Speaker of the House of Representatives, Hon. Aminu Tambuwal, Wednesday said that the victory of the Super Eagles in the just concluded Africa Cup of Nations under an indigenous coach was an indication that Nigeria had come of age and could do without the age-long craze for an expatriate coach to lead the national team.
He however, urged the team not to depart from the path of success but to brace up for the tasks ahead which includes defending the trophy and preparing for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.
Tambuwal made these observation while addressing the senior national soccer team at a special plenary session held in their honour by the House of Representatives.
The reigning African soccer champions got a heroic reception as a motion was moved to admit them into the hallowed chambers of the House of Representatives.
The victorious team was accompanied by the Head Coach, Stephen Keshi, Assistant Coach, Daniel Amokachi, President, Nigeria Football Federation, Mallam Aminu Maigari, Director General, National Sports Commission, Dr Patrick Ekeji and Dr Rafiu Ladipo, the president general of the Nigerian Football Supporters Club.
In his remarks, Tambuwal said that going forward, all that Nigeria required was to believe in the indigenous coaches and replicate what has been achieved by Stephen Keshi, the head coach of the Super Eagles at AFCON 2013.
"This marks the first time that the nation is lifting the cup under the midwifery of an entirely indigenous coaching crew led by an indigenous coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi.
"It is only now that we can truly say that we have come of age in the game and never again shall we go cap in hand on a recruitment drive for foreign coaches. All we need do is to replicate Keshis, the Amokachis, the Siasias and others. We did not loose a single game throughout the competition. Indeed the bigger the team, the more convincingly we beat them.
"This special session holds today to relish, cherish, celebrate and honour you for this uncommon achievement that no doubt marks a new beginning in the annals of Nigerian Soccer and the rebirth of our national pride and global image in this round leather game.
"I know that we speak the minds of the Nigerian people if we state here that since Sunday the 10th February 2013 when you lifted the revered Africa Cup of Nations trophy in far away South Africa. You literally lifted the spirit of the nation and altered the focus from that of a slumbering giant consumed in the lamentations of hopelessness to that of renaissance in the thread of self confidence and success of yesteryears that nurtured our collective national pride," Tambuwal said.
He described the victory as a lesson, in self confidence, self respect, sheer doggedness and personal sacrifice in the promotion of national interest.
He urged the team not to depart from the path of success but to brace up for the task ahead.
"We seek not merely to be African champions because that much we have been twice before, but seek to be the greatest. Our goal therefore must be to overtake whatever achievements in this continental soccer competition attained by other nations. In this regards, let us remind ourselves that Egypt has lifted the trophy seven times, Ghana and Cameroun have done so four times each and all these three countries have lifted the trophy thrice back to back.
"I therefore charge us all that for a start this trophy must not leave the shores of this great nation in the next five editions of the competition so that we shall not only have lifted it for the most number of times but become the first nation to lift it six times back-to-back. Only then shall we proclaim that we are the greatest," Tambuwal said.
Meanwhile the House has urged the Federal Government to improve the funding of football and other sports by improving existing facilities and developing new ones.
The lawmakers also urged the government to collaborate with the private sector in the development of local talents in sports.
These were part of the resolutions that followed a motion on the victory of the Super Eagles at the AFCON 2013.
Chairman, House Committee on Sports, Hon. Godfrey Gaiya who sponsored the motion called on the private sector to invest in sports development through sponsorship of tournaments as part of their corporate social responsibility.
Gaiya also requested members of the National Assembly to design and sponsor sporting activities in their various constituencies to augment government's efforts in sports development.