The Federal Government has raised the alarm of underhand dealings in the mobilisation of Nigerians for the 2018 FIFA World Cup holding in Russia.
The Minister of Youths and Sports, Solomon Dalong, yesterday informed President Muhammadu Buhari about such shaddy dealings which, he said, included human trafficking and racketeering.
Addressing State House correspondents later, the minister said the situation, if not nipped in the bud, could batter Nigeria's image in lieu of the world's strict atttitude towards movement of citizens.
He said: "I raised concern about what is going on specifically the issue of mobilising of Nigerians for the World Cup because I have it on strong authority there are a lot of things going on looking more or less not suggesting something clean about how we intend to have people participate for World Cup.
"There are those who are busy writing names, misleading Nigerians that they will give them the access to participate in the World Cup and I have told them I am going to text them to make sure that anybody who is going to travel for the World Cup based on the government sponsorship, the person must be known.
"And the president must know so that we try to nip it in the bud, racketeering and human trafficking, because the attitude of the world as to issue of movement of citizens when there is sports or any other events have been very strict and we wouldn't want our image to be battered."
The minister said he also informed President Buhari about the need to mobilise more support for the Super Eagles especially as
the approved budget had not been released.
"We asked him to intervene so that the funds can be released because we have gotten all our funds from FIFA, from CAF, we have had a dinner for the team, our donors have redeemed their pledges. But on the side of government, we need to round it up and the president has assured he is going to do something about it immediately to ensure that that gap is closed.
"The delay is not actually affecting us because of the funds we have from FIFA for operation and from CAF. Indeed, the fund from the federal government is going to compliment our actual participation in Russia. So, we have funds from different sources to prepare. What we need now is the participation proper for the tournament and it is going to come from the government. So, it is not actually affecting our preparation," he said.
Dalong expressed confidence that the Nigerian team would be going to Russia as contestants, not as participants, saying "we are not going there to end midway, we are going there for the cup and we will do everything possible within our best to make sure that we get to realise our ambitions."
The minister assured that upfront, the Super Eagles would soon be paid all the allowances promised them.
He said he was satisfied with the selection process of players as he had given "the grand rule" that the National Technical Adviser, Gernot Rohr, should be given "a free hand to determine the team at every stage, no interferences, nobody should even suggest anything to him. So, that is his judgment."
Dalong said despite the current epidemic of the Ebola Virus Disease in the Democratic Republic of Congo, the Super Eagles would still play a friendly match with the country's team.
"Nigeria is going to play the friendly with DRC. I have discussed with the Federal Ministry of Health with the World Health Organization. In participation, we have reviewed the situation and received adequate information about it. So, we have agreed on major approaches. One, the DRC team is coming through a chartered flight and so those coming for the match will be using that chartered flight and they would have been screened from the DRC and they will be screened here in Nigeria.
"There is going to be no any other person that is going to be admitted using any other means of transportation for the match. We also discovered that the Ebola outbreak is limited to a particular place and it has not escalated. So, we wouldn't want to run the risk of setting a precedent which we will later be a victim.
"Based on that, we only introduced strict policies to ensure that the match takes place and the match will take place," the minister said.