By Salifu Usman, Abuja
The minister of youth and sports development, Mr Sunday Dare, has challenged athletes and officials representing Nigeria at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games to work toward surpass the country’s performance at the Atlanta 1996 Olympics where it won a total of six medals including the gold in the men’s Football event and the women’s Long Jump.
Dare gave the marching order yesterday while inaugurating the National Sports Federations caretaker committees at the VIP Lounge of Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.
He described Team Nigeria performance at the last two Olympics, London 2012 Olympics and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, where the Team only won a bronze medal in the football event as unacceptable, stating that the caretaker committees are thus specially selected to reflect Nigeria aspirations towards podium appearances at the Tokyo Games.
He insisted that Nigeria has what it takes to excel at the global sporting events.
“With the performances of our athletes in pre-Olympics circuit and championships, it is crystal clear we have the talents to excel at the Games and even get close to our performance at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 where we won a total of six medals including the gold in the men’s Football event and the women’s Long Jump. That benchmark is something we must not go below again and the wrangling in some of the Sports Federations going to the Olympics will not help our preparations.
“I believe what Nigerians want is for us to better our performance in 1996 and they should support whatever decisions we take that are geared towards achieving that benchmark of 1996 or even surpass it. My message to the caretaker committees is simple: This is not the time to play politics but the time towards putting Nigeria among the medal winners in Tokyo,” Dare said.
The minister further stated that the dissolution of the Sports Federations boards became necessary after the expiration of their tenures, saying with the Tokyo Olympics just less than 90 days away it requires all hands are on deck to ensure preparations for the Games are not hampered in any way.
He warned that he will not hesitate to remove any caretaker committee that works at cross purposes with the Federations aspirations.
“I want to warn that we will not hesitate to remove any caretaker committee of any of the Federations that work at cross purposes with our aspirations.
“It is also important for the caretaker committees to know that your jobs terminate immediately after the Olympics as elections into the Federations will be guided by the constitutions and the Code of Governance.
“The Federations with constitutions not yet ratified by their international bodies, the Code of Governance drawn up by the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development will be used to conduct elections into their various boards.”