Observes minute silence for Akhionbare
THEY waited for 30 long years, a period in which one of them, Kingsley Akhionbare, joined the great beyond, but yesterday at the Aso Rock Villa members of the victorious team of the China 1985 FIFA U-16 Championship were made to smile as a grateful nation finally rewarded them for service to the country.
Incidentally, President Muhammadu Buhari was the Military Head of State when the team, led by Sebastian Brodericks, beat Germany 2-0 to win the Kodak trophy. But he was removed in a palace coup before he could fulfill his promise of rewarding the members of the team.
But in a elaborate ceremony yesterday, each of the players were rewarded with N2 million, while their coaches were given N 1.5 million.
Before the event started, the president called for a one-minute silence in honour of a member of the team, Kingsley Aikhionbare, who died in London in 1996.
Apart from the members of the 1995 set, the winners of the Chile 2015 FIFA U-17 World Cup, were also given N1.2 million each, their Head Coach – N900, 000, Assistant Coaches – N600, 000, while the Team Secretary and Medical Team were rewarded with N300, 000 each and other officials got N200, 000.
The players of the 2015 CAF U-23 Cup of Nations team each got N500, 000; Head Coach got N500, 000; while
Assistant Coaches and other Team Officials got N300, 000 each.
Apart from footballers, the President also announced financial rewards for various categories of athletes, who brought honour and laurels to Nigeria in various international competitions, especially in the last seven months of his assumption of office as a democratically-president of Nigeria.
Speaking at the event, Buhari praised the athletes for always proving to the world that the Nigerian spirit is indomitable and assured that the Federal Government “would not relent in its efforts to ensure that our sportsmen and women continue to excel in international competitions.”