By Amaechi Agbo
Some Team Nigeria athletes at the 2018 Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia, in April who were at the Presidential Villa on Tuesday to honour the reception organized in their honour by the presidency, have expressed their regret for honouring the event.
The athletes expressed their displeasure after the presidential reception at the Aso Villa in Abuja, FCT did not live up to their expectation as they were received by the Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osibanjo could only “give” presidential handshake for their efforts in the 21st Commonwealth Games held last month.
An athlete who spoke on anonymity said it was unfortunate the country can only give Commonwealth Games medalists and contingents handshake after a wonderful performance, adding that with the gesture, the government has demoralised the athletes’ verve.
He berated the government for give the athletes fare that would not cover their long distant journeys.
“How can the Federal Government give us handshake after our outstanding performances at the 2018 Commonwealth Games? In 2014, gold medalists were given 2.5 million naira, silver medalists 1.5 million naira and bronze medalists 1 million naira by the past administration. It’s a big shame”, he said.
“Those who came by road collected 20,000 naira, while athletes who came by air got 60,000 naira. The money is not sufficient at all”
Another athlete said the minister goofed by saying he rewarded the Team in Gold Coast.
“The minister misled the Vice President, Yemi Osibanjo, by saying he rewarded us. The 5,000 dollars, 3,000 dollars and 2,000 dollars given to us was for winning medals. The government ought to host us as good ambassadors of our great nation,” she said.
“I want to commend those who absconded from the camp after the Commonwealth Games. I’m sure they’ll be happy wherever they may be. I regret ever returning to Nigeria after the games,” she added.
She asked, “Foreign athletes that either participated or stayed were given 8,000 dollars, are they more superior to the home-based athletes?”
Meanwhile, the President of Nigeria Wrestling Federation, Daniel Igali expressed displeasure over the “presidential handshake award” given to the athletes.
Igali who expressed his feelings in a Twitter post said, “Except there is a secret plan, the much vaunted presidential reception turned out to be a mere handshake”.
Last April, Bayelsa state governor, Seriake Dickson, rewarded the Nigeria Wrestling Federation Team with the sum of N13.9 million naira for their outstanding performance at the just concluded Commonwealth Games in Gold Coast, Australia.
It will be recalled that Nigeria placed 9th on the medals table at the 2018 Commonwealth Games with 9 gold, 9 silver and 6 bronze.