Akwa Ibom Governor Godswill Akpabio yesterday doled out N36.5 million to the Super Eagles of Nigeria for winning the 2013 African Cup of Nations (AFCON).
Akpabio, who announced the donation at the Government House Banquet Hall, Uyo, the state capital, raged at criticisms in the media over his donations to groups and individuals at different times, saying the press is still suffering from colonial mentality.
A breakdown of the donation shows that each of the 23 footballers smiled home with N1 million, Super Eagles Chief Coach, Stephen Keshi got N2 million, three assistant coaches received N1 million each while 17 back room officials got N.5 million each.
Akpabio also donated one three-bedroom flat to Akwa Ibom-born and Super Eagles Captain, Vincent Enyeama for doing the state and the nation proud during the football championship. The governor congratulated Super Eagles coaches and footballers for winning the cup, saying, ”We celebrate you. To you the players, you are the icons. For the coaches, we were praying collectively for you. You are the future of this country.”
He, however, condemned people who criticise his administration for making donations to individuals, organisations and the less-privileged when such are captured as grants in the yearly budgets as approved by the state House of Assembly. Akpabio lamented media criticisms on his alleged ‘fiscal recklessness’ saying the Nigerian press are still living with colonial mentality. He said: ”At this point of our existence, what should be important to Nigerians is development, unity and security challenges and not frivolous things.”
According to him, “Nigeria is a place where bad news is good news. Nigerian press has not yet learnt. From the West African Pilot, the press was set up in Nigeria to fight the colonial masters and to fight for independence”, adding, “many years after the colonial masters left, the Nigerian press is still fighting government and up till now they still don’t know that the colonial masters have gone.”
He maintained that any money he spends on donations or grants are captured in the budget as passed by the state House of Assembly. “If I donate to the church and you get angry with me should I donate to Satan?” Akpabio asked. The governor, who commended the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF), Chief Coach and other officials for visiting Akwa Ibom, applauded the Eagles for doing the country proud.
”We hardly see anything to celebrate about. That’s why when you did the miracle you did in South Africa, you brought back the Nigerian spirit. You gave even a three-year-old Nigerian child something to celebrate by winning the cup,” he said. Akpabio enjoined the footballers to learn from and emulate other footballers who have made names by shunning drug addiction and drunkenness in order to be relevant in the scheme of things in the future, adding, ”Now that God has given you a coach; you have to respect him and be disciplined. Without discipline, you cannot be successful.”
He further enjoined the footballers to, ”Hold unto God and call on Him always. It is not a tragedy when a non-entity becomes a failure. But it is a tragedy when a potentially achieving, young man becomes a a failure on account of character flaw. Your victory becomes a turning point in the nation. The Federal Government’s transformation policy cannot be complete if the youths are not transformed.”
Nigeria Football Federation president, Aminu Maigari thanked Akpabio for always supporting the Eagles and advised him to continue in his good work of promoting football development in the country. Earlier, Vincent Enyeama had thanked the governor for the show of love and generosity on them and asked him to continue as an uncommon transformer.