By Amaechi Agbo
President Mohammadu Buhari has charged Team Nigeria to the 12th edition of Africa Games holding in Rabat Morocco, to go for gold.
Nigeria’s number one citizen made the charge during a handover/farewell ceremony of Team Nigeria contingent to the Africa Games in Abuja Wednesday.
President Buhari who was represented by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, SGF, Boss Mustapha, advised the athletes to be good ambassadors of Nigeria while in Morocco adding that the country’s image and integrity must be protect.
Buhari while admonishing the athletes to compete clean and fair by avoiding the use of performance enhancing drugs, promised the Team Nigeria that their welfare is top priority of the government stressing that they athletes will be handsomely rewarded when the do the country proud.
“Today, I am highly delighted to receive the Crème de la crème of sporting talents and their team officials that are set to do our country proud at the 12 Africa Games which will commence from August 16, to the 31st, 2019 in Morocco. I have been reliably informed that team sports have qualified for the games as well as our individual sports.
“Therefore I have the honour of the Federal Government to officially unveil the qualified athletes of team Nigeria to the 12 Africa Games as follows: we have a total of 17 individual sports from athletics, badminton, boxing, canoe kayak, gymnastic, chess, cycling, judo, karate, rowing, shooting, swimming, table tennis, taekwondo, tennis, weightlifting and wrestling. Team sports include basketball, beach volleyball, football, handball, volleyball and volleyball indoor.
“One of the intricacies of this from the statistics I have before me, is that there are 154 male athletes and 154 female athletes, making a total of 308. That shows that we are being inclusive even in our sporting preparations and selections. I want to commend the management of our sports from the ministry and the federations for ensuring inclusivity in the preparations to the Africa Games in Morocco.
“The above figure shows that our country has a total of 308 athletes to participate in 22 sports. These athletes and their technical support staff who have been in training camps in six locations – Port Harcourt, Kaduna, Bayelsa, Gombe, Abuja and Lagos – have done quite well and are ready for the games.
“I therefore want to use this opportunity to personally congratulate all our worthy athletes on their level of discipline during the training towards the games even in the face of daunting challenges in their preparations.
“Let me equally assure you that the federal government is fully committed to the delegation’s successful participation in the Africa Games and will ensure that the welfare of the team is adequately taken care of.
“As the federal government formerly hands over our athletes and officials for the 12 Africa Games to the Nigeria Olympic Committee, NOC, today, (yesterday), I want to charge all athletes and team officials going to the games to be worthy ambassadors of our great country both in the field of play and outside the sporting arena. 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.
“As you all know, the menace of drug use, doping, in sports is threatening the core foundation of sports and have 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 Africa Games.
“Finally, let me assure you of the support of over 180 million sport-loving, Nigerians, who are solidly behind you as you depart to bring glory to our fatherland in faraway Morocco. Therefore, go for gold in Morocco! I say Team Nigeria go and win laurels for Nigeria!
“I wish all of you individually and collectively the best of luck and Nigeria will await your arrival as you do us proud in the country of Morocco and this nation will remain eternally grateful to you for being true ambassadors of our country. Win and win clean and you will be rewarded adequately,” the SGF said.
Also speaking after the official handover, the President, Nigeria Olympic Committee, NOC, Habu Gumel reminded the federal government that the contingent is not just going to Morocco to compete for the medals but also to compete for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualifiers. And expressed optimism that the athletes will perform to their best to do the nation proud.
“This is the first time in history that the Africa Games will act as Olympic qualification event in 17 sports for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic.
“We have with us a 500 strong contingent of elite athletes and team officials, drawn from 22 sporting disciples that have been trained and ready to do our dear country proud at the continental sporting fiesta. These are the cream of Nigeria sporting talents based at home and abroad.
”There is no doubt that Nigerian athletes have always proved their worth by posing brilliant performances at previous Games, having garnered a whopping total of 448 gold, 417 silver and 389 bronze medals since inception of the Games in 1967. With this in view, the 2019 edition will not be an exception.”
Highlight of the ceremony was the handover of the Team Nigeria for 2019 Africa Games flag by the Permanent Secretary of, Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Olusade Adesola to the SGF who in turn handed it over to the President of Nigeria Olympic Committee.