Former MFM FC coach Nduka Ugbade has revealed how the long-delayed monetary reward for the victorious U17 outing in China ’85 was “cut” from N20 million to N2 million.
Ugbade who captained the Nigerian side to victory in the U17 tournament disclosed this in a chat with Vanguard Sports. Responding to a question on his saddest moment in football, Ugbade said:
“Then my saddest moment was when we came back and there was a military coup that removed the government of General Mohammadu Buhari and Brigadier-General Tunde Idiagbon who was his second-in-command. We were sad that most of the promises made to us were not fulfilled.”
The former U17 Assistant Coach continued: “The second joy I had again (though it is not yet complete), I will never forget, was after 32 years, he (President Buhari) still remembered to call every one of us, wherever we were, the President called us back home to fulfill his promise.
His Excellency, President Buhari came to the podium and announced N20 million for each of us, knowing that 35 years was a long time. School fees that were supposed to have been paid, some of those guys would have been degree holders today, minimum Bsc, or even doctorate degrees, but today they are not.
To our greatest surprise, the moment the president announced it, we knew we were worth that much. With N20m, we would be able to build a bungalow or two at about N5m each in our various states and we would live well. We were also expecting national awards, at least MON, because a group got MON after winning the U17 tournament. How come that the winners of the inaugural edition, a victory that has given us recognition anywhere I go all over the world, but not at home?
Immediately we finished, the then minister, Solomon Dalung now stepped on the podium and said that the President made a mistake, a slip of tongue. That the amount was N2m. Two million Naira for 32 years? Fatai Atere used about $6,000 to buy a flight ticket to come for the event, as it was a sudden invitation.”