Posted by OLUKAYODE THOMAS | 21 October 2017 | 1,411 times

Senate President, Dr. Bukola Saraki

My dear Distinguished Senate President,

You may probably not remember me, but I am one of the diehard Buhari supporters that worked under you between 2014 and 2015, when we promised Nigerians change. My commitment to change was fuelled by my desire to see a Nigeria that will work like five fingers in my life time.

I am also passionate about sports because of its power to change stories faster and better than education and entertainment. But 29 months after we chased PDP away, the change for the better we promised remains a mirage.

My sector, sports, is the worst hit. Yes, we have witnessed change in the last 24 months under Solomon Dalung as Sports Minister, but it has been more of negatives than positives.

Sir, let me not bore you with the negatives that Dalung has inflicted on sports. That is a story for another day. The burning issue now is the letter Dalung sent to you, through the Chairmen of the Appropriation and Sports Committees, requesting for the National Assembly to appropriate money for the Super Eagles preparation and participation in the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup. Don’t fall for it sir, it is a scam. Knowing the emotional attachment of Nigerians to Super Eagles’ participation at the World Cup, Dalung followed up the letter with a press release to whip up public sentiments. In the release, Dalung made a passionate plea for appropriation of sufficient funds for the Russia 2018 World Cup.

The plot is not just a rip-off of the Federal Government; Dalung is also planning a stakeholder’s dinner which will include the National Assembly, State Governors and other concerned sports stakeholders to raise money for the same purpose. My dear SP, please disregard the letter, it is a scam. A cheap one for that matter; Yahoo Boys or 19 boys in Lagos would have done it better. As for the stakeholders’ dinner, trash the invitation card. It is all a ploy to swindle the society. This scam is as old as 1994 when Nigeria first qualified for the FIFA World Cup at the USA. It may even be older as such scams could have been perpetuated at other championships and games funded by organizers and host cities or countries, while officials of the Sports Ministry still collect money for preparation and participation from the Federal Government. My Distinguished Senate President, we are APC, we promised change, and we must put a stop to this act of corruption.

World Cup Preparation and Participation Financed by FIFA

For your information sir, FIFA World Cup is an all expense paid holiday for all the participating teams. The information I am giving out here is available online and your aides can check these facts. The financial rewards for qualifying for Russia 2018 is even better than that of Brazil 2014. If Dalung feigns ignorance of this before writing the National Assembly for appropriation and planning a stakeholder’s dinner to raise funds, then he has no business being Sports Minister.  For your information and that of members of the National Assembly Committees on Appropriation and Sports, who might not know, Nigeria and the other 31 teams that will vie for glory at the Russia 2018 World Cup will get $2 million each for preparations. After playing the first three games in the group stage, each team will get $10 million each. If our boys advance to round 16, they will pocket $12 million. Peradventure fortune smiles on our boys and they make it to the quarterfinal, the reward is an $18 million cheque.

If our team manages to get to the semi-final and they place fourth, $25 million is in the kitty; a third place guarantees them $30 million, second $40 million, and if Lady Luck beams on them and they are lucky to win the cup, it is comes with a $50 million jackpot.

More Goodies from FIFA

My Dear SP, the goodies do not end here. FIFA will insure all the players to the tune of $100 million, while the parents clubs of the participating players will share $70 million. FIFA’s generosity also includes the host association – that is Russia FA – bearing the costs of all domestic travel (road, rail or air) for each team’s delegation (maximum of 50 people per participating member association), including their equipment. 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.

Government Support Before FIFA’s Grant

One argument our officials usually employ to defend their request for money is that FIFA may not release funds immediately and that as soon as FIFA’s money is released, they will refund monies collected to the federation account. My dear SP, let Dalung show you records of such refunds since 1994 when we first qualified for the World Cup.

Since Nigeria is guaranteed $12 million from FIFA even if we lose our first three matches, the Sports Minister should approach any of our commercial banks who will gladly be our official banker to Russia 2018 World Cup to give them an overdraft, an advance, for the World Cup preparation and participation pending the receipt of FIFA’s money, this is the standard practice worldwide.

Our Boys Going to Participate Not to Win

My SP, don’t be swayed by Dalung’s sweet talk that it may be an impossible task for the team if something urgent is not done to raise the needed funds and that our boys will not make meaningful impact at the World Cup if the fund is not released early.

Even a neophyte in sports knows our boys’ chances of making an impact in Russia is zero. When we had very good players in 1994 and 1998, we did not rule the world, so anybody promising you that we will be the next Kings of the World is being stingy with the truth.

Sir, with the economy in recession, thousands of workers not paid or under paid, with roads, healthcare, education, housing and others in need of government’s financial intervention, appropriating billions for a team that is going for an all expenses paid championship is a crime against ordinary Nigerians. If perpetuators of such dastardly acts in the past are not brought to book, new ones should not be encouraged; in fact they should be named and sanctioned.

An Open Letter Instead of a Direct One

My Distinguished SP, I am sorry I decided to make this letter an open one instead of sending it through the official channels; but I have learnt from the Ibe Kachikwu and Maikanti Baru saga that there are extremely powerful aides to men in power who sit on letters for weeks and months. Please accept my sincere apology.

On a final note sir, action on this matter will redeem the image of our party. We are APC, and we should not perpetuate a scam.

Thanks and God bless.


OLUKAYODE THOMAS is a Lagos based journalist.

Source: Grand News

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