Buhari Redeems 30-Year Old Pledge to Eaglets

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Buhari at the ceremony to honour Nigerian sportsmen and women in Abuja

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AFTER 30 years, victorious members of the Nigerian Golden Eaglets team that won the China 1985 FIFA U-16, got the reward promised to them by government. President Muhammadu Buhari hosted the remaining members of the team at colourful ceremony held inside the old Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Thursday, January 21.

Each player in the team got a reward of N2m. Some of them who graced the occasion included Fatai Atere, Nduka Ugbade, Jonathan Akpoborie, Baldwin Bazuaye and Victor Igbinoba among others.

Ahead of the ceremony one minute silence was observed for Kingsley Aikhionbare, who died in London in 1996.

The coaches of the team were also given a reward of N1.5m each.

Incidentally, President Buhari was the military head of state when the team, led by Sebastian Brodericks, beat Germany 2-0 to win the first Kodak trophy. But before he could fulfil the promise to reward them for the honour done to the country, he was removed in a palace coup.

The Thursday ceremony afforded the president the opportunity to do it and also rewarded other sports men and women who have done the nation proud.

Hence, also rewarded were the winners of the Chile 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup, who were given N1.2 million each; their head coach – N900,000, assistant coaches – N600,000, while the team secretary and medical team were rewarded with N300,000 each and other officials got N200,000.

The players of the 2015 CAF U-23 Cup of Nations team each got N500,000; head coach got N500,000; while assistant coaches and other team officials got N300,000 each.

Apart from footballers, the president also announced financial rewards for various categories of athletes, who brought honour and laurels to Nigeria in various international competitions, especially in the past seven months of his administration as a democratically elected president of Nigeria.

For instance, Odunayo Adekuoroye, who won bronze medal in the 2015 World Wrestling Championship in Las Vegas, USA, got N1.2m for her effort while Aku Purity and Daniel Igali, her coaches, got N600,000 each.

For D’Tigers that won gold medal at the 2015 African Men’s Basketball Championship in Tunisia, the players and the coaches got N600,000 each while the other team officials got N250,000 each.

The president also announced rewards for the team that won silver medal at the 2015 FIBA Africa U-16 Female Championship in Madagascar, saying the players and coaches would get N400,000 each while team officials would 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 at the 2015 World English Language Scrabble Championship in Perth, Australia got N1.5m; Anthony Ikolo, his coach, got N1.2m while Makano Adamu, team secretary, got N450,000.

Olanrewaju Durodola, who won the WBC Cruiserweight title, was also rewarded with N1.5m.

Speaking at the event, Buhari praised the athletes for always proving to the world that the Nigerian spirit is indomitable and assured that the federal government “would not relent in its efforts to ensure that our sportsmen and women continue to excel in international competitions.”

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.”

— Jan 22, 2016 @ 13:20 GMT

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