The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Solomon Dalung, has updated President Muhammadu Buhari on the Super Eagles’ preparations for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
Dalung, who spoke to State House correspondents after the closed door meeting with President Buhari, on Monday, said he briefed the president on the performance of the country’s team at the recently concluded Commonwealth games in Australia.
The minister said he urged the president to intervene in ensuring early release of the approved budget for effective participation of the Super Eagles in the World cup.
“I also briefed him on the world cup, the friendly matches we have played so far, the ones we won and the ones we lost.
“And, I briefed the president further on engagements in the friendly matches ahead and the need for the president to mobilise more support for the team.
“And on the approved budget, I informed him that we have not gotten the releases and he has to intervene so that the funds can be released, because we have gotten all our funds from FIFA, CAF and we had a dinner for the team.
“Our donors have redeemed their pledges, but on the side of government, we need to round it up and the president has assured that he will do something about it immediately to ensure that that gap is closed.’’
The minister alerted Nigerians on the activities of fraudsters and human traffickers hiding under the forthcoming world cup tournament in Russia, to deceive and defraud innocent citizens.
According to him, the fraudsters are currently collecting names of innocent football fans with a fake promise of transporting them to Russia for participation in the FIFA World Cup.
“I also raised concern about what is going on specifically with the issue of mobilising Nigerians for the World Cup.
“Because, I have it on strong authority that there are a lot going on, looking more or less not suggesting something clear about how we intend to have people participate in the world cup.
“There are those who are busy writing names misleading Nigerians that they would give them the access to participate in the world cup.
“I told him we are going to take steps to make sure that anybody who is going to travel for the world based on government sponsorship, must be known and the president has to approve so that we try to nip in the bud, racketeering and human trafficking.
“Because the attitude of the world as to the issue of movement of citizens even during sports or any other event, has been very, very strict and we wouldn’t want our image to be bartered.’’
On the pre-world cup friendly with Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Dalung said Nigeria would go ahead with the match in spite of the resurface of Ebola Virus Disease in the DRC.
He, however, stated that measures had been put in place to safeguard the safety of the players and other Nigerians noting, that all those coming from the DRC including the players would be screened both in DRC and Nigeria before the match.
He said: “Nigeria is going to play the friendly match with DRC in spite of the outbreak of Ebola.
“I have discussed with the Federal Ministry of Health and the World Health Organisation (WHO). We have reviewed the situation and received adequate report about it.
“So, we have agreed on major approaches on the matter.
“The DRC team is coming through a chartered flight and therefore those coming for the match will be using that chartered flight and they would have to be screened from DRC and they would also be screened here in Nigeria.
“There is going to be no any other person that is going to be admitted using any other means of transportation to come for the match.
“We also discovered that the Ebola outbreak in DRC is limited to a particular place and it has not escalated.’’