Omololu Ogunmade in Abuja and Kayode Fasua in Abeokuta
President Muhammadu Buhari and Ogun State Governor, Prince Dapo Abiodun, yesterday celebrated the victory of Nigerian-born British renowned boxer, Anthony Joshua, for successfully defending his World Boxing titles against his Bulgarian opponent, Kubrat Pulev, in London on Saturday.
Buhari, according to his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Mr. Femi Adesina, said by retaining his IBF, WBA, and WBO titles, Joshua has given boxing lovers across the globe, and particularly in Nigeria, something to cheer.
Buhari recalled his meeting with the heavyweight champion in London earlier this year, describing him as a humble, well brought-up young man “who will still go places.”
He wished Joshua all the best in his dream fight against Tyson Fury, assuring him of the prayers and goodwill of Nigerians towards the forthcoming battle.
Abiodun felicitated with Joshua for displaying “Ogun standard of excellence.”
Abiodun said the Ogun State-born Joshua made Nigerians proud and restored confidence that in spite of the country’s challenges, the nation will overcome.
“I congratulate Anthony on this successful outing. May he continue with the winning streak ad infinitum.
“My joy is unquantifiable. Our government has always dimensioned sport as not only a unifying factor but a socio-economic imperative,” the governor added in a statement by his Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Kunle Somorin.
Abiodun, however, attributed Joshua’s victory to the manifestation of God’s love for the people of the state, who prayed ceaselessly for AJ and organised rallies and viewing centres to watch the fight live across all the three senatorial districts of the state.
Abiodun said: “God still answers prayers. We return all glory to God Almighty for granting our hearts’ desire for our brother, Anthony Joshua, to retain the IBF, WBA and WBO titles.
“All of us in the state, irrespective of our religious affiliations, prayed for his success. That the feat happened in London, last night can be regarded as a worthy Christmas gift from God and AJ, to all of us in Ogun State. God answered us.”
Abiodun also lauded Joshua for his determination, hard work, resilience and focus, which he described as virtues engrained in the DNA of Ogun people.
“He has made us proud by exhibiting these traits and the can-do spirit of Ogun people,” Abiodun said, adding that the victory would inspire other sport men and women to do more.
“On our part, we would provide the necessary incentives to all our ambitious young men and women to become world champions in all considerable areas of sports, not only in boxing.
“We are poised to fix our stadia, upgrade facilities, train sportsmen and women, motivate coaches and develop talents starting from the grassroots,” the governor stated.
He called on all stakeholders to be concerned about hunting for and developing talents because of sport potential “to pull more people out of poverty and tame insecurity, social strife and crimes.”