Buhari rewards Eaglets, others with cash gifts

Buhari rewards Eaglets, others with cash gifts
January 21 17:02 2016

…Fulfills 31-year-old promise to Ugbade-led team

[P]resident Muhammadu Buhari has fulfilled the promise he made to the Golden Eaglets team that won a historic 5th U-17 World Youth Championship for the nation last year.

The President who hosted the team and other victorious sporting teams to a reception at the State House Conference Centre on Thursday announced various cash gifts to members of the team and other athletes that did the country proud at various international competitions last year.

The President also rewarded members of the Golden Eaglets squad that won the inaugural FIFA U-17 World Youth Championship in China in 1985 with cash gifts.

Each member of the 1985 team got N2 million, while their coaches were given N1.5 million each.

Members of the victorious 2015 side were given N1.2 million each and the coaches received N900,000 each. The Assistant coaches were also rewarded with N600, 000 each.

Each member of the Dream Team that won the U-23 African Nations Cup in Senegal last year got N600,000, while their coaches went home with N500,000 each.

The 2015 Afro-Basketball Male Tournament Gold medalists got N600,000 each, coaches – N600,000, and team officials – N250, 000 each.

Members of the 2015 FIBA African Women Championship, where Nigeria won silver medal, got N400,000 each, coaches went home with N400,000 and while team officials got N150,000 each.

Speaking at the occasion, the President thanked the players, athletes and their handlers for making the country proud at different categories.

He pleaded with them to accept the “token” he gave them in view of the country’s economic situation.

The President also used the opportunity to urge the sports ministry to intensify preparations for the next Olympic Games in Brazil to make sure the country’s athletes put up an impressive performance.

He called for a minute silence in honour of Kingsley Aikhionbare, a member of the 1985 Golden Eaglet squad who died in 1996 and directed that his reward be given to his next of kin.

​”On behalf of all Nigerians, I wish to specially express my appreciation and indeed that of the nation to our athletes and officials for the consistency, determination, willpower and penchant for success being witnessed in the sports sector in recent times. I urge the managers of this sector to keep up the momentum.

​I wish to assure you that the Federal Government of Nigeria would not relent in its efforts to ensure that our sportsmen and women continue to excel in international competitions. 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.

​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.

He continued: ​”Your Excellencies, Great Nigerian Athletes, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, 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. Please join me in observing a one-minute silence in honour of Kingsley Aikhionbare who died in London, in 1996.

​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.”