Friday, February 26, 2016

President Muhammadu Buhari rewards Nigeria national football team after 30-year wait

The Nigeria squad that won the first Fifa Under-16 World championship have been rewarded after a 30-year wait.

New Nigeria president Muhammadu Buhari has made good on a promise to reward the players after the 1985 tournament when he was the military head of state.

Nduka Ugbade, captain of the team who beat West Germany 2-0 in the final in Beijing, told BBC Sport: "I have finally received my money.

"I am extremely delighted that our president has fulfilled his promise."

Buhari had promised the players a house, stock in the central bank and a scholarship and other incentives after their success but soon after he was ousted by another military regime and the country's government never fulfilled his pledges.

Following Buhari's election as president last year he announced in January a 2m naira ($10,000; £7,000) reward for each of the players and 1.5m for the officials.

"He's truly a man of his word and on behalf of myself and the team I say a big 'thank you' to our president," added Ugbade.

"I would also like to thank the sports ministry, Alhassan Yakmut of the sports commission, the Nigerian Football Federation, both local and international media, and everyone involved in this great story."

'Minute's silence'

Another of the winning squad Jonathan Akpoborie, who went on to represent the country at senior level, told BBC Sport: "I have spoken to some of my colleagues and they are happy that the president has delivered on his promise.

"This gesture - and not the amount involved - will change the perception of unfulfilled promises in our country."

However, the rewards came too late for Kingsley Aikhionbare, who died in London in 1996. At the presentation to the players a minute's silence was held in his honour.

The Under-16 World Championship was contested three times before it was changed to the Under-17 world Championship in 1991.

Nigeria won the Fifa under-17 World Cup in 1993, 2007, 2013 and 2015.


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