• Honours late ‘85 Golden Eaglet, Kingsley Aikhionbare


President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday splashed various cash gifts on members of the Golden Eaglets team who won the U-17 World Youth Championship in Chile last year as well as other athletes who did the country proud during the year.
The President, who hosted the team and other victorious sporting teams to a reception at the State House Conference Centre, thanked them for making the country proud.
Each member of the 1985 team got N2 million, while their coaches were given N1.5 million each. Their reward came 30 years after their historic feat at the world junior soccer championship.
Similarly, 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 while team officials got N150, 000 each.
Speaking at the occasion, the President 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 impressive performance.
He called for a minute silence in honour of Kingsley Aikhionbare, a member of the 1985 Golden Eaglets 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.
The noted that the event was very special to him because God in His infinite mercies and love, kept him alive and granted him the privilege of being able to fulfil his promise in 1985 to reward the winners of the maiden edition of the FIFA Under-17 World Championship, explaining that, “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.”

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