Last week, President Mohammadu Buhari approved the allocation of three-bedroom houses to each member of the 1994 national football team, the Super Eagles, and their officials, dead or alive.
The President’s gesture was in fulfillment of a 27-year-old promise the federal military government under the late General Sani Abacha made to members of the squad after winning that year’s Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Tunisia.
Though long overdue, we commend the President for his magnanimity towards hard working Nigerians. For this set of Eagles, the first to win the AFCON trophy away from home soil, it had been 27 long years of pain, anguish and disappointment due to apathy, lack of commitment and the political will by successive Nigerian governments towards their cause.
Some members of the squad died while waiting for the government’s fulfillment of that promise. President Buhari has, by this action, scored a positive index in his government’s commitment to Nigerian youths.
This was not the first time that President Buhari has demonstrated his magnanimity to Nigeria’s past heroes. In 2016, the President rewarded members of the 1985 national U-17 squad that won the first FIFA/JVC U-17 World Cup with N2 million each.
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Interestingly, the Nduka Ugbade-captained Golden Eaglets won the trophy when President Buhari was the military Head of State but could not appreciate their efforts before he was overthrown. Rewards for hard work, especially from an appreciative government to its nationals, go a long way in firing up the zeal of citizenship and nationhood in them.
It couldn’t have come at a better time than now that the average Nigerian youth seems to have been overwhelmed by an unjust society where there appears to be no plan for their future. Frustrated and blinded by the vagaries of life, the Nigerian youth have resorted to all manner of self-destructive social ills.
That is why we view the President’s gesture as an assurance to the youth that every honest effort that brings honour and glory to self and country deserves reward. It was former President of the United States of America J. F. Kennedy who said: ‘think not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country’. Our youth should not give up hope on Nigeria, but must continue to strive to make things work, and they would be the better for it.
The timing of the President’s gesture is perfect as it is bound to impact positively on Team Nigeria preparing for the Tokyo Olympics, beginning next month. The athletes would be motivated, feeling at the back of their minds that a good performance at the Tokyo Games could guarantee good reward.