Stephen Angbulu, Abuja
Commonwealth gold medalist and one of the athletes awarded national honours by the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), Ese Brume, has said she did not expect the Officer of The Order of The Niger award bestowed upon her.
Speaking at the 51st session of the State House Ministerial Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team, Brume said, “That was amazing. To be honest, I was expecting something like MFR, but I got a double portion. I’m happy, I’m excited, thanks to the President.”
The briefing featured the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, who provided key updates on the outcome of the official presentation of the Nigerian contingent to the 2022 Commonwealth Games to the President.
She was one of at least 13 athletes who received the national honours and N200 million for Team Nigeria contingents to the 2022 Commonwealth Games and World Athletics Championships at the State House on Thursday.
Nigeria went home with 35 medals, including 12 gold, nine silver and 14 bronze at the 2022 Commonwealth Games, emerging seventh globally and No.1 in Africa.
The recipients include Tobi Amusan (100m Women’s Hurdle and 4x100m Relay), Favour Ofili, Rosemary Chukwuma, Grace Nwokocha (4x100m Relay); Miesinnei Genesis (50kg), Blessing Oborududu (57kg) and Odunayo Adekuoroye (57kg) in Women’s Freestyle Wrestling; as well as Adijat Olarinoye (55kg) and Rafiatu Lawal (59kg) in Women’s Weightlifting.
On her part, world record holder, Amusan, said she was moved to tears at the World Championships in Oregon during the medal presentation ceremony as she reminisced on the past sacrifices that brought her this far.
She said, “That moment was more of a ‘finally’ kind of moment, for the hard work and the sacrifices, the dedication, and mostly more of the setbacks, failures and you know, defeats every now and then. So, it was just a moment of relief.”
The Minister of Sports and National Development, Dare, noted that the award was the first in the Buhari regime and the highest given to any sportsperson in the country.
He said, “Since this President came in seven-and-a-half years ago, has never given a National Award, he said he was not going to do it. But for the very first time, he decided to give the National Award to our sportsmen and women. And we thank him most sincerely, and give them credit.
“If you also know, this is about the highest award ever given to a Nigerian athlete, OON (Officer of The Order of The Niger). You can check it out. I think it’s about the highest any sportsman or woman has ever received. And that’s what Mr. President did to both Ese and Tobi and we’re grateful for that distinction.”