The Federal Government has raised the alarm over underhand dealings in the mobilisation of Nigerians for the 2018 FIFA World Cup holding in Russia next month.
Minister of Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalung, yesterday informed President Muhammadu Buhari about such dealings which, he said, included human trafficking and racketeering.
Addressing State House correspondents after the meeting, Dalung said the situation, if not nipped in the bud, could batter Nigeria’s image in vieu of the world’s strict attitude towards movement of citizens.
He said: “I raised concern about what is going on specifically the issue of mobilising of Nigerians for the World Cup because I have it on strong authority there are a lot of things going on looking more or less not suggesting something clean about how we intend to have people participate for World Cup.
“There are those who are busy writing names, misleading Nigerians that they will give them the access to participate in the World Cup and I have told them I am going to text them to make sure that anybody who is going to travel for the World Cup based on the government sponsorship, the person must be known.
“And the president must know so that we try to nip it in the bud, racketeering and human trafficking, because the attitude of the world as to issue of movement of citizens when there is sports or any other events have been very strict and we wouldn’t want our image to be battered.”
The minister said he also informed President Buhari about the need to mobilise more support for the Super Eagles especially as the approved budget had not been released.
“We asked him to intervene so that the funds can be released because we have gotten all our funds from FIFA, from CAF, we have 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 he is going to do something about it immediately to ensure that that gap is closed.
“The delay is not actually affecting us because of the funds we have from FIFA for operation and from CAF. Indeed, the fund from the federal government is going to compliment our actual participation in Russia. So, we have funds from different sources to prepare. What we need now is the participation proper for the tournament and it is going to come from the government. So, it is not actually affecting our preparation,” he said.
Dalung expressed confidence that the Nigerian team would be going to Russia as contestants, not as participants, saying “we are not going there to end midway, we are going there for the cup and we will do everything possible within our best to make sure that we get to realise our ambitions.”
The minister assured that upfront, the Super Eagles would soon be paid all the allowances promised them.
He said he was satisfied with the selection process of players as he had given “the grand rule” that the National Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, should be given “a free hand to determine the team at every stage, no interferences, nobody should even suggest anything to him. So, that is his judgment.”