Solomon Dalung (Sports minister ), has revealed he has sought an appointment with President Muhammadu Buhari over the Super Eagles’ participation in the Russia 2018 World Cup as well as the sliding fortunes of Nigerian sports.
Dalung, who spoke to reporters in Lagos on Wednesday, blamed the problems of Nigerian sports on a combination of inadequate funding, a lack of support from the private sector and corrupt practices by some of the federation officials.
He also confirmed that the Federal Government had released funds for the country’s participation in the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games in Australia in April.
The minister said he had decided to meet with Buhari to brief him about the deplorable situation of the sports sector and recommend ways to drive the sector through the corporate world like in Europe, Asia and America.
Dalung, who lamented the poor conditions of sports facilities and quality of coaches in the country, also said he would seek the Federal Government’s financial support to avoid rows over payments at the World Cup.
He backed the move by the Nigeria Football Federation to pay the Eagles their World Cup bonus upfront, saying he would ensure that the players are paid before the trip to Russia.
The minister said he would monitor payments during the World Cup and the Commonwealth Games to make sure the athletes get their entitlements.
The minister accused some of the federation officials of diverting grants and scholarships from international bodies for the development of their sports.
“The federations get grants from their international bodies and they don’t tell us about it,” Dalung said.
“What happens to the scholarships they get from their international bodies?
He insisted the Federal Government achieved a lot in sports last year despite the economic recession in the country.
The minister, who praised Buhari for his support, listed some of the achievements as Nigeria’s qualification for Russia 2018, D’Tigress’ triumph at the FIBA Afrobasket Women in Mali and the democratisation of appointments into the federation boards.