Nations Cup Victory: Jonathan Splashes N5m On Supporters' Club
SAN FRANCISCO, February 13, (THEWILL) – President Goodluck Jonathan has rewarded the Rauf Oladipupo-led Nigerian Football Supporters Club with N5million cash gift for standing by the victorious Eagles through thick and thin at the just concluded African Cup of Nations in South Africa.
The president announced the cash gift, Wednesday morning in Abuja, barely a day after he 'spoiled' the Super Eagles with cash and land gifts at a grand reception held at the Banquet Hall of the State House.
The president announced the cash reward before the commencement of the weekly Federal Executive Council (FEC) meeting held inside the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa where he also formally presented the trophy to FEC .
As the trophy was passed round the FEC members who had a feel of it and took pictures with it, Jonathan expressed gratitude to the members of the Supporters Club: "We want to thank them for their consistent show of support, even when the team is not wining, they never stopped their drumming. This is not an easy task.
"I know that it is challenging to manage a team. We will continue to praise and encourage the boys and charge them to ensure they qualify for the World Cup and get to the final.
"We also commend the supporters' club. This really escaped me yesterday (on Tuesday) when we were announcing gifts for the players. Government will give the club N5m to encourage them. It is not easy supporting a team, be singing and dancing even when it seems the team is not winning. We need to encourage them," he said.
The president also praised the Sports Minister, Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi , saying his mentorship was instrumental to directing the team to victory.
"If you had lost, you would have felt so humiliated, so we must thank you for guiding them to victory," Jonathan said.
The Minister of Sports, Abdullahi,who opened the floor for the FEC members to respond to Jonathan's gesture, thanked President Jonathan for having confidence in his ability and giving him the chance to steer the affairs of the ministry despite the woeful performance of Team Nigeria at the London 2012 summer Olympics
He stated that the failure galvanised the president to convene a Sports Retreat which " brainstormed on how to get the best out of the Sports sector rather than resorting to disband and send everybody home, after the failure of Team Nigeria at the London Summer Games.".
Abdullahi, who recalled how he prayed fervently for the success of the Super Eagles, recalled that about three weeks ago, he made a presentation to FEC on the team's preparation and called for their prayers, a request, he said, the President gladly obliged.
"We can conveniently say that God has answered our prayers after 19 years of waiting. With the winning, the mood of the country has changed. God rewarded the President's passion and commitment because before now, past administrations tried without success. God ordained it that this will happen during your (Jonathan's) time," he said.
Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, in his remarks described football as very crucial to national development, saying the nation stood still for the final match.
"When the match was being played, we were here and we watched it. The whole country stood still for the match. Even Boko Haram and kidnappers suspended actions during the match. Football has always been crucial to national development," he said.
He recalled that agitations for the actualisation of the annulled June 12, 1993 presidential election as well as the civil war were also stopped for a period because of football matches.
Minister of Interior, Aba Moro, said prayers and hard work were responsible for the nation's victory at the tournament.
"A combination of patience as exemplified by the First Lady (Mrs. Patience Jonathan) and the resilience of the President gave us the good luck we are celebrating. Those were the things that saw Nigeria through this crystal moment. Prayers and hard work saw us through. The lesson for us is that if we are patient, committed and work hard, Nigeria will go places. We will continue to assist you to achieve greater things for the country," he said.
Minister of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Olugbenga Ashiru, said with the Super Eagles' victory, Nigeria had been re-branded among the comity of nations.
"With this victory, Nigeria has been rebranded. For the next six months, we do not need to spend money on external publicity because that match was watched all over the world," Ashiru said.
Minister of Women Affairs, Hajia Zaynab Maina, said the Super Eagles were able to achieve the feat because the women of Nigeria were solidly behind them and the President.
"The victory happened because you (the President) have women solidly behind you. God that answers women's prayer has answered us. I like your confidence. When you put some women in the council, you can see what women are doing. Nigerian women congratulate you and stand solidly behind you," she said.
Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, described the victory of the Super Eagles as fantastic.
"It is a fantastic win. It signalled an opening up of the sports sector under your (the President's) leadership where we can create jobs through it. For our young people, the spirit of negativisim that tends to prevail has been turned around. This is just the beginning," she said.
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