The 2010 Commonwealth Games Queen’s Baton on Friday arrived in Abuja, as the Federal Government pledged that Nigeria would remain a staunch advocate of the Commonwealth’s ideals.
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) the Vice-President Goodluck Jonathan, who represented President Umaru Yar’Adua, received the relay team at the entrance to the State House in Abuja.
In his remark, Jonathan said that Nigeria was a proud member of the Commonwealth, adding that the country had always been promoting the unique objectives of the Commonwealth.
He recalled that the country had earlier received the Queen’s Baton in the lead-up to Manchester 2002 and Melbourne 2005.
“Since 1950 when our country first featured in the games, Nigerian athletes have always joined their counterparts from other member nations to share in the Commonwealth spirit of friendship and unity.
“The Commonwealth, as it is known today, has come a long way from being just a handful of nations representing former British colonies.
“It is now a major global force on matters of universal peace, democracy, human rights, economic and social development, as well as youth development and sports,” Jonathan said.
NAN also reports that the Queen’s Baton, which serves as the curtain-raiser to the 2010 Games in New Delhi, was presented to Jonathan by Mr Abdoulie Touray, the Regional Vice President (Africa) of the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF).
Touray was accompanied to the Presidential Villa by Mr Habu Gumel, the President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Sports Minister Sani Ndanusa and FCT Minister Adamu Aliero.
Chief Patrick Ekeji, the Director-General of the National Sports Commission, and members of Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games Organising Committee are also members of the team.
In his remark, Gumel noted that since Nigeria’s first involvement in the quadrennial games in 1950, its profile had continued to rise.
“From the single silver medal won at the 1950 Auckland Games to the four gold, six silver and seven bronze medals won at Melbourne 2006, Nigerian athletes have never failed to prove their worth, thus doing our country proud,” he said.
Also speaking, Aliero expressed the readiness of the FCT to host the 2013 Commonwealth Games.
Aliero, however, urged the Federal Government to ensure that the country secured the hosting rights.
Speaking on behalf of the team, Touray thanked the Federal Government for the warm reception, which the team received.
The highlight of the event was Jonathan’s jogging with the Queen’s Baton in his hand, accompanied by some dignitaries.