President Muhammadu Buhari on Monday in Abuja said his administration would pay keen interest to accountability and transparency to fast-track football development in the country.
The president stated this when he received Federation of International Football Association (FIFA) President, Gianni Infantino, and the Secretary-General, Fatma Samuora, at State House.
Buhari challenged football administrators to fashion out strategic programmes to develop the game.
While 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 football through transparency, anti-corruption and good governance.
He pledged Nigeria’s support to FIFA president’s reform agenda, noting that they were similar to those his presidency had outlined to resuscitate Nigeria.
‘‘Majority of Nigerians are married to football.
“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.
‘‘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 said.
‘‘Accountability is serious business and I welcome you (Infantino) into the club of accountable Chief Executive Officers,’’ the President added.
Earlier, Infantino had 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 the Minister of Youths and Sports, Mr Solomon Dalung, NFF President, Amaju Pinnick and President, Nigeria Olympic Committee, Habu Gumel.