President Muhammad Buhari has charged Team Nigeria to strive to top the medals table at the end of 12th All African Games in Rabat, Morocco.
President Buhari gave the charge yesterday in Abuja at the handing over of athletes to the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) and farewell ceremony for Team Nigeria to the Games.
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 the country while in Morocco adding that the country’s image and integrity must be protected.
Nigeria’s number one citizen, however, stressed on the need for the athletes to compete fairly and without any form of doping infractions at the Games, he also opined that they athletes will be handsomely rewarded when they do the nation proud.
“Let me assure you that the Federal Government is fully committed to our successful participation in the African games and will ensure that the welfare of the team is adequately taken care of,” he said.
“I want to charge all athletes and team officials going to the Games to be worthy ambassadors of our great country, both on the field of play and outside the sports arena as the Federal Government to ensure adequate preparation and welfare for the athletes and officials.”
“I, therefore, urge you to keep the integrity of our nation intact by competing for clean and fair, devoid of any form of doping at the African games,” he added.
On his part, the President Nigeria Olympic Committee, (NOC) Habu Gummel, said that the event marked the climax of the intensive preparations of the athletes ahead of the Games, and urged the athletes to take the Games seriously as it would serve as qualifiers for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
He further assured the Federal Government that the contingent would do the nation proud as the giant of Africa.
“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,” he said.
”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 the inception of the Games in 1967. With this in view, the 2019 edition will not be an exception.”
In his remark, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Sports Development Olusade Adesola urged the 462 athletes and officials for the Games to exhibit high level discipline and dedication at the Games.
“We have with us a 462 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.”
The high point of the event was the symbolic handing over of the Nigerian flag by Mustapha to Gummel and the farewell for the athletes.
The bulk of the Nigerian contingent is expected to depart Nigeria for the Games today via a chartered flight.
The 12th African Games will hold in Rabat, Morocco from August 19th to August 31st
Team Nigeria finished second in the last edition of the Games in Congo Brazzaville in 2015.