By Onochie Anibeze
Nigeria’s Ambassador to Russia and Belarus, Chief Assam E. Assam has said that he would advise President Goodluck Jonathan to approve more funds for sports development, saying that sports not only develops the individual, “it’s a great unifier and image booster which every country craves for.”
Ambassador Assam said this in a reception he held for the Nigeria’s delegation to the 14th edition of the Athletics Championships here in Moscow Saturday night.
He told the athletes that two medals from the championships after a 14- year drought was an achievement that he wanted the team to be proud of.
“Your achievement here might look small to you but it is not. For 14 years we never won anything from the championships. Now we have two medals and with more efforts and funding the next edition would be better,” Ambassador Assam told the athletes who intermittently applauded his remarks.
He said that Nigeria has had problems but was now changing and that there was hope in the future of the country. He urged the athletes to seize any opportunity that comes their way to improve themselves positively and also contribute to the growth of the country.
The Ambassador added the following: “You have done us proud and you must not relent in your efforts to continue to improve and win more laurels for Nigeria. Your generation has a future. You must seize every opportunity to make that future great. And I want to be part of the group that will encourage that great future.
We have had bad sports administration for long but things are changing and I’ll tell Our President that we cannot continue to approve little funds for sports and expect huge results. Nigeria can be the best if we put our acts right. Two days ago, I was in the team that welcomed the President of Kenya here and the first issue that I mentioned to him was a congratulatory message on his election and the next was the performance of the Kenyan team here which we all congratulated him.
He did not come for bilateral talks but to watch the Kenyan team and motivate them. Our own President is also encouraging athletes now and will do more for you. I want you to believe in our country. When you wear these our colours, wear them proudly, put in your best and you will never regret it.”
Team captain Blessing Okagbare, in response, thanked the Ambassador for his words and said that it was a great honour for her and the team to be hosted by the sports loving Ambassador.
The team enjoyed their time at the Nigerian House with Nigerian delicacies. The Ambassador and team doctor and AFN member, Dr. Ken Anugwueje entertained the officials with interesting stories of their days as students at the University of Nigeria.