The Minister of Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalung said on Thursday that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved funds required for the Super Eagles crunch 2018 World Cup Qualifier clash against Zambia in Ndola on Sunday.
Dalung, who made this disclosure during a visit to the APC national secretariat in Abuja, further admitted that the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) is currently broke.
“This situation brought about the need to approach President Buhari for financial assistance,’’ he said.
The minister however expressed optimism that the Super Eagles are physically and mentally prepared for the clash despite the financial difficulties facing the NFF.
“We are prepared for participation in Zambia. I will be travelling along with the team to give them the moral and physical support as they kick-start their campaign.’’
He stressed that all issues relating to players welfare will be rectified.
“One thing Nigerians need to know is that in a competition like this, some of the players are coming from outside.
“There are, of course, international obligations as to some of the allowances, bonuses, money to pay for their flight tickets and insurance before they come.
“But right now, all those issues have been sorted out completely.
“Even as we are facing economic challenges, all these have been taken care of because President Buhari has been quite supportive.
“On Sunday, I could not go to church because I had to sit to draft a memo which was taken to the President on Sunday. He approved it for funds to be provided for the team to travel
“That is how serious this government takes sports,’’ the minister said
The Super Eagles will face the Chipolopolo of Zambia in Ndola on Sunday. The match is a Match Day 1 fixture in the Group B of the Final Round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers.
Dalung further dismissed reports that the Nigeria Paralympians at the Rio Paralympic Games have not been rewarded by the government, noting that he personally supervised their payments when they arrived the country after the tournament.
It will be recalled that following Nigeria’s admirable performance at the Rio Paralympic Games in September, where they won eight gold, two silver and two bronze medals, reports emerged that the athletes were not rewarded by the Federal Government after the tournament.
“It is not correct for anybody to assert that they have not been rewarded when he has not done the job of verification very well. The reward for the Paralympians was automatic.
“I supervised the payment of bonuses of $5,000 (about N2.5 million) for gold medallists, $3,000 (about N1.5 million) for silver medallists and $2,000 (about N1 million) for bronze medallists.
“So, those raising the issue that they’ve not been compensated may not be aware. It is not correct to say that they have not been compensated.
“After the reward from the ministry, there is a need to get presidential blessing. So, if Nigerians are talking about the presidential blessing, I have written to the President about this.
“As soon as we get his approval, a day to honour those who have made Nigeria proud will come.
“But let’s not lose touch of the fact that we as a country are undergoing certain challenges. So, we must do things based on the reality on the ground,’’ he added.