First Lady, Federal
Republic of Nigeria, Dr. Mrs. Aisha Buhari has drawn attention to the plight of
retired para powerlifters and other athletes in Nigeria, many of whom retire
into hardship after having served their country superlatively. She made this
call during the opening ceremony of the Abuja 2020 Para Powerlifting World Cup,
on Tuesday, 4th February, 2020 at the International Conference Center.


Mrs. Buhari said,
“I have since observed the contribution of these athletes in reshaping the
image of Nigeria with immense significance and the Country owes them a debt of
gratitude. She called on the nation to start repaying this debt by ensuring
they are well taken care of in their time of need.


“It is in this
light, that my foundation, the Aisha Buhari Foundation and other developmental
partners will soon unveil a program that will aim to make retired athletes
welfare a great priority. I also believe that it was these athletes dedication
to hardwork and discipline that won the Country the hosting rights for this
competition, being a qualifier for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Games” She
said.


Speaking on her
involvement, the First Lady said her interest in the wellbeing of the
underprivileged led to establishing the Aisha Buhari Foundation and Future
Assured and her acceptance to be grand patron of the event.


She congratulated
the organizers of the event and called on Nigerians to support team Nigeria,
otherwise known as “the unstoppables”. She also welcomed teams from other
countries and encouraged them to enjoy their stay in Nigeria.


Deputy Governor of
Enugu State, Hon. Cecelia Ezeilo, said she had always been a sports enthusiast
and that is why she accepted to be the grant matron of the Para Powerlifting
Team and felt a sense of duty to organize a fund raising for the event, which
turned out successful. She called on the organizers to ensure successful
conduct of the event.


Hon. Minister of
Sports, Mr. Sunday Akin Dare said the Para Powerlifting World Cup is
significant to Nigeria as it provided the opportunity to implement several
related events including a referee training, coaches training, loaders course
and anti-doping seminar. He wished the athletes success in the competition. He
thanked the first lady for the show of support to the competition, and
extraordinary passion for sports in general.


Hon. Minister of
State, FCT, who was represented by the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary, Mr.
Chijeaka Ohaa reiterated the commitment of the FCT Administration towards the
successful hosting of the world cup as it provides an opportunity to showcase
the tourism potential of the Country.


Others who spoke at
the occasion include the President, Nigeria Para Powerlifting Federation, Mrs.
Queen Uboh Idris, who welcomed members of the international Paralympic
Committee and all the countries contingents. She stated that Nigeria was ready
for the competition and will not only host but will host well. She also
expressed gratitude to the first lady for all the support she has given as
grand patron to the competition and as a Mother of the Nation.


Part of the
highlights of the event was the presentation of sporting kits to team Nigeria
by the Executive Secretary, National Lottery Trust Fund, Dr. Bello Maigari.


The opening
ceremony was attended by Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Mali, Guinea, Guinea Bissau,
Egypt, Italy, Libya, Brazil, Georgia, Kenya, Benin Republic, and Nigeria.


The First Lady was
accompanied to the opening ceremony by Wife of the Vice President, Her Excellency,
Mrs. Dolapo Osinbajo and several wives of the State Governors among others.

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