The president asked the Ministries of Sports and Finance to do everything possible to support sports.
President Goodluck Jonathan has asked sports administrators in the country to ensure Nigeria has a good outing and win gold medals at the 2016 Olympics to be held in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.
Mr. Jonathan stated this Wednesday at the Presidential Villa, Abuja, while receiving Africa’s record holder in 100m, Blessing Okagbare, who was at the villa to present the medals she won at the 2013 IAAF World Athletic Championship which held in Moscow recently.
The president said Nigeria’s performance at past Olympic Games was poor and could no longer be tolerated. He therefore, directed the Ministries of Sports and Finance to do everything possible to support the sector.
“We have challenged the Ministry of Sports and of course, the Finance Ministry to do all it can to make sure that we support that sector so that our young men and women will do our country proud. So, Blessing, we congratulate you. We thank you for this uncommon success and the uncommon dedication to your fatherland,” Mr. Jonathan said.
The President announced cash rewards of N3 million for Okagbare, who won medals in long jump event and 200 meters race in Moscow, and N3.5 million to her coach, Daniel Esebinimo.
He added that both of them would be considered for national honours during the next award ceremony.
The Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdullahi, in his speech stated that Nigeria had recorded successes in sports in the last two years because of the transformative and unprecedented leadership and support of President Jonathan.
“Nigeria is again becoming a force to reckon with in sports. In athletics, just like in football and weightlifting, we have become the number one nation in Africa. Never in the history of Africa athletics has a nation been a winner of the senior, junior and youth championship at the same time.
Nigeria has won the whole three in the last two years. Firstly, we won the senior athletics championship in Port Novo, followed by the youth championship which we won in Warri, Delta State, and just recently we won the junior championship in Mauritius,” Mr. Abdullahi said.
Speaking further, the Sports Minister said, “Miss Blessing Okagbare’s effort in the long jump and the 200 metres at the recent IAAF World championship in Moscow ensured that we broke the 14-year jinx of failure to mount the podium at the world championship. The last time we won any medals at the championship was in 1999 when Gloria Alozie and Francis Obikwelu won the silver medal in the 100 meters hurdles and a bronze medal in the 200 meters, respectively.”
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