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By Tony Ezimakor, Snr. Correspondent, Abuja
President Goodluck Jonathan has charged Super Eagles coach, Stephen Keshi to qualify the team for the 2014 World cup in Brazil, even as he throws his weight behind him.
Obviously reacting to Keshi’s ‘resignation’ due in part to administrative lapses, Jonathan who supervised an unprecedented reward for the team, said that the nation’s hunger for success in football has been satisfied by the performance of the team, which he charged to qualify for the World Cup.
“ You (Keshi) have done very well by putting smiles in our faces; the World Cup in Brazil is next on your agenda. Nigeria must qualify for the World Cup. Let me assure you that you have my full support”, he told the technical crew headed by Stephen Okechukwu Keshi.
Restating the unifying role which sports and football in particular play in the life of the nation, the President maintained that it does not matter to anybody if those that filed out in the Green-White -Green colours are from one family or one part of the country.
“I does no matter to me whether the person representing the country is Moses or Musa. It is not important to me whether it is Christopher or Mustapha. What is important for me is for the flag of Nigeria to continue to fly high.”
Amid applause Jonathan commended the team for exhibiting true resilient Nigeria spirit despite walls of doubt and skepticism built over 19 years of failed effort.
According to him the victory was a clear testimony that with hard work, self belief and commitment, genuine effort would be rewarded, adding that the Nations Cup trophy was the highest gift presented to the country in the year of her centenary celebration.
The President thereafter announced National Honours award for the team and members of the technical crew with Keshi bagging the award of Commander of the Order of the Niger (CON) while team captain Joseph Yobo, Assistant coaches; Daniel Amokachi, Sylvanus Okpalla, Ike Shorunmu and Benin Republics’ Valeria all bagged Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON). The players were each decorated with Member of the Order of the Niger (MON).
Aside cash reward of N5 million for the players and and assistant coaches,and N10 million gift to Keshi, the team also got plot of land in Abuja, the federal capital city, certificates of which were presented in their names.
Cash gifts also poured in from captains of industries with President Jonathan announcing cash donations of half a million dollars each for Jim Ovia, Tony Elumelu, Emeka Offor and Mike Adenuga Jr. Africa’s richest man Aliko Dangote, he said donated the sum of $1 million dollars to be shared N5 million each to he players while the balance go to the technical crew.