Executive Governor of Nasarawa State, Engr. Abdullahi Sule, on Wednesday, announced an undisclosed amount of money for Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON, Silver-winning Goalkeeper Coach of Nigeria’s Super Eagles, Olatunji Baruwa.

At a brief reception held at the Government House in Lafia, the Governor said he was overjoyed to learn that Osun State-born Baruwa is equally the goalkeeper trainer at the Nasarawa State-owned men’s football club, Nasarawa United.

According to him, “Recently, the Vice President of Nigeria, His Excellency, Kashim Shettima, requested me to go with him to the final of the Africa Cup of Nations match between Nigeria and host nation, Ivory Coast, with the hope of bringing the Cup home.

“Then during the half-time of the game, we were at the dressing room of the players to address them, then this gentleman(Baruwa) told me that he is from Nasarawa United FC but working with the Super Eagles at AFCON. Instantly, my head got bigger, apparently with joy.

“With due respect, one of the best things that happened to Nigeria at the AFCON in Cote d’Ivoire was actually the goalkeeper who kept us in the game up until the final because he was fantastic throughout the Tournament.

“So, I was so happy to see that it was a Coach from our own club here that’s the Trainer of the Super Eagles’ Goalkeepers.

“I have received reports that so many clubs have started showing interest in him, which is normal when you are doing something well because I am from a background that craves for excellence and rewards it.

“When you are good, people and organizations will always approach you because they want the best.

“However, my prayer is that it will be our Goalkeeper Trainer who will help mould our own Goalkeepers to qualify for the National Teams’ invitations to also show the kind of performance displayed by Stanley Nwabali at the AFCON.

“By then, you would write your names in gold and have a golden handshake with me.

“Importantly, too, I was informed that from the little you got from the National Team as your personal gift, you still shared it among members of Nasarawa United.

“I am very excited to hear this. That’s the kind of spirit I look forward to.

“On this note, what I wanted to give you initially, I will now double it so that you you will have a little bit of recovery from what you have already expended. This is not for the public to know what I am giving you – it’s between you and me, please.

“So, thank you for bringing pride and glory to Nasarawa State and Nigeria as a whole and I wish you all the best in your endeavour.”

The Governor equally extended his financial benevolence to Nasarawa United’s Supporters’ Club, charging them to sustain the tempo.

He noted that it was his earnest desire to see Nasarawa United back to the Premier League in Nigeria, emphasizing that his administration is doing everything humanly possible for the Club to have full ownership of her players in order to properly invest in them.

He congratulated Nasarawa United and the entire staff for their efforts so far in the Nigeria National League, assuring that he would have a more relaxed and rewarding private moment with the team when they are back in the elite league.

Overwhelmed by the gesture, Coach Olatunji Baruwa, appreciated the Governor for honouring him.

“Your Excellency, Sir, I lack what to say because I am already emotional.

“Nasarawa State has been nice to me. After my family, they are the next family I have.

“When I told my wife about the interests from different angles after the AFCON, she said I should remain where I am being loved, that it’s not about money, but about peace.

“I have been with the various National Teams for some time now, but I must confess, Nasarawa State is different. It’s hospitable and the people are nice to me.

“On behalf of my family, I sincerely thank Your Excellency for your generosity, humility, fatherly love and support to me and every member of the team.

“I also thank all those who made it possible for me to be where I am today.

“By the grace of God, we will reward your kindness to us by regaining promotion to the Nigeria Premier League, next season.”

Speaking earlier, Chairman, Nasarawa United FC, Dr. Ibrahim Othman Ahmed, told the Governor that they were at the Government House to congratulate him on his victory at the Supreme Court as the duly elected Governor of Nasarawa State and to formally present Coach Olatunji Baruwa to him following his breathtaking feat with the Super Eagles of Nigeria at the just-concluded AFCON where Nigeria emerged Runners-up.

Other personalities at the ceremony were the Honourable Commissioner for Youth and Sports Development, Hon. Jafaru Ango; Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Chief Barr. Isaac Danladi; Permanent Secretary, Government House Protocols, Ismaila Ali Mohammed; Chairman, Nasarawa State Football Association, Salisu Galadima (a.k.a. Basira), Management Members of Nasarawa United, Backroom Staff as well as players and Nasarawa United’s Supporters’ Club.

Presentation of customised jerseys of the Super Eagles and Nasarawa United FC as well as the AFCON Silver Medal to the Governor formed parts of the highpoints of the event.

Eche Amos (Fellow, CBS),
Media Officer,
Nasarawa United FC.