Olalekan Adetayo, Abuja
The Federal Government has budgeted N3bn to enable the Super Eagles to have a successful outing at the 2018 World Cup 2018 which starts on June 14 in Russia.
The Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr. Solomon Dalung, disclosed this to State House correspondents after a closed-door meeting he had with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja on Tuesday.
Dalung said while sponsors and partners would raise part of the money, the substantial part of the “conservative budget” would be provided by the Federal Government.
“We have a conservative budget of about N3bn but out of that N3bn, FIFA is going to raise about N900m; our sponsors and partners are also going to bring about N600m. Government will conservatively raise about N2bn or N2.5bn to complement,” the minister said.
He said plans were underway to ensure that the players get their allowances upfront latest by March 2018.
“One of the challenges we have been facing in sports administration is the welfare of the players and the officiating team and we intend to set a new approach to the question of welfare.
“By March, we intend to start paying the players their allowances, camping allowances upfront. That will go a long way to boost the morale of the players and their confidence too.
“The new method of governance in football has taken the pattern of change. We will also ensure that there is unity within the football family.
“Unity, too, is a key factor going by some of the reports we had in the past where poor performances were attributable to lack of unity between the family, the technical team, the officials and the players. This time, unity has to be promoted.
“Finally, we will also ensure that government makes funds available on time. That is why the budget for the competition has since been sent to the President for a special intervention so that government can make provision for some of the funds we need for training now before other things can come up,” the minister explained.
He said the government was comfortable with the group the team belong to despite the presence of Argentina.
He said, “We are comfortable with the team because having tested Argentina which is a highly ranked team in the group, we can say confidently that with good work, good training, good welfare for the players and team spirit, we will top that group going by the disposition of our national team.
“After the groupings, Nigeria falls within Group D and we appear to be the underdog going by the ranking of the teams.
“But I think ranking is more or less a paper job, what is very important is how you will perform and I believe that we are comfortable with the teams.
“Some people have been arguing that Argentina did not present their best, but we also have some players we didn’t invite and we also intend to invite them. It is an issue that is going to be determined practically by the level of preparation of the Nigerian team. Don’t forget that the Nigerian team had enjoyed a formidable home support and they are inspired to deliver.
“So we will engage in more friendlies to try and determine our strength and areas of improvement before the final competition.”
Dalung said the government would mobilise a strong delegation that will support the team because of its belief that sports is an about number.