Speech by His Excellency, Muhammadu Buhari, President and Commander-in-Chief, Federal Republic of Nigeria, on the occasion of handing over of Team Nigeria athletes and officials participating at the Rio 2016 Olympic games to the Nigeria Olympic Committee as well as the investiture of Mr. President as Grand Patron of Nigeria Olympic Committee, 19th July, 2016 at the State House, Abuja.
“I am highly delighted to receive the cream of Nigerian sporting talents and their team officials that are set to do our nation proud at the 2016 Olympic Games, commencing from 5th to 21st Augustthis year in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. I have been reliably updated on the outstanding performances of our athletes and teams, at their various qualifying championships, which have led to the qualification of a sizeable number of athletes who will fly our national flag at this premier global sporting occasion.
2. Nigeria has 49 qualified male athletes and 29 female athletes, giving us a total of 78 athletes in 10 sport disciplines.
3. It is therefore the honour of the Federal Government to officially unveil the qualified athletes of Team Nigeria to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
4. Aside the sports that we have qualified for the Olympic Games, I have equally been informed that our athletes have qualified athletes for the Paralympic Games, which comes up immediately after the Olympic Games in Brazil.
5. I therefore want to use this opportunity to personally congratulate all these worthy athletes on their qualifications for these Games, even in the face of daunting challenges in their preparations.
6. 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.
7. 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.
8. 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.
9. 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.
10. The menace of drug use in sports is threatening the core foundation of sports and has led to embarrassing situations as well as sanctions 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.
11. Please bring as many medals back home as a result of your efforts and endeavour. 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.
12. Finally, let me assure you of the support of over 170 million sports-loving Nigerians who are solidly behind you as you depart to bring glory to our fatherland in Rio.
Therefore, Go for Gold in Rio!
Go Team Nigeria! Go!
I wish you all the best of luck.