The Nigeria Basketball Federation announced on Tuesday that the women’s national team members have acknowledged receiving the Federal Government’s N17.5 million President Muhammadu Buhari paid out through the sports minister, Solomon Dalung last week.
Captain of the D’Tigress, the 2017 African champions, Aisha Mohammed says the gesture by the government to pay them as earlier promised by President Buhari will spur the team to do better in future.
Speaking on her team mates’ behalf after receiving the transaction alert of N1m – which is her own share of the presidential reward – the captain said the move was timely. The ladies are soon heading into the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup.
She said, “I can confirm that we have received our money as promised when we went to present the trophy we won in Mali to Mr President. On behalf of the team, I will like thank His Excellency, President Muhammadu Buhari and the Honourable Minister of Youth and Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung for making this a reality.
“We must also not forget sports loving Nigerians who were supporting us while we were battling to bring glory to our motherland.”
Aisha said the gesture is a bold statement of intent ahead of their preparation for the World Cup.
“We believe that his Excellency will make funds available through the Ministry of Sports for adequate preparation. Like we have continued to maintain, we don’t intend to participate at the 2018 FIBA World Cup just to make up the numbers, we want to show the world that we can compete favourably with the best in the world.”
The Most Valuable Player of the African tournament and Dallas Wings’ player, Evelyn Akhator is also optimistic that the gesture will help in swaying Nigerians making waves in leagues across Europe and America to come back home and represent their fatherland.
The WNBA star who is currently contracted to Dynamo Novosibirsk in the Russian league said the presidential largesse did not just boost the morale of the team, but will also send a message to others that “Nigeria will never ignore any of its own.”
“I know that the NBBF is trying to talk to many Nigerian girls in the WNBA and also top leagues in Europe to beef up the team for the world cup.
“The recent act by the government will in no small way play a role in convincing them to pledge their international future to Nigeria.”
Players were paid N1 million each while the five technical crew members each got 500,0000.