by Stanley Azuakola
It was a naira rain in Aso Rock yesterday as President Jonathan showed critics that he appreciated the efforts of the victorious Paralympics athletes and female Under 20 footballers, Falconets, who did the country proud.
At a reception in their honour, President Goodluck Jonathan announced cash gifts of N1m for each Falconet, and N1.2m for their coaches and handlers. He also announced that all paralympians who won gold medals would go home with N5m each; silver medalists would collect N3m each, while those who won bronze would collect N2m each.
The rest of the Paralympics team that did not receive any medal, would receive N500,000 each.
President Jonathan said that his administration was committed to sports development in the country. In line with that, he announced that a national sports retreat would soon be convened to address the challenges facing the sector.
He described Nigeria’s Paralympics and Under 20 female football championship outing as glorious.
“You have done well and we are indeed grateful,” the President.
The president made mention of the poor outing at the last Summer Olympics, which he described as abysmal. Recalling how Nigerians had achieved great feats in the past, he charged that the disappointment of the last Olympics not be allowed to happen again.
“We must restore the glorious days of our sports,” he said.
Sports Minister, Bolaji Abdullahi, said that the event was the first of its kind at that level to honour athletes, and that preparation must begin for the Summer Olympics in Brazil.
He said “The level of commitment and discipline demonstrated by the Paralympians made the difference.”
Also speaking at the event, the Chairman of the Nigerian Governors’ Forum, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, said the athletes had made the nation proud. He pleaded that Nigerians should not be too hard at Team Nigeria as they would perform better next time.