Buhari Commends Paralympians for Making Nigeria Proud in Rio

0
  • Afe Babalola donates N10m to Nigeria Olympic Fund ahead Tokyo Olympics

Tobi Soniyi in Abuja and Olakiitan Victor in Ado Ekiti

President Muhammadu Buhari has congratulated Team Nigeria for an outstanding performance at the just ended Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil.

The president, in a statement by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Mr Garba Shehu, joined all sports-loving Nigerians in commending the athletes for doing the country proud by winning 12 medals and setting new records, which made them the top-performing African team at the 2016 games.

The president extolled the resilient spirit of the Nigerian paralympic athletes, who were able to excel in the face of adversity.

Buhari applauded the athletes for their tenacity, focus and determination, which has brought glory to the country.

The president also extended gratitude to all the officials and trainers of the paralympic athletes, who made sacrifices and persevered to fly the country’s colours.

Earlier on Sunday, the first batch of the Paralympic athletes from Brazil were given heroes’ welcome on arrival at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, with scores of well-wishers and family members singing and dancing to hail their feats.

Meanwhile, founder of Afe Babalola University, Ado Ekiti (ABUAD), Aare Afe Babalola, has donated N10million in support of the Nigeria Olympics Fund initiated by ex-Nigerian ace sprinter, Mary Onyali-Omagbemi in conjunction with other ex-internationals to boost athletes’ performances in sports.

Babalola said the dismal performance of Team Nigeria at the Rio Olympics and the dwindling fortunes of sports in the country are wakeup call on the citizenry to rise up to the rescue of the sector.

Babalola called on all tiers of government and public-spirited individuals “to make it a point of duty to contribute to the funding of sports to improve our standing in continental and world tournaments”.

The ABUAD founder spoke in Ado Ekiti yesterday shortly after he endorsed the Nigeria Olympic Fund (NOF), an initiative of former Nigerian internationals.

The NOF is meant to raise funds to support Nigeria team to future Olympics in a bid to end a repeat of the frustrations of poor performance like it was witnessed again at the just-concluded games in Rio, Brazil.
Babalola said : “We will deliberately turn around our fortunes right in sports and indeed other areas of human endeavour. I must point out that government cannot do it alone. There is need for private participation”.

The ABUAD founder lauded NOF Executive Director (Technical), Onyali, for the initiative, saying this will go a long way in promoting sporting activities in Nigeria.
Onyali, in an address at the event, praised Babalola for his support to sports development, which she said was the reason former Nigerian internationals overwhelmingly voted the ABUAD founder as the Chairman of the Governing Board of the Basic Olympic Opportunity Sports Training (BOOST).
According to her, whatever monies they (celebrities) give us, we shall take 10 per cent into the National Athlete Welfare Fund to care for aging former sportsmen and women. Thirty per cent goes into NOC Solidarity Fund which sports federations will be able to access based on performance. Fifty per cent goes into the BOOST project. The balance of 10 per cent shall go
into our operational account to drive this advocacy project,” she said.

According to her, Ekiti State will from January next year enjoy the pilot scheme of the project with six schools in the state selected and the Elite Athletes programme for Tokyo 2020 will begin in ABUAD.

“From 2018, there will be youth leagues where these kids will compete at state, zonal and national levels. A new generation of stars will be born, professionally supported and managed to stardom. Our nation will never be the same. Over 27,000 professionals will be expected to work with us on this project to maturity,” Onyali said.