Femi Adesina; Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari Monday in Abuja said his administration will pay keen interest to accountability and transparency to fast-track football development in the country.
Receiving the FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, and the Secretary-General, Fatma Samuora, at State House, President Buhari challenged football administrators to fashion out strategic programmes to develop the game.
Congratulating the duo on their election, particularly Samuora, the first African and female to be elected FIFA Secretary-General, President Buhari welcomed Infantino’s programme to reform the world game through transparency, anti-corruption and good governance.
The President pledged Nigeria’s support to FIFA president’s reform agenda, noting that they were similar to those his presidency had outlined to resuscitate Nigeria.
‘‘Majority of Nigerians are married to football. In the rural areas, when there is no electricity and there is a game to watch, Nigerians go to the extent of renting small generators, popularly known as ‘I better-pass-my neighbour’ to watch the game.
‘‘We will take the development of football very seriously and I encourage the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to behave itself and organise effective competitions for the good of the game,’’ he said.
‘‘Accountability is serious business and I welcome you (Infantino) into the club of accountable Chief Executive Officers,’’ the President said.
In his remarks, Infantino asked the Nigerian authorities to pay attention to infrastructure and find a lasting solution to the problem of violence and insecurity at match venues.
‘‘I foresee Nigeria as a bedrock for the development of the game in Africa, however infrastructure, stability and security are needed to make this happen, ’’ he said.
The FIFA officials were accompanied by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Barr. Solomon Dalung, NFF President, Amaju Pinnick and President, Nigeria Olympic Committee, Engr. Habu Gumel.