The Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung, has explained how the government rewarded the paralympians who did Nigeria proud at the Rio games.
The minister said gold medalists got $5000, silver $4000 and bronze winners were paid $3000.
The minister also said that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the needed funds for the Super Eagles clash with the Zambian national team on Sunday.
The Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, Amaju Pinnick, had been quoted as saying that paucity of funds may deny the country the chance to travel for the match.
But speaking with journalists at the National Secretariat of the All Progressives Congress, APC, on Thursday, Mr. Dalung said it was true that the sports ministry and the NFF were facing financial challenges.
He however, said because of the challenge, they had to approach the president for financial succour.
“We are facing economic challenges, but the president has been quite supportive,” the minister said. “On Sunday, I could not go to church, I had to sit to draft a memo which was taken to the president on a Sunday; he approved it for funds to be provided for the team to travel. That is how serious this government take sports.”
Mr. Dalung assured Nigerians that the nation was prepared for the match in Zambia and that he would also be travelling with the team to provide “moral and physical support”.
“One thing Nigerians would need to know is that some of the players are coming from outside and there are of course international obligations as to some of the allowances, bonuses, money you need to pay their ticket, and insurance before they come, even those issues have been sorted out completely,” he said
Nigeria is playing in Group D alongside Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia.
Paralympians handsomely rewarded
Mr. Dalung also dispelled rumours that the Nigerian government did not reward the Paralympians who made Nigeria proud at Rio, Brazil.
He said the Federal government “handsomely” rewarded the athletes.
“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 paralympians was automatic.
“I supervised the payment of bonuses of $5000 for gold medalists, $3000 for silver medalists and $2000 for bronze medalists. So, those raising the issue that they had not been compensated may not be aware,” he said.
The Minister added that, “Even, Yakubu, who had a world record, but due to administrative lapses, was unable to be present to defend his medal, I insisted that it will be unjust to exclude him from those who have got medals. His record was not even beaten by the person who took the medal. The difference was that the country did not present him.
“So, I instructed that he must also get $5000 as a gold medalist. So, 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 the president.
“As soon as we get his approval, a day to honour those who have made Nigeria proud, will be honoured. Let’s not lose touch of the fact that we as a country are undergoing certain challenges. So, we must do things based on reality on the ground,” he said.