President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday acknowledged that “majority of Nigerians are married to football”, to the extent of “renting small generators, popularly known as ‘I better-pass-my neighbour’” when matches fall into periods of power outage.
He therefore challenged football administrators to fashion out strategic programmes to develop the game.
Buhari was speaking when he hosted Gianni Infantino, FIFA president, and Fatma Samoura, FIFA secretary-general.
“Majority of Nigerians are married to football,” he said.
“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 ‘I better-pass-my neighbour’ to watch the game.”
He reiterated that his government would pay keen interest to accountability and transparency to fast-track football development in the country.
“Accountability is serious business and I welcome you (Infantino) into the club of accountable chief executive officers,” he said.
Congratulating the duo on their election, particularly Samuora, the first African and female to be elected FIFA secretary-general, he welcomed Infantino’s programme to reform the world game through transparency, anti-corruption and good governance.
Buhari pledged Nigeria’s support to FIFA president’s reform agenda, noting that they are similar to those his presidency had outlined to resuscitate Nigeria.
“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,” he added.
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.
“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,” he said.
The FIFA officials were accompanied by Solomon Dalung, minister of youth and sports; Amaju Pinnick, NFF president; and Habu Gumel, president of Nigeria Olympic Committee.