Ndifreke Jacob, Uyo.
The Nigerian government has conferred on Tobi Amusan, Ese Brume and 15 other Nigerian athletes, National honour of Officer of the Order of the Niger (OON).
The national honour was conferred on the recipients, Thursday in Abuja by President Muhammadu Buhari.
The national honour comes following the landmark achievement of Team Nigeria at the 2022 Commonwealth Games and World Athletics Championship in Oregon, USA.
Apart from the national honour conferred on Amusan and other recipients, President Buhari also gave 200 million naira to Team Nigeria contingents to the 2022 Commonwealth Games and World Athletics Championship.
The beneficiaries are: Tobiloba Amusan, Ese Brume, Blessing Oborodudu, Oluwafemiayo Folashade, Taiwo Liadi, Ikechukwu Obichukwu, Bose Omolayo, Favour Ofili, Nasiru Sule, Ifechukwude Ikpeoyi, Ebikewenimo Welson, Hannah Reuben and Elizabeth Oshoba.
Speaking at the reception, President Buhari commended the team for the noble feat recorded, maintaining that the achievements brought glory and honour to the country.
He said, “I watched with millions of Nigerians those exciting moments when you all brought smiles to us and our homes by breaking world, national and games records, as well as achieving personal best in your careers.
Your outstanding performances in recent times are consistent with the determination of a nation always yearning for excellent performance.
”You all, members of Team Nigeria have ignited the spirit for victory in our nation but even more you have been victorious in major sporting championships and games.
I have followed keenly your achievements at the World Championships in Oregon USA and indeed your remarkable performance at the recently concluded Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, United Kingdom.
”And I am very pleased that you displayed at both the personal and group levels great sporting talents and delivered for your country great podium performances, he added.”
While commending the team for holding high the Nigerian flag and placing the country on global sporting table, assured that his administration will continue to support the sport sector and athletes in the country.
Also congratulating them, he noted that “twelve times the world stood still as our green, white green national flag was hoisted and the National Anthem recited. Thirty-five times we made it to the podium. You all Team Nigeria made that possible.
”You brought glory and honour to our country. And today, on behalf of the nation- I say, THANK YOU, he added.”
Similarly, the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare while briefing the president on the strides accorded by the Ministry, described 2022 as a glorious year in Nigerian sporting history.
Dare noted in detail that in the track and field, Amusan recorded and won Nigeria’s first ever gold medal in World Athletics Championship in Oregon, USA and another in the Commonwealth Games; a feat he said was achieved in a span of four months.
The Sports Minister added that Amusan also won a Diamond League title in Zurich, Switzerland on September 8, 2022.
Also, he disclosed that Ese Brume won a silver medal in the Women’s Long Jump event at the 2022 World Athletics and a gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
In the Paralympics category, Dare said that Blessing Oborodudu who won a sliver medal in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics clinched a gold medal in the Women’s 68kg Powerlifting category at the Commonwealth Games 2022.
He also lauded Oluwafemiayo Folashade for retaining the gold medal in the Women’s Heavyweight category and setting a new world record in the Commonwealth Games 2022.
The Minister of Sports hinted Mr. President that “through the sporting exploits and excellence of the young athletes before you in this hall and several others not able to make it for this reception, Nigeria has served notice that it will not relent.
”That it will show up and compete for every laurel available not only in sports but in youth development, economic progress, social emancipation, political development and many more.”
He thanked President Buhari for encouraging and providing the needed support in the sport sector, stressing that ”this administration’s investment in youth and sports development, will continue to yield dividends years after you might have completed your term as President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria.”