President Muhammadu Buhari in a group photo with Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Minister of Sports and Youth Development Solomon Dalung, President of Nigerian Olympic Committee Habu Gumel and some national athletes during the formal handing over of the RIO 2016 Olympic Games-bound delegation and the Investiture of Buhari as the Grand Patron of the Nigeria Olympic Committee at the State House in Abuja…yesterday GODWIN OMOIGUI
*Pledges Early Release of Funds for Rio Olympics
Tobi Soniyi in Abuja
President Muhammadu Buhari yesterday in Abuja said budget for the 2016 Rio Olympics would be released on time.
The 2016 Olympic Games, commencing from 5th to 21st August this year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The president who spoke at the official handover of Team Nigeria to the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) and his investiture as the Grand Patron of the body, however called for a judicious use of the funds giving the parlous state of the nation’s economy.
He said “Let me equally assure you that the Federal Government is fully committed to our delegation’s successful participation in the Rio Olympic Games and will ensure that funds budgeted for the Games are released without further delay.
“We are all aware of our nation’s dwindling revenue and the current global economic challenges. It is therefore imperative that funds provided for the games are utilised judiciously.
“In this regard, any official who has no business at the games should stay at home to cheer the team from here and if they must travel to the Olympics, they should do so at their own expense.”
He continued “Nigeria has 49 qualified male athletes and 29 female athletes, giving us a total of 78 athletes in 10 sport disciplines.
“It is therefore the honour of the Federal Government to officially unveil the qualified athletes of Team Nigeria to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
“Aside the sports that we have qualified for the Olympic Games, I have equally been informed that our athletes have qualified athletes for the Paralympic Games, which comes up immediately after the Olympic Games in Brazil.
“I therefore want to use this opportunity to personally congratulate all these worthy athletes on their qualifications for these Games, even in the face of daunting challenges in their preparations.”
He charged the athletes and their accompanying officials to be worthy ambassadors of the country, both on the field of play and outside the sporting arena.
He said “The eyes of the global community are on you and as such, you should desist from acts that could dent the image of our great country, Nigeria.
“You are very aware of recent doping allegations which cast aspersions not only on the individual athletes but on their home countries. Please keep Nigeria clean.
“The menace of drug use in sports is threatening the core foundation of sports and has led to embarrassing situations as well as sanctions of some great sporting nations. I therefore urge you to keep the integrity of our nation intact by competing clean and fair at the Olympic Games.
“Please bring as many medals back home as a result of your efforts and endeavour. But remember it is more important to compete and acquit your country as a fair sporting nation than to bring a pack of medals as a result of bending the rules and denying the Games of fair competition
“Finally, let me assure you of the support of over 170 million sports-loving Nigerians who are solidly behind you as you depart to bring glory to our fatherland in Rio.”
Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, said that the president had consistently supported the ministry in spite of the cash crunch facing the country.
NOC President, Habu Gumel, assured Buhari that the team would be of good behaviour and put up good appearances at the Olympics.