Speech by His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari President, Federal Republic Of Nigeria on the Occasion of the Reception for Nigerian Athletes and Officials Who Did the Nation Proud at International Competitions, Banquet Hall, Presidential Villa, Abuja, January 21, 2016.
It gladdens my heart to play host to our dear athletes and officials who have consistently done the nation proud at various international competitions.
2. Nigerian athletes, despite prevailing challenges, have always proven to the rest of the world that the Nigerian spirit is indomitable.
3. On behalf of all Nigerians, I wish to specially express my appreciation and indeed that of the nation to our athletes and officials for the consistency, determination, willpower and penchant for success being witnessed in the sports sector in recent times. I urge the managers of this sector to keep up the momentum.
4. I wish to assure you that the Federal Government of Nigeria would not relent in its efforts to ensure that our sportsmen and women continue to excel in international competitions. I am particularly concerned about our participation at the forthcoming Rio 2016 Olympic Games. We must not allow a repetition of the unsavoury experience at the London 2012 Olympics where Nigerian athletes failed to make it to the podium.
5. This Administration’s policy of “change” must reflect in the way we do things either as individuals or institutions. We must strive to be prudent in the way we manage our time, financial and material resources to ensure victory at the next Olympics. We must aim for optimal performance at all international competitions.
6. Your Excellencies, Great Nigerian Athletes, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, I wish to remark that today’s event is very special to me because, Almighty Allah has, in His infinite mercies and love, kept me alive to this day and granted me the privilege of being able to fulfill my promise in 1985, to reward the winners of the maiden edition of the FIFA Under-17 World Championship.
7. The reason for the 30 years delay is well known. It is however sad to note that a member of the 1985 Golden Eaglets is not here with us today. Please join me in observing a one-minute silence in honour of Kingsley Aikhionbare who died in London, in 1996.
8. It is a well-known fact that so much water has passed under the bridge between 1985 and now. The State governments that were to implement most of the pledges to the players and officials have changed hands so many times under different dispensations and political parties.
9. In line with our belief that the “labour of our heroes past shall never be in vain” we will be saying thank you to our 1985 Golden Eaglets’ players and officials by using the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports template for rewarding outstanding athletes.
10. As you are all aware, the financial resources of our nation have been dwindling since last year. Hence, what we are offering you today is not payment or compensation for winning laurels for your country, rather, it is a token of appreciation for your efforts and patriotism while competing for your fatherland.
11. In this connection, I have the honour, on behalf of the Government and sports loving Nigerians to announce the following as token of our appreciation to our sports ambassadors:
Late Aikhionbare’s Next of Kin should collect his money on behalf of his family.
Thank you all and God Bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
President, Federal Republic of Nigeria