Tuesday, July 19, 2016 11:09 pm
President Muhammadu Buhari has ordered the immediate release of funds budgeted for Nigeria’s successful participation in the Rio Olympics in Brazil.
President Buhari gave the order at the official handover of Team Nigeria to the Nigerian Olympic Committee (NOC) at the State House, Abuja on Tuesday.
He said that the order became imperative given the Federal Government’s commitment to Nigeria’s successful outing in Brazil.
The President, however, warned the athletes against any act capable of tarnishing the country’s image and charged them to be worthy ambassadors of Nigeria.
“Let me equally assure you that the Federal Government is fully committed to our delegation’s successful participation in the Rio Olympic Games and will ensure that funds budgeted for the Games are released without further delay.
“We are all aware of our nation’s dwindling revenue and the current global economic challenges.
“It is therefore imperative that funds provided for the Games are utilized judiciously.
“In this regard, any official who has no business at the Games should stay at home to cheer the team from here and if they must travel to the Olympics, they should do so at their own expense.
“As the Federal Government formally hands over our athletes and officials for the Rio Olympics to the Nigeria Olympic Committee today, I want to charge all athletes and team officials going to the Olympic Games to be worthy ambassadors of our great country, both on 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.’’
Buhari observed that apart from qualifying for the Olympic Games, Nigerian athletes also qualified for the Paralympic Games.
The Paralympic Games comes up immediately after the Olympic Games.
He congratulated all the athletes on their qualifications for these Games “even in the face of daunting challenges in their preparations’’.
Buhari advised the athletes to steer clear of drugs to avoid embarrassing the country.
“You are very aware of recent doping allegations, which cast aspersions not only on the individual athletes, but on their home countries.
“Please keep Nigeria clean.
“The menace of drug use in sports is threatening the core foundation of sports and has led to embarrassing situations as well as sanction of some great sporting nations.
“I, therefore, urge you to keep the integrity of our nation intact by competing clean and fair at the Olympic Games.’’
He also urged the athletes to win for the country as many medals as they could.
“But remember, it is more important to compete and acquit your country as a fair sporting nation than to bring a pack of medals as a result of bending the rules and denying the Games of fair competition.’’
The President assured them of the support of more than 170 million sports-loving Nigerians whom he said were solidly behind them.
“Therefore, Go for Gold in Rio! Go Team Nigeria! Go!’’
In his remarks, the Minister of Sports, Mr Solomon Dalong, assured the Buhari and Nigerians of the athletes resolve to win trophies for the country without cutting corners.
According to him, 86 athletes will be participating in nine games at the Olympics.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the President of NOC, Malam Habu Gumel, inaugurated Buhari as the Grand Patron of the Olympic Committee. (NAN)