By Femi Adefioye, Lagos
President Muhammadu Buhari has stated that 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 Â on Monday, he 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 Infantinoâ€™s programme to reform the world game through transparency, anti-corruption and good governance.
The President pledged Nigeriaâ€™s support to FIFA presidentâ€™s reform agenda, noting that they were similar to those his presidency had outlined to resuscitate Nigeria.
â€˜â€˜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 â€˜I better-pass-my neighbourâ€™ to watch the game.
â€˜â€˜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,â€™â€™ he said.
â€˜â€˜Accountability is serious business and I welcome you (Infantino) into the club of accountable Chief Executive Officers,â€™â€™ 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.
â€˜â€˜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, â€™â€™ 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.