Nigerians Gather for an Event to Honor the Nation’s Top Athletes

By Timothy Choji

President Muhammadu Buhari has urged citizens of the country to reflect the spirit of change in all that they do.

He made the call in his remarks at a Presidential reception for outstanding athletes, on Thurday, that won laurels for the country in various sports competitions.

President Buhari, who commended the athletes, noted that with hardwork and dedication, athletes would continue to make the country proud.

The President, who was all smiles and full of praises for the outstanding athletes and officials, said government will not relent in its effort of ensuring that Nigeria continues to excel in international competitions.

“I wish to assure you that the Federal Government of Nigeria would not relent in its efforts to ensure that our sportsmen and women continue to excel in international competitions. I am particularly concerned about our participation at the forthcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Games. We must not allow a repetition of the unsavory experience at the London 2012 Olympics where Nigerian athletes failed to make it to the podium,” President Buhari stated.

He said the athletes have proved to the world that the Nigerian spirit was indomitable.

“Nigerian athletes, despite prevailing challenges, have always proven to the  rest of the world that the Nigerian spirit is indomitable. On behalf of all Nigerians, I wish to specially express my appreciation and indeed that of the nation to our athletes and officials for the consistency, determination, willpower and penchant for success being witnessed in the sports sector in recent times. I urge the managers of this sector to keep up the momentum,” he said.

President Buhari, said those who will represent the country in the forth-coming Rio Olympics must excel. He said the current administration’s policy of change must reflect in that Nigerians do.

“This Administration’s policy of “change” must reflect in the way we do things either as individuals or institutions. We must strive to be prudent in the way we manage our time, financial and material resources to ensure victory at the next Olympics. We must aim for optimal performance at all international competitions,” he said.

President Buhari thanked God for the opportunity to personally honor the Golden Eaglets of 1985, who won the then FIFA U16 World Cup.

Earlier, Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung commended President Buhari for the support he had so far given the sports sector.

He said the recognition accorded the athletes further spelled his determination to encourage optimum performance by athletes.

A minute silence was observed in honor of late Kingsley Aikiobare, who was a member of the 1985 Golden Eaglets.

Various cash rewards were given to the athletes, with the 1985 Eaglets getting the highest reward of two million naira each, while the current champions, got 1.2 million naira each.

Timothy Choji is a journalist for VON, Voices of Nigeria.