Some groups of sportsmen and women on Saturday at the Eagle Square in Abuja rallied support for President Goodluck Jonathan’s second term in office. The solidarity rally involved a large turnout of retired and serving athletes, as well as sports administrators. It was however preceded by some forms of physical exercise, such as jogging, physical stretches and light aerobics.
Former Super Eagles’ captains, Nwankwo Kanu and Joseph Yobo, led other sportsmen and women, including members of the Super Falcons, to the event. Some of those who spoke at the rally, including former African sprint queen, Mary Onyali-Omagbemi, and Olympic taekwondo medalist, Chika Chukwumerije, said Jonathan’s love for sports necessitated their support.
Onyali-Omagbemi, in her goodwill message titled: “Sprint into victory,” said the empowerment of Nigerian athletes by the present administration had brought back the lost glory of Nigerian sports.
She said: “We don’t want you to go now because you have started a race like I did as a sprinter. I sprinted and finished my race to get the two bronze medals I won in five Olympics which I participated in. “I never stopped halfway. If I had stopped half way, I wouldn’t have got the medals.
“So, President Jonathan, you cannot stop now. We want you to keep running and finish the race.” Onyali-Omagbemi said Jonathan’s youth development programmes would never go unnoticed, no matter the level of opposition. The former athlete said Ese Brume, who won a gold at the 2014 Commonwealth Games held in Glasgow, Scotland, was one of the discoveries of the present administration. Chukwumerije, on his part, said he believed that Jonathan’s re-election would guarantee Nigeria’s participation at the 2015 All-Africa Games and the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil. He said any change of government now would truncate and disorganise the chain of successes so far achieved in the sports sector.
He said: “If there is a change of government now, what will happen to the All-Africa Games coming up in six months’ time and the Olympics coming up next year? We didn’t qualify for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations but we qualified for the next edition and won it. Because we didn’t win any medal at the London 2012 Olympics and Jonathan has urged us to go and win at Rio 2016, I am sure we will win medals.
“It will happen exactly the way it happened with the Super Eagles who won the 2013 AFCON after they failed to qualify for the previous edition.”
In the same vein, Samuel Ekeoma, the Technical Director of Nigeria Para-powerlifting Federation, said the world of the disabled in Nigeria had changed for the better since Jonathan took over.
Ekeoma said: “Our world has been turned around since Jonathan became the president of Nigeria. You are the only president that has brought the disabled persons to the Presidential Villa. The pictures of the Aso Rock Presidential Villa will never die in our homes because you have given us a sense of belonging, which means that we have abundant abilities. We cannot fail you and we have never failed you.“
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