The Minister of Sports and Youth Development, Solomon Dalung, has revealed what was discussed in his meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, yesterday.
The Minister said the President charged him and other sport administrators in the country to ensure that the Super Eagles are not mere spectators at the competition.
The Minister disclosed this to State House correspondents after briefing the President on the progress recorded by the country in sporting activities last year.
He said, “2017 was a very good year in sports for Nigeria, we had the best outing. We had a Democratic elections into the federations and that has helped us tremendously because the federations are up and doing and their hauling in medals in almost all the competitions.
“I briefed him about our plans for 2018 because it is a sports year right from February to August, there is no dull moment. Right from CAF African Nations Championship (CHAN) to African Youth Champion in wrestling taking place in Port Harcourt, to Commonwealth Games scheduled for Gold Cost, Queensland.
“We need the support of the president as usual and funding as it is required to enable our teams succeed.
“Well so far so good. For the commonwealth games we have had all the budgetary allocations released and we are on course. The athletes are in camp, they are training. We have athletes in Port Harcourt while others are in Abuja.
“The challenge basically has been lack of training facilities. As we all know training facilities has to do with infrastructural deficit in sports because of long time neglect.
“The visit I made to Lagos the athletes are in high Spirit and are maximizing the available facilities on ground to do their best but we will cap it up possibly with our budget support with foreign camping. After reviewing what is available to us If we can guarantee it then we can export some of our areas of comparative advantage we will send some of our athletes to foreign countries.”
He said that President Buhari encouraged him to in 2018 sustain the tempo of the successes recorded so far in 2017, especially with the World Cup in Russia.
Dalung added, “He challenged me to ensure that Nigeria does not go to Russia 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 for the bonuses is in terms of progression according to performance at the World Cup.”
Nigeria will play Croatia, Iceland and Argentina in the group stage of the World Cup in Russia.