Tokyo Olympics: FG sets Atlanta ’96 medals benchmark for Team Nigeria

The federal government has charged participating Nigeria athletes representing the country in the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics not to go below the six medals record set at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

The federal government has charged participating Nigeria athletes representing the country in the forthcoming Tokyo Olympics not to go below the six medals record set at the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

Minister of Youth and Sports Development Sunday Dare set the benchmark during the inauguration of the newly constituted Caretaker Committees for 30 National Olympic Sports Federations in Abuja on Tuesday.

Dare, in his address, defended the devolution of the federations, arguing that it has become necessary after the expiration of their tenures and fact that the Tokyo Olympics is less than 90 days.

‘The Caretaker Committees are thus specially selected to reflect our aspirations towards podium appearances at the Tokyo Olympics. Nigeria has won just one medal in the last two Olympics, the 2012 Olympics in London and the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro. The medal, a bronze came in the Football event and this is unacceptable to us as Nation. This is what we must all try to change,’ the sports minister said

‘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 charged.

On the reason for setting up Caretaker Committee, the minister said: ‘I welcome you all to this physical and virtual inauguration of the Caretaker Committees set up after the dissolution of the boards of the 30 National Olympic Sports Federations.

‘The dissolution became necessary because of the expiration of their tenures. It is also important because of the Tokyo Olympics which is less than 90 days away and which not only requires that all hands are on deck but also because continuity is necessary to ensure preparations for the Games are not hampered in any way.

‘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 their jobs terminate immediately after the Olympics as elections into the Federations will be guided by their constitutions and the Code of Governance.

‘For 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.

‘In conjunction with the Nigeria Olympic Committee, we will ask these federations to draw up their constitution not later than six months after the inauguration of the new boards,’ he stated.

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The Commander, U.S. Africa Command, U General Stephen Townsend, wrapped up a three-day West African visit February 22-25, 2021, with a stopover in Nigeria to meet with the nation’s leaders and further the long-standing partnership and security cooperation between the two countries.

A press statement by the Embassy on Friday, said: “During the visit, Townsend met with the Nigerian President’s Chief of Staff, Ibrahim Gambari, and National Security Adviser, Babagan Monguno, to discuss regional security issues and to express the command’s gratitude for the assistance provided during a hostage rescue operation last year.

“When we asked for their help, the Nigerian government answered the call. Our hostage recovery mission in October would have been impossible without their support.

“They quickly provided assistance that helped the U.S. military to save an American life. That is a strong example of our partnership with Nigeria.”

Townsend also met with senior military officials, including the Minister of Defence, Bashir Salihi Magash, and the Chief of Defence Staff, General Leo Irabor, to talk about on-going cooperation in the region and greater maritime security and threat mitigation.

Nigeria is a key partner in countering violent extremist organizations throughout the Lake Chad Basin.

Townsend said furthermore: “The bilateral relationship between Nigeria and the U.S. is built on several pillars including security cooperation.

“U.S. Africa Command will do our part to advance the security cooperation pillar, so that Nigerians can enjoy the more secure future they all deserve.”

As close partners, the U.S. and Nigeria have worked at ensuring the collaborative relationship continues to grow to include a commitment to interoperability. Nigeria purchased 12 A-29 Super Tucano light attack aircraft, which will be delivered later this year.

“Nigeria’s purchase of A-29 Super Tucano aircraft is another example of their commitment to interoperability and security in the region,” he added. “Our economic relationship with Nigeria is already strong, and we look forward to the continued strengthening of security relationships. Nigeria’s leaders understand the importance of a collaborative approach to ensuring stability in West Africa and partnering on areas of mutual interest.”

The Commander also met with the U.S. Ambassador to Nigeria, Mary Beth Leonard.

Leonard said: “General Townsend’s visit to Nigeria demonstrates the strategic importance the United States places on our bilateral relationship with Nigeria.

“Our security cooperation partnership with Nigeria’s military will strengthen the country’s capabilities to secure land and sea borders, enhance overall security, and combat terrorism in the North East.”

As part of the visit, Townsend participated in a wreath-laying ceremony at the Nigeria Military National Cemetery to honour those who have given their lives in the service of their nation.

During the visit, the delegation expressed their condolences for the seven service men killed in the crash of a Nigerian Air Force aircraft in Abuja.