and Daniel Igali got N600,000 each. 

For D’Tigers that won a  gold medal in the 2015 Male Afro-Basketball Tournament in Tunisia, the players and the coaches got N600,000 each while 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 medalists were promised N600,000 each; silver medalists and coaches got N450,000 each while team officials got N250,000 each. 

Wellington Jighere who won a gold medal in the 2015 World English Language Scrabble Championship in Peth-Australia got N1.5m; his Coach, Anthony Ikolo got N1.2 million while the Team Secretary, Makano Adamu got N450,000. 

Olanrewaju  Durodola, who won the WBC Cruiser title was also rewarded with N1.5 million.

The President said the rewards were not payments or compensations for winning laurels for the country, but a token of appreciation for the sports ambassadors’ efforts and patriotism.

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.”

The President assured them that the Federal Government would not relent in its efforts to ensure that sportsmen and women continue to excel in international competitions. 

He said he was particularly concerned about the nation’s participation at the forthcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Games, saying he would not allow a repetition of the unsavoury experience at the London 2012 Olympics where Nigerian athletes failed to make it to the podium. 

“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,” the President said.

Sun News