Nigeria’s minister of works, power and housing, Barrister Raji Babatunde Fashola has apologised to former Super Eagles coach, Johannes Bonfrere over a 24-year delay by the federal government in keeping a promise to present a house to the Dutch gaffer.
Fashola, who is an avowed football lover, former past-time player and member of Lagos All Stars team, said during a ceremony to finally formally present Bonfrere with keys to the house, that the Atlanta ’96 Olympics-winning coach deserves to be honoured.
The former governor of Lagos State further affirmed that Tuesday’s event in Abuja is another attestation that the current administration of President Muhammadu Buhari is determined to reward any achiever for the country, no matter how long it takes.
The 71-year-old Bonfrere, thus, became proud owner of a three-bedroom apartment in Gwagwalada area of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), several years after being part of the coaching that won gold for Nigeria at Tunisia 1994 Africa Cup of Nations.
Fashola said redeeming the pledge was a sign of government’s commitment to integrity, adding: “Let me on behalf of the President apologise to you that it has taken so long for the Nigerian government to come through.
“We thank you for your contribution to the development of our country, our youth, football and to say that it is better late than never. Nigeria always comes through, we have come through for you.
“It is proper that with just few days to another World Cup, Nigeria fulfils and redeems this pledge and I hope that this will serve as an inspiration to our players going to the World Cup and the officials that this government will be there for you all the way.
“Ordinarily, this ought to be a short meeting but if it takes’ 24 years for the government of the country to respond to its citizens, it must assume a news-making event.
“This is consistent with the commitment that the President has made that once again, he will make Nigerians proud of their country.
“This country should always be there to respond to the needs and expectations of the citizens.”
In his response, Bonfrere thanked the federal government and expressed his best wishes for the Super Eagles at this year’s FIFA World Cup.
Bonfrere also stated that the Nigerian government’s gesture would encourage sportsmen and women to work hard, knowing that their achievements would not go unrecognised.
“As a coach that was directly involved in the 1994 Africa Cup of Nations and the 1996 Olympic football gold medal victories, I crave for an impressive performance for our Super Eagles in Russia and offer my support to the team and technical staff,” Bonfere said.