Amike, Udo-Obong, Temile, other sportsmen meet, canvass support for Jonathan
A GROUP of Nigerian sportsmen, comprising former Olympians, retired footballers and other stakeholders in the sector, has expressed faith in the transformation programme of President Goodluck Jonathan and urged members of the sports community and the public to support his re-election.
The group, which said the meeting at the National Stadium, Lagos at the weekend was to x-ray the performance of the current administration in the sector and find ways of advancing sports development in the country, believed re-electing Jonathan was an imperative for the continuity of the development and progress of the sector, as well as the advancement of the welfare of Nigerian sportsmen and women.
Among those present at the meeting were President of the Nigerian Olympians Association, Henry Amike, Sydney 2000 Olympic gold medalist, Enefiok Udo-Obong, former African and current Nigerian long jump record holder, Yusuf Alli, Super Eagles’ former stars, Peter Rufai and Clement Temile, Dr. Rafiu Ladipo of the Supporters’ Club, Prince Are Feyisetan, national coach in Powerlifting and Special Sports, Babatunde Popoola, and Uche Ugwu of the Grassroots Coaches Association.
In a communiqué jointly signed by the various segment leaders of the group, the sports community noted that “President Jonathan has demonstrated a unique commitment to the development of sports and has performed creditably well in the transformation of the sector in his first tenure as evidenced in his support for and the achievements of various Nigerian representatives in various continental and international championships, his exemplary initiative for reforms following the Presidential Retreat on sports and his outstanding and robust support, motivational, rewards and awards system for performing and emerging sportsmen which has raised the bar in the annals of Athletes and Players’ welfare in Nigeria.”
In consideration of the notations, the group said they “verily believe that a second term for President Jonathan is necessary for the continuity of the transformation and progress in Nigerian sports” and accordingly resolved to endorse and support his re-election.
To effect this, they group has tasked itself to mobilise members of the sports community and the public behind President Jonathan and continue to offer suggestions, develop initiatives and partner with the government for the sustained development and transformation of Nigerian sports.
The group also resolved, particularly, to hold a commendation and mobilisation rally for President Jonathan at a yet to be announced date ahead of the elections.
Speaking further on the joint position of the sportsmen, Amike, who is the National Coordinator of the group, explained: “First, it is important to state that we are a non-party group as we have members who belong to different political parties, but we are all on common ground on the need to support the re-election of President Jonathan.
“Secondly, we are all Nigerians and we have a stake in the destiny of our nation. We are all living witnesses to the history of our nation and we know where we are coming from. There are so many developments and transformation going on in the country, in agriculture, roads, rails and so on. Whether people want to acknowledge them or not, for different partisan interest, is left for them, but what concerns us is our own industry which is sports.
“For us in sports, the sector has never enjoyed as much recognition, commitment, encouragement, motivation, support and rewards for performance as under President Jonathan. We have recorded resurgence in the performance of our various sports teams in the African, Commonwealth and World Championships levels and we can see several ongoing reforms in youth sports development, elite and high performance development and even in the league reforms which is directed towards ensuring that footballers enjoy better pay and are accorded higher professional value in a more businesslike league management environment. These things need to be sustained and that is why we believe that President Jonathan should be supported to continue.”
Other members of the group include African track queen, Mary Onyali-Omagbemi, Olympic quarter-mile relay medalist, Falilat Ogunkoya, Henry Nwosu, Coach Joe Erico, Jerry Okorodudu, Gabriel Okon, Thomas Aroko, Bernard Joman, Ado Maude, Lawrence Adegbeingbe, Olawale Shittu and Femi Emmanuel.