Nigeria’s First Lady, Aisha Buhari, has drawn attention to the plight of retired para powerlifters and other athletes in Nigeria, many of whom retire into hardship after having served their country superlatively.
She made this call during the opening ceremony of the Abuja 2020 Para Powerlifting World Cup, on Tuesday, February, 4 at the International Conference Center.
A copy of the press statement sent to PREMIUM TIMES on Wednesday is reproduced below:
Mrs Buhari said, “I have since observed the contribution of these athletes in reshaping the image of Nigeria with immense significance and the country owes them a debt of gratitude. She called on the nation to start repaying this debt by ensuring they are well taken care of in their time of need.
“It is in this light, that my foundation, the Aisha Buhari Foundation and other developmental partners will soon unveil a program that will aim to make retired athletes welfare a great priority. I also believe that it was these athletes dedication to hard work and the discipline that won the Country the hosting rights for this competition, being a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games” She said.
Speaking on her involvement, the First Lady said her interest in the wellbeing of the underprivileged led to establishing the Aisha Buhari Foundation and Future Assured and her acceptance to be a grand patron of the event.
She congratulated the organizers of the event and called on Nigerians to support team Nigeria, otherwise known as “the unstoppables”. She also welcomed teams from other countries and encouraged them to enjoy their stay in Nigeria.
Deputy Governor of Enugu State, Hon. Cecelia Ezeilo said she had always been a sports enthusiast and that is why she accepted to be the grand matron of the Para Powerlifting Team and felt a sense of duty to organize a fundraising for the event, which turned out successful. She called on the organizers to ensure the successful conduct of the event.
Hon. Minister of Sports, Mr Sunday Akin Dare said the Para Powerlifting World Cup is significant to Nigeria as it provided the opportunity to implement several related events including a referee training, coaches training, loaders course and anti-doping seminar. He wished the athletes success in the competition. He thanked the first lady for the show of support to the competition, and an extraordinary passion for sports in general.
Hon. Minister of State, FCT, who was represented by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr Chijeaka Ohaa reiterated the commitment of the FCT Administration towards the successful hosting of the world cup as it provides an opportunity to showcase the tourism the potential of the Country.
Others who spoke at the occasion include the President, Nigeria Para Powerlifting Federation, Mrs Queen Uboh Idris, who welcomed members of the International Paralympic Committee and all the countries contingents. She stated that Nigeria was ready for the competition and will not only host but will host well. She also expressed gratitude to the first lady for all the support she has given as grand patron to the competition and as a Mother of the Nation.
Part of the highlights of the event was the presentation of sporting kits to team Nigeria by the Executive Secretary, National Lottery Trust Fund, Dr Bello Maigari.
The opening ceremony was attended by Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Egypt, Italy, Libya, Brazil, Georgia, Kenya, Benin Republic, and Nigeria.
The First Lady was accompanied to the opening ceremony by Wife of the Vice President, Her Excellency, Mrs Dolapo Osinbajo and several wives of the State Governors among others.