Omololu Ogunmade, Damilola Oyedele and James Emejo in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari led congratulatory messages streaming from across the country as the Super Eagles of Nigeria defeated the Chipolopolo of Zambia at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium, Uyo, saturday to qualify for the Russia 2018 World Cup.
The president, according a statement by his chief spokesman, Mr. Femi Adesina, described â€œthe hard-earnedâ€ victory of the Eagles as â€œvery sweet, soothing and a 57th Independence Anniversary gift to the nation.â€
The president applauded the team for being the first African country to qualify for Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup tournament, with a match left to play.
Adesina also said the president joined millions of football-loving Nigerians to rejoice with the players and their coaching crew and called on all Nigerians to apply the values of perseverance, resilience, discipline, hard work and team-spirit which he said propelled the footballers to excel since the beginning of the qualifying matches, to all sectors of national life.
â€œThe President promised that the Federal Government will continue to support the team within available resources so that the nation will maximise the unifying potentials of sports in general and football in particular.
â€œHe enjoined the entire team and Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) officials to remain steadfast and focused when they begin preparations for the global football fiesta in order to make Nigeria proud.
â€œPresident Buhari urged public, private organisations and well-meaning Nigerians to continue to assist the Super Eagles as the team heads for a sixth appearance at the summit of football competition.
â€œThe President also appreciates the government of Akwa Ibom State for the invaluable support it has been rendering to the football team, describing it as worthy of emulation,â€ the statement added.
Meanwhile, Senate President, Dr. Abubakar Bukola Saraki, also congratulated the Super Eagles and all Nigerians on the nationâ€™s qualification for the World Cup.
Saraki, in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media & Publicity, Yusuph Olaniyonu, said that being in Uyo to witness first-hand the dedication, poise and consistency of our players has given hope to all Nigerians that our team will represent Africa well at the next World Cup.
â€œI want to congratulate our players for the way that they have played throughout this whole qualifying phase,â€ the President of the Senate said, â€œIt is my hope, and the hope of millions across the country that our Super Eagles will represent our nation and the continent well at next yearâ€™s World Cup.
â€œIt was great to have been in Uyo to cheer you on to victory,â€ Saraki stated.
The President of the Senate also stated that the Senate would work to ensure that our players are well equipped and well-prepared for the 2018 outing, while also urging the Nigerian Football Federation and the Ministry of Sports to not take its feet off the pedal ahead of 2018.
â€œRight now, we must begin to plan and work towards victory for our Super Eagles,â€ Saraki said, â€œThey have made us proud on the field, now, the NFF, the Ministry of Sports, the sponsors, and all concerned stakeholders must work together to ensure that our players and the team thrive at the World Cup.
â€œAs our players continue to make us all proud and demonstrate the greatness in our diversity, I want to also congratulate all Nigerians. We can truly achieve great things when we come together.â€
Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Yakubu Dogara, also congratulated the team.
In a statement issued by Turaki Hassan, his Special Adviser on Media and Public Affairs, Dogara hailed members of the national team for their dedication and patriotism, and commitment to doing Nigeria proud.
He said: â€œThe Super Eagles have once again made us all very proud. Being the first African team to qualify for the World Cup is no small feat, and the sense of patriotism and dedication to national duty must be commended by all.â€
He further pledged the commitment of the House of Representatives to prioritising sports development and ensuring better welfare for athletes.
According to him: â€œThe team can rest assured that they will always have the support of the House, as weâ€™ve proven over time that the welfare of our athletes and development of sports in the country are of utmost importance to us.â€
â€œThey have done a great job flying the Nigerian flag and we wish them success at the World Cup tournament in Russia next year.â€
The Speaker called for early preparations for the 2018 World Cup.