President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday donated the sum of N50 million to the Nigerian Football Supporters Club Worldwide, towards the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
He made the donation on behalf of the Federal Government after being decorated as the Grand Patron of the Nigeria Football Club Worldwide, with a promise to convince the senior boys in the country to double the amount.
The brief decoration ceremony was held shortly before the commencement of the Federal Executive Council meeting, at the Council Chambers of the Presidential Villa.
The President was decorated by the President General of the club Rafiu Ladipo, assisted by the National Sports Commission Chairman and Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, the Director General of the Sports Commission, Gbenga Elegbeleye and the President of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Aminu Maigari, with a white agbada embroided with green and white, with a green matching cap, a Sach, a staff, and a World Cup like trophy which serves as his stave of office while Vice President Namadi Sambo was given a green camouflage.
Jonathan said: “I count it a great honour for this conferment on me, and decoration as the grand patron of the Nigeria Football Supporters club worldwide. I consider myself now formally recognized as number one supporter of the Nigeria football supporters club. But this decoration is dedicated to all members of my cabinet and indeed all Nigerians of goodwill because without the support of the ministers in charge of sports and other ministers that play key role and indeed all Nigerians that continue to support you and our teams, the achievements would not be possible. So we all share in this joy today.
“I have always been keen supporter of our national teams in all sports. This ceremony however officially confer on me the formal responsibility of leading our supporters in cheering our national football teams whenever we are engaged in competitions. I hope to be with you in Brazil.
“The supporters clubs as you are all aware has come of age having been in existence for about 57 years now. I am aware that the activities of the club centers primarily on rendering the necessary supports for all the national football teams anywhere they are involved in football competitions. I want to commend the Nigerian supporters club for services to our great country. I’m told some of you make great sacrifices of funding your trips to competitions in support of our national teams. Your services are voluntarily and purely out of passion football and patriotism for your fatherland.
“It is therefore joyful to be associated with the club which has contributed greatly in creating unique identity for our national football teams and in the process has brought smiles on the faces of millions of Nigerians through it’s encouraging songs, drums and trumpets to produce cheering music that is uniquely Nigerian. There is no doubt that your activities as we have witnessed over the years has helped in no small measure to give our players confidence to excel whenever they compete around the world. I urge you not to relent in your efforts.
“We all know that the difference between the home and away matches is the support that you have. And through the activities of the Nigerian football supporters club you have been able to create home ambience for players even when they are playing in foreign land. We really appreciate what you have been doing.
“On your parts you have won lots of awards as best supporters club at several football competitions, you deserve commendation as a truly national brand and the nation is most grateful to you all.
“As the grand patron of the Nigerian football supporters club, mg Administration will not relent in giving the support required to our sports men and women to excel in all international football competitions, this by extension includes the nigerian football supporters club. And I enjoined your strong partnership in this regard.
“This year 2014 is a very significant year for sports as we prepare for the world cup in Brazil and the Commonwealth Game immediately after, I urge the Nigerian football supporters club not to relent in it’s very important role in cheering our athletes and sports men to victory. Indeed, every Nigerian should be a member of this supporters club.
“So next time our sports men and women are playing, be proud to sing along and swing to the beats in your sitting room.
“The federal government and indeed all Nigerians appreciate and we need to encourage you to go to Brazil. The federal Government is going to give you a token but I will personally consult with the senior boys to add something to that. The federal government is going to start it with the sum of N50 million. But I am hopeful that by the time I will talk to some of our senior boys, I think the money may even double.
“I thank the Nigerian football supporters club most sincerely for this recognition and may God bless us all”.
The President General of the Supporters Club, Ladipo told the President that the group plans to travel with 1,000 supporters. He said 500 would depart from Nigeria, while the other 500 would Nigerians in the Diaspora.
Ladipo said the club decided to honour because of the numerous achievements his assistance has brought to sports in the country and in football in particular.
“Why we decided to honour you is because of the numerous achievement of our national team, this would not have been possible but for your support. Your luck gave us the U17 world cup in 2013, the first time we took part in CHAIN and we came home with the golden bronze. But for you fatherly support we would not have qualified for the world cup. You have supported us in the past to support our teams.
“We want to go with 1,000 Nigerians to Brazil, 500 from Nigeria and some 500 from other Nigerians in other parts of the world. We have offices in all the places. I want to assure you that we will be in at least the semi-final at the world cup”.
Ladipo also commended the Sports Minister that the NFF for their support to the club as well.