Muhammadu Buhari
By Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari at the weekend, tasked the Minister of Sport, Solomon Dalung, to ensure that Nigeria’s party to 2018 World Cup in Russia does not end up like that of a spectator.
Buhari issued the charge when Dalung met with him in the Presidential Villa on Friday to brief him on the degree of preparation for the World Cup and other sporting activities in 2018.
He also said the president encouraged him to ensure that the spate of successes recorded in sports in the country last year is sustained.
According to him, the president also charged him to ensure that bonuses of players are paid upfront.
“Well, the president encouraged me to, in 2018, sustain the tempo of the successes recorded so far in 2017 especially with the World Cup in Russia. He challenged me to ensure that Nigeria does not go to Russia as a mere spectator.
“Of course, I also informed him that part of the measures we have taken to address some of the challenges is to ensure that by March, all the players are paid their match training and camp allowances upfront but the bonuses are in terms of progression according to performance at the World Cup,” he said.
Dalung also disclosed that to ensure that the team is adequately prepared, a number of friendly matches have been lined up for the Super Eagles.
He also said the budget for the event had been approved as he disclosed that the tournament would cost Nigeria N3 billion out of which he said government would contribute N1.2 billion.
“For the World Cup, apart from the friendlies we have now, we have lined up five friendlies with top participating in the World Cup and top ranking countries that did not make the World Cup so as to strengthen our preparation.
“The budget has been approved but has not been released. The difference we have in the budgetary allocations this time is that the budget is funded by both the government, private sector and the federation because of insistence that the era where government alone will fund such competition alone is no more acceptable.
“There are grants released by organisers (FIFA) to complement efforts of government. This must be declared and included in the budget. And then, the monies realised from sponsorships and marketing will also have to be declared to constitute the budget that will be declared for the World Cup. 
“So, we have a round figure that has been budgeted which is N3 billion but the Nigeria Football Federation will raise about N1.5 billion from what we are getting from FIFA and corporate Nigeria, the private sector. Government is expected to turn in N2 billion or N1.5 billion for the competition,” he added.