If the mega-size team had any chance escaping public attention, a similar presidential delegation announced by United States President Barack Obama, sealed it.
Mr. Jonathan’s team comprises governors, ministers, federal lawmakers and diplomats- totalling more than a dozen; while Mr. Obama’s has an advisor, a diplomat and two former athletes only.
The Nigerian team, led by the Senate President, David Mark, includes the Governor of Cross River State, Liyel Imoke; Governor of Katsina State, Ibrahim Shema; the Minister of the Federal Capital Territory, Bala Mohammed; the Minister of Education, Nyesome Wike.
Others are the Minister of Culture and Tourism, Edem Duke; the Minister of Youth Development, Boni Haruna; the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Viola Onwuleri; the Chairman, Senate Committee on Sports, Adamu Gumba; the Chairman House Committee on Sports, Godfrey Ali Gaiya.
An advance team was led by the Minister of Sports, Tamuno Danagogo.
The delegation arrived at the Guarulhos International Airport, Sao Paulo, Brazil, at about 5 p.m. local time Wednesday.
The team’s official mission, a statement by the sports ministry said, was to convey “a presidential message” to the Super Eagles in Campinas Thursday morning ahead of Nigeria’s first group match against Iran, on June 16, in Curtiba.
In contrast, Mr. Obama’s four-person team, announced June 6, has Liliana Ayalde, United States Ambassador to Brazil; Michelle Akers, retired member of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team; and Gabrielle Reece, former Beach Volleyball World Champion.
The team was led by Daniel Pfeiffer, Senior Advisor to the President.
It is not clear yet how much the Nigerian government has budgeted for the World Cup. Details of that spending are curiously missing from the 2014 budget of the Nigerian Football Federation.
Nigeria spent N900 million for the South Africa 2010 World Cup, and N2.2 billion for the 2012 London Olympics.
The president’s official team is exclusive of lawmakers and several other government officials who also travelled to Brazil, still on government cost.
For the London Olympics for instance, five Senators and five House of Representatives members made the official sports ministry team.
The officials received far more money than the athletes at the London Olympics, according to details seen by PREMIUM TIMES.