MITCHELL OBI / AIPS in ABUJA: A grateful nation is showering gifts in cash and kind to the new champions of African football, the Super Eagles of Nigeria.

Even before the winners of Sunday’s final in Johannesburg touched down in Nigeria’s capital of Abuja they were already basking in the glow of a million-dollar cash splash from the chairman and owner of one of Africa’s rising telecommunication companies, Mike Adenuga.

In a breakfast meeting with the team a day after the victory over Burkina Faso Adenuga – a Nigerian chief with varied interest in banking, oil and gas as well telecom outfit Globacom – led the challenge to support and sponsor preparations for the Confederations Cup in Brazil in June.

Like most Nigerians, passionate about football, Adenuga was not only lavish in praise for the Green Eagles’ third continental title but also generous in giving coach Stephen Okechukwu a car which he doubled on delivery Tuesday night – both a Range Rover sports model and a Camry Toyota sedan.

Keshi is still in the job after withdrawing a resignation he submitted hours after Sunday’s victory in protest at wrangles with the football federation.

The former Nigeria captain had equalled Egyptian Mahmoud El-Gohary’s feat of winning the Nations Cup as both player and coach. He paid tribute to the efforts of Sports Minister Bolaji Abdullahi for his about-turn.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan opened the rewards gate for a squad missing only rightback Ambrose Efe who had flown back to Scotland to play for Celtic in the Champions League against Juventus.

Plots of land

Even so Efe will share in the presidential largesse of a plot of land in Abuja for each member of team. He and his colleagues will also take home a $31,000 bonus as well as admission as a Member of the Order Of Niger.

Keshi has been honoured as a Commander of the Order of Niger and the highest cash gift of $63,000 as well as an additional 200 000 personal donation from Adenuga.

The honours list included Keshi’s assistants Sylvanus Okpalla, Daniel Amokachi – both winners of the Nations Cup in 1980 and 1994 respectively – and Ike Shoroumou. All were decorated with the Officer of the Federal Republic.

Aliko Danote, Africa’s richest man according to Forbes, has joined the cash spree with a donation close to a million US dollars.

Dangote,a soccer enthusiast was once given the opportunity to lead the Nigeria Football Federation but declined. Many more local tycoons are expected to join the Dangote bandwagon in appreciation of a team who next face Kenya in the World Cup qualifiers next month.

Keshi has been given a presidential confirmation of “full support” to continue with his successful mix of home-grown talent and experienced foreign-based stars.

When it comes to using football as a vehicle for lifting the morale of an embattled populace, no-one does it better than African political leaders.

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