This past Thursday in Minna, Nigeria, the Minister of Sports and Youth Development Solomon Dalung assured the country’s Paralympians that they will have funding to participate in the Rio Paralympic Games.
Dalung was quoted in a press release as saying, “So much has been done for Paralympic athletes and we are ready to do more because most of the medals comes from them, so they are of priority.” According to the same press release, his statement was made to debunk comments in the media and elsewhere that the country was not fully supporting the qualifying efforts of the country’s Paralympic sportspeople. Table tennis players Nasiru Bello, Faith Obiorah and Philomena Konwe had all claimed their Paralympic qualifying efforts had been hampered because of difficulties in securing funding from the National Sports Commission.
While the exact terms of budgets related to supporting Paralympic athletes were not released, Dalung was quoted in the same press release explaining this by saying, “As a General in the army preparing for war, you are not expected to show your enemy the kind of armory you have. If you do, then you are already defeated before the war.”
The Minister of Sports and Youth Development maintained that support Paralympic competitors was a sound investment for the country, as they consistently return from the Games with medals. The 27 athlete strong team in London won 13 medals. This included a number of gold medals, with Esther Oyema, Joy Onaolapo, Loveline Obiji, Ivory Nwokorie, Grace Anozie and Yakubu Adesokan each claiming one in powerlifting. Eucharia Iyiazi won the country’s only non-powerlifting medal, a bronze in athletic’s Women’s Shot Put F57/58 event.
The announcement came a day before Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari signed the country’s budget into law.