Jonathan under fire over N1m Falconet gift

Nigeria's Para-lympians we victorious in the last Paralympics

Athletes complain that President Goodluck Jonathan is biased towards football.

President Goodluck Johnathan’s decision to reward some sportsmen and women for their performance in the country’s colours, over the weekend, is already generating mixed reaction around the country.

While there seems to be a consensus on the fact that the Paralympians are deserving of any honour bestowed on them; the gift of N1m per player and N2.5m for the coaches of the National women’s U-20 team, the Falconets, is causing some ripples.

The Falconets finished fourth at the just concluded World Cup in Japan, a far cry from the second place finish recorded at the Germany 2010 edition, but were still considered good enough for a presidential reception.

The Falconets, though starting out smoking in Japan, fizzled out when it mattered most; falling to USA in the semi-final and also losing to host Japan in the third place match.

On arrival in Nigeria last monday, the players never expected a presidential handshake let alone N1m cheque to go with it. But as fate would have it, each of the young women is a million naira richer.

Their cash rewards are now a source of controversy as athletes in other sports are alleging double standards.

For Enefiok Udo-Obong, a gold medalist for Nigeria at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, it is only fair to also reward athletes that finished fourth in the finals of the Olympics.

“If fourth at the U-20 World Cup deserves N1m each for players and N2.5m for coaches, what of Nigeria’s female 4x400m not even a welcome dinner, what is good for the goose is good for the gander” Enefiok argued.

For another Lagos based athletics coach, Sunday Adedeji, the President’s action goes a long way to confirm that football takes a special, nonetheless, deserving place in the country.

“The President out of his busy schedule went to watch Super Eagles and also to Liberia to watch their match. Now, which (other) sport has such presidential attention,” he asked.

“Now they are giving footballers after all the huge bonuses they got extra N1m each, well I will not say they should not give them but it is only normal that this should spread to other sports,” Adedeji told PREMIUM TIMES.

He said until other sportsmen and women down tools and let football alone be the sports Nigeria will be competing, the country’s officials will not know their worth.

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Tunde Eludini is a graduate of the Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife, Nigeria where he studied International Relations. He is a Senior Correspondent coordinating the sports section for PREMIUM TIMES. Twitter@tundeyeludini

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