Governor of Plateau State, Simon Lalong, has claimed President Muhammadu Buhari was shocked by reports that allowances were owed the Super Eagles for their first two matches against Burundi and Guinea, at the ongoing African Cup of Nations in Egypt.
Lalong disclosed this on Monday in Abuja, after he met with Buhari at the Presidential Villa. The players had protested at their Helnan Palestine Hotel in Egypt, although the Nigerian Football Federation (NFF) explained it was due to bank delays.
Lalong was on the government delegation that visited Egypt to watch the Nigeria’s games against Burundi and Guinea.
“I came to see the President on behalf of my state and on behalf of the 19 northern states as the Chairman of Northern Governors’ Forum.
“I came in to have a discussion with Mr President. Of course, many of you know that I just came back from Egypt where we went to cheer our Super Eagles. I also brought him the concerns of our players over there and he promised to handle the matter immediately.
“This is because football is a unifying factor in Nigeria and we should not joke with it. If they bring back the cup, it will cement our relationship and that is one of it,” he said.
On Buhari’s reaction to the players’ protest over unpaid allowances, Lalong said,
“Well, many of the concerns raised were that their allowances were not paid and Mr President expressed surprise because he signed these allowances and wondered why they were not paid to them.
“I was a footballer. It is not like before when you played football out of patriotism, now it is combined with the economic aspect.
“When you bring people, definitely from the ministry, you must ensure that their allowances are paid. We went there for the joy of it and the day we were there they won their match but when we left yesterday, I understand they lost to Madagascar.
“Defeating Guinea and allowing Madagascar to defeat us is a surprise, but I think with good motivation, these boys would bring back the cup.”