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RUSSIA 2018 FIFA WORLD CUP: United by Kwaruption, PDP Senator and APC Minister seek govt fund for all-expense-paid championship

Dalung and sports ministry officials with members of the House Committee on Sport

When it comes to corruption, APC and PDP are Siamese Twins as exemplified by Sports Minister Solomon Dalung and Senator Obinna Ogba’s pressure on President Muhammadu Buhari to release money for the Russia 2018 World Cup, an all-expenses paid championship by FIFA. OLUKAYODE THOMAS writes that it is time for Nigerians to look to a new generation of patriotic leaders

It is shocking that Obinna Ogba, a PDP Senator and football administrator, could join Solomon Dalung, an APC Minister, to apply pressure on the Federal Government to release funds for the Super Eagles’ preparation for Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup. Ogba knows, unlike Dalung – a neophyte in sports – that all FIFA competitions, from age grade to the senior world cup, are fully funded by the world football governing body.

Ogba, as a member of the NFF board in 2010, played a conspicuous role in the impeachment of prominent board members that committed similar misconducts during the South Africa 2010 FIFA World Cup. The infractions included hiring the makeshift Hampshire Hotel in Ballito, Durban as Super Eagles camp.

That he can be associated with appropriating money for the FIFA World Cup and pressuring government to release funds less than a decade after his heroic feat is unbelievable.

Determined to get the fund he wants apportioned out by all means, the Distinguished Senator did the Undistinguished by claiming that late release of funds can jeopardize the Super Eagles’ chances of getting to the finals of the World Cup. The implication being that they stand a fair chance if logistics are put in place as we parade some of the best players in the big leagues.

The Distinguished Senator, a football aficionado per excellence, knows it will take a miracle for the Eagles to even qualify from their group and that a second round appearance will be a glowing outing for our team of average players.

Ogba also knows that apart from Victor Moses, a regular at Chelsea and Alex Iwobi, a fringe player at Arsenal, most of our players play for grade B or even lower clubs in obscure leagues in Eastern Europe or China. We may then ask why the undistinguished act of being stingy with the truth by the Distinguished Senator, for pecuniary gain perhaps?

World Cup financed by FIFA

For the umpteenth time, it is necessary to restate that Ogba and Dalung’s claim that the FIFA World Cup will cost Nigeria about N3 billion with FIFA providing N900million and football sponsors raising N600 million while the federal government would provide N2 billion is false.

The cost of Nigeria and the other 31 teams that will vie for glory at the Russia 2018 World Cup will be fully funded by FIFA.

Each team will get $2 million for preparations.

After playing the first three games, each team will get $10 million.  Teams that advance to round of 16 will pocket $12 million.

Quarter-finalists will get $18 million while semi-finalists and the team that places fourth get $25 million. A third place guarantees $30 million, second $40 million, and winner of the World Cup will go home with $50 million.

FIFA will also insure all the players to the tune of $100 million, while the parents club of the participating players will share $70 million.

Russia FA will bear the costs of all domestic travel (road, rail or air) for each team delegation.

They will also provide business class tickets for 50 people from each participating member association.

And if Nigeria decides to charter a private aircraft, FIFA’s obligation will be limited to the amount FIFA would have incurred had the participating member association used FIFA’s designated air carrier.

FIFA will also be responsible for lodging for 50 people from each participating member association, starting five nights prior to each team’s first match and ending two nights after its last match.

Dalung’s Sudden Love for the World Cup

Since the World Cup is an all-expense paid championships, why are Dalung and Ogba pressuring the Federal Government to release money for Super Eagles’ participation?

Is Dalung’s interest in Super Eagles’ participation a result of his patriotism or spurred by personal gains? Why the sudden love with the FIFA World Cup that he condemned and derided a few months ago?

It is on record that Dalung said Nigeria would be better off participating in other sporting events than the FIFA World Cup,

“That competition stinks of corruption; Nigeria is too poor to waste money on it. The cup that we can win is the African Cup of Nations. There is nothing again that will take us to another man’s balcony in the name of the World Cup.

“We already have the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics. For these, we can attend such meets. But I am opposed to the World Cup. We don’t agree to it. Conspiracy in the World Cup is too much.” Dalung told the media recently.

He also alleged bribery and favouritism as one of the reasons why Nigeria should not be in the world cup

“There is the issue of bribery and favouritism. There is also the issue of corruption before you are even given the hosting rights. We are here suffering from hunger and we don’t have money for such things’’.

So what has changed between the time he made the statement and now or is it a case of Dalung not engaging deeply before speaking?

Has hunger ended in the land? Has Nigeria met all her obligations to citizens in areas like education, healthcare, youth development, security, infrastructure, housing and others? Do we suddenly have N3 billion to waste on a championship Dalung used several negative adjectives to qualify?

Dalung has another bizarre idea, “By March, (2018) we intend to start paying the players their camping allowances upfront”.

Where is this done? Could this be sweet talks to deceive the public and stampede government to release money? This is May, (2018) no player has been paid any allowance, we don’t even have the final list of players, so who and who is Dalung planning to pay allowance to from March?

Taking Panadol for Pinnick’s headache with Fund Raising  

Ironically, the man that should be having headache should funding derail Super Eagles’ preparation for the World Cup, Amaju Pinnick, the President of NFF is not asking government for funds; so why are Dalung and Ogba taking panadol for Pinnick’s headache?

Rather than bothering the Federal Government, Pinnick has been doing what football associations do in saner climes; approaching corporate bodies for funding.

He recently revealed that the NFF has so far sealed contracts worth $50 million as Nigeria prepares for the World Cup in Russia.

Peradventure Pinnick’s marketing fails and FIFA funds for World Cup preparation are not released until after the world cup, I know for a fact that Pinnick knows one or two banks chief executives that will gladly give him a loan, even if they will demand a postdated cheque, which is even unlikely as they are his good friends.

Dalung’s botched fund raising dinner for the Super Eagles, slated for April 26, without the consent of the football governing body in Nigeria, the NFF is a scam. If a future date is announced, invitees are advised to keep their cheque books because the Super Eagles have all the funds they need for the world cup.

That Austin Eguavoen, Waidi Akanni, Daniel Amokachi and Samson Siasia could be to part of such inglorious scheme is still shocking.

They must apologize to Nigerians, especially members of the sports family, for their association with such an unholy venture.

Instead of appropriating money and pressuring President Buhari for funds for Eagles or organizing fund raising dinner, Ogba and Dalung should direct efforts to legislation and executive orders that will revive sports at the grassroots, provide sports facilities and equipment in all local governments, revive our football leagues and other sports that are comatose.

Sowore and the new generation to the rescue

With the shenanigans of APC and PDP appointed and elected leaders since 1999, Nigerians, especially the youth need no further motivation to vote for a genuine change in 2019.

The signatures of APC and PDP failure in security, healthcare, housing, education, transport, job creation, sports, and others are everywhere.

Thank God for a new breed of young, highly educated, exposed, patriotic and strong willed aspirants for the presidency like Omoyele Sowore. They, especially Sowore, present us with an opportunity to take back our country from these current selfish leaders who are only interested in pecuniary gains instead of leaving a legacy of good governance and making their country one of the best places in the world.

OLUKAYODE THOMAS is a Lagos based journalist