The chairman of the Sports Committee of the Nigerian Senate, Chief Obinna Ogba, has raised the alarm that there is yet no fund for the Super Eagles of Nigeria trip to Zambia for the kick-off of the Russia 2018 World Cup qualification campaign.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) President Amaju Pinnick was also reported to have expressed his frustrations at the situation of funding for the team and had been holding several meetings with the Minister of Youth and Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung, to find a way out but no positive words have been issued.
This confirms an earlier report on the difficulties which was however refuted by the NFF.
The Super Eagles are scheduled to take on Zambia’s Chipolopolo on October 9 at the Mwasawana Stadium in Ndola but Senator Ogba who spoke to the media by the side of the consummation of the partnership between Nigeria’s FC Ifeanyi Ubah and English Premiership club, West Ham, at the Eko Hotel, Lagos, regretted that the issue of unstable funding for sports has continued to escalate.
“We have been begging government to release funds for sports, not just to release funds but to release fund on time. We had this situation ahead of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The sports minister kept saying that there was fund until it turned out that the fund was released only a few days to the games. Now, the Super Eagles are billed to travel to Zambia this weekend for the World Cup qualifiers and there is no fund yet. It is hard to say if starving sports of funds is the official policy of this government but this is not good for the country.”
The senator revealed that in a bid to discuss issues affecting sports, the minister of sports was invited by the Senate Committee on Sports but that he did not honour the invitation.
“We invited the minister to discuss these issues but he did not turn up. We have informed the senate on the development and the leadership of the senate will take action.”
There are fears that despite the Super Eagles failure to qualify for two Africa Cup of Nations in a row, the sports minister might be unenthusiastic about supporting the NFF to fulfill its mandate. There are suspicions that perhaps in reaction to some controversies in Nigerian football the minister may be unfazed if football is destroyed in the country ostensibly in favour of other sports.
Senator Ogba however remained optimistic that fund will eventually be provided for the Super Eagles to honour the fixture.
“At the end of the day, the Super Eagles must go to Zambia and the match must be played.”
The senator hinted that the senate is working on a framework to discharge government of the responsibility of funding elite sports.
“We are working to see that at the end of this 8th senate, we would pass a law to remove government from funding sports, at least 90 per cent.”
Senator Ogba also decried the state of Nigeria’s sports facilities indicating that that the senate would support the move to concession some of Nigeria’s major sporting assets.
Referring particularLy to the national stadiums in Abuja and Lagos which have been in disuse, he noted that something has to be done in the area of maintenance of facilities.
“The Bayern Munich Stadium was built the same year as the National Stadium, Lagos. Today, the Munchen Stadium is still in good state and infuse while our own has been surrendered to Lizards and other rodents. If concession is the only way to revive them, why not. We say no to outright sales of our national assets but concessioning is different from sales.”