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President Buhari honours sports heroes ; Pinnick insists that Nigeria football is one big family

At the awards ceremony

President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari
President Muhammadu Buhari has rewarded sportsmen and women and their officials who brought honour to the country in the last seven months, as well as the 1985 Class of U-16 boys who won the inaugural FIFA Cadet World Cup title while he was military Head of State.
This was at a brief but impressive ceremony at the Conference Hall of the Presidential Villa on Thursday morning witnessed by top government functionaries, leading politicians, members of the National Assembly, members of the Diplomatic Corps and top sports administrators.
Rewarded were the ’85 Class of U-16 players and their coaches; men and women basketballers; powerlifters; world scrabble champion Wellington Jighere and officials; boxer Olanrewaju Durodola; athletes and officials; the U-17 world champion footballers and the U-23 Africa Cup of Nations winners.
Various monetary rewards, including N2million for each of the 1985 FIFA U-16 World Cup winners, N1.2million for the 2015 FIFA U-17 world champions and N500,000 for each of the Africa U-23 Cup of Nations winners, were doled out by President Buhari.
He said the monetary rewards represented “a token of appreciation for your efforts and patriotism,” even as he hailed the “consistency, determination, will-power and penchant for success in recent times” of Nigerian sportsmen. “I urge the managers of this sector to keep up the momentum.”
The President, who directed a one-minute silence in honour of late Kingsley Aikhiobare (a member of the U-16 world champions of 1985 who died in London in 1996), said the reception and rewards were “in line with our belief that the labours of our heroes past shall never be in vain.”
NFF President, Amaju Pinnick
NFF President, Amaju Pinnick
Nigerian Football Federation, NFF, President, Amaju Pinnick, has reiterated that the country’s football group is one big family, following Wednesday’s meeting with the Minister of Youth and Sports, Barr. Solomon Dalung and a group led by Ambassador Chris Giwa.
Pinnick also commended moves by the Minister to solidify the unity of the football family, and called on every member of the family to work assiduously in support of the present NFF administration to take the nation’s football to new heights.
“We want to say a big ‘Thank You’ to the Honourable Minister, the Permanent Secretary (Mr. Christian Ohaa) and the Director General, NSC (Mallam Alhassan Yakmut) for their wonderful efforts in trying to solidify the unity among the football family.
“Wednesday’s meeting was another of such efforts and we praise the attitude of the Honourable Minister, Permanent Secretary and Director General all through the meeting.
“The NFF wishes to reiterate that we remain focused as ever on the several programs that we have for this year. On Friday, the Super Eagles have an important match against Tunisia at the African Nations Championship.
“In two months, we have a crucial double –header against Egypt in the race for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.”
Pinnick appealed to persons in the football family with one grouse or the other to elevate national interest above personal aspiration, and to eschew bickering, as crisis was responsible for the failure of the Super Eagles to qualify for the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations held in Equatorial Guinea.
“We are calling on everyone to work with the present administration to consolidate on the glorious run of the various National Teams. This is a very, very important year for Nigeria football: the Super Eagles will conclude the qualification series for the 2017 Cup of Nations and start the qualification series for the 2018 FIFA World Cup. There is the Olympics football tournament in Rio. We also have age-grade women World Cup competitions and the African Women Championship, and qualifying campaigns for the U-20 and U-17 teams.
“The NFF is happy that the whole family remains united and committed to the attainment of more successes.”

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