On Saturday,15th September 2012,our President made history by rewarding members of the Nigerian team to the 2012 London Paralympic games and the national under-20 women football team otherwise called ‘the Falconets’.
The President announced a cash reward of N5 million for each gold medalist, while the five silver medalists were rewarded with N3 million each and the two bronze medalists were rewarded with N2 million each.
This feat alone stands Mr. President out in the history of Nigeria as far as sports is concerned. The President, at a reception held for both teams at the State House Banquet Hall in the nation’s capital announced also the conferment of the Member of the Order of Niger (MON) six Paralympians that won gold medals at the games which placed Nigeria 22nd out of the 164 participating countries and 3rd in Africa.
This was a brilliant performance and I would want to commend the President for financially rewarding them. To me, this is one of the best things the President has done in recent times and he deserves praises for that.
The paralympians won six gold medals, five silver medals and one bronze medal. A good number of Nigerians home and abroad through their reactions believe that this gesture would go a long way to boosting the morale of the athletes to perform better for the nation when the opportunity calls.
As a lover of good things, I believe the largesse is needed at this point in time to reward excellence in the nation’s sports endeavors because the athletes would now be motivated to excel as they would know that any good result would be appreciated by the government.
In fact, the President has set the tone for revamping our sports after the country’s dismal outing at the Olympics. I still remember that before now, the best reward our athletes got from the previous administrations was only a ‘handshake’.
According to a sports analyst, Nigeria’s sports witnessed an unprecedented downturn since 1999 due to the past administrations’ policy of rewarding athletes with only a ‘handshake’. There was no motivation to excel in sports because the country’s hardworking athletes would get nothing but a handshake at the end of the day.
Having started this, the President should please for the sake of our sports ensure that this policy is sustained because it would definitely stand out as a new dawn in the nation’s sports history. It would equally spur various states governors and LGA chairmen to emulate and do likewise.
Meanwhile, if this move is replicated at the state and Local Government Area level, it would ensure the discovering and harnessing of budding talents who would in turn bring honours for the country because grassroot sports development is the bedrock for reviving sports in the country. Indeed, this motivational policy would serve as the icing on the cake.
On the other hand, it would ensure more private sector involvement in the country’s sports and the government should as a matter of sincerity in revitalizing sports, create the enabling environment for private sector involvement in sports.
Independent sectors should be saddled with the responsibility of implementing the rewards in the future to avoid bureaucratic bottleneck associated with governmental agencies.
One of the best ways of the best ways of replicating this performance and even surpass it is by giving them early preparations for the 2016 Paralympics in Rio, Brazil.
Through this sterling performance, the Paralympic heroes had demonstrated ability in disability while the Falconets showed that what the men could do, the women could do even better.
Indeed, one good turn deserves another. Thank you, Mr. President for remembering these national heroes.
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