The Olympic Torch on Friday arrived Nigeria as part of the countdown to the London 2012 Olympic Games.
Speaking at the event in Abuja, Mr Giles Lever, Deputy British High Commissioner to Nigeria, said the torch represented peace wherever it goes.
He said it symbolised the power of sports to overcome divisions between countries and religions and ``to bind them all together in celebration of hope and a honest competition’’.
Lever said the binding idea originated in Greece to suspend wars during the Olympic Games.
``During the period of the Olympics, all wars and hostilities will be suspended; athletes will be free to travel from different territories to come to the games and compete in peace.
``As far as the torch burned there was peace and a cessation of hostility between all of the different states and cities.’’
The torch is a symbol of peace and an embodiment of the Olympic Truce, which promotes the ideals of peace and conflict resolution.
It promotes the principle that individuals sportsmen compete against each other without the burden of politics, religion or racism.
In a keynote address, Dr Joseph Golwa, Director General, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, noted that sharing sports experiences enhances unity among participants.
``The display of excitement, passion and emotion expressed during sporting activities indicates that sports has the potential for promoting equality, bridging differences in nationality, religion, language and culture.’’
Golwa said that because sport is a tool for promoting peace due to its widely acclaimed acceptance, it should be intensified.
``There is every need to intensify institutional collaboration among relevant public and private institutions to encourage the use of sporting activities in facilitating peace among various ethnic, religious and political groups locally and internationally.’’
He congratulated the U.K. for hosting the event, but stressed the need to beef up security because of the global security challenges.
Sports Minister Bolaji Abdullahi, said the arrival of the torch consolidated the cordial relationship between Nigeria and the UK.
Represented by Mr Muyiwa Oyetunji, Director of Planning and Documentation at the ministry, Bolaji added that the spirit behind the torch would support the Federal Government’s effort towards internal peace among Nigerians.
Sani Ndanusa, Chairman, Nigerian Olympics Committee, said the country’s participants hard prepared well for the games.
``Nigeria is going to compete and not only participate because we have a very sizable team, and I can assure you that they were well selected to deliver.
``We worked hard for it and we are still working hard because our athletes have been training all over the world using the best facilities that can be obtained.’’
He told newsmen after the event that although Nigeria was facing some challenges it was not the time to complain but rather a time prepare well and achieve results.
``I want to assure you that we are working assiduously and very hard to have Nigeria’s name placed on the medal table.’’
The Summer Olympic Games is scheduled to hold from July 27 to Aug. 12, and the Paralympic Games from Aug. 29 to Sept. 9, both in London.
Highlight of the event was the presentation of a replica of the torch to Levers by Ndanusa.