By Chijioke Okoronkwo
President Muhammadu Buhari has received the Queen’s Baton relay to Nigeria ahead of the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England.
The presentation of the baton was held on Saturday, at the State House banquet hall.
Habu Gumel, President, Commonwealth Games Nigeria, received the baton at the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja, and handed it to the Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, who presented it to the president.
Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Buhari said it was a very special pleasure to welcome the Queen’s Baton relay to Nigeria and reminded the Commonwealth of its strong bond of brotherhood.
“This is a much loved tradition which precedes every commonwealth games; a baton carrying Her Majesty’s message of goodwill to the Commonwealth goes on a 90,000 mile, 72 country journey to end at the Birmingham 2022 Commonwealth Games.
“As the relay goes from one Commonwealth member country to another, in its journey across several continents, the two billion strong population of the Commonwealth are reminded of the strong bonds of brotherhood and friendship that bind us, across these continents, nations, races, tongues and faiths.
“This joyful event will end at this time in Birmingham, the city that will host the games in 2022.
“Nigerian athletes will join their brothers and sisters at the games, as we have done at several occasions of the games since we first attended in 1950, when Joshua Majekodumi won our first medal, in the high jump event;
”Since then, our athletes have won no less than 236 medals at the games! We are set to do much better in Birmingham,’’ he said.
Buhari commended the relay team for their cheerfulness and dedication to the tour covering thousands of miles, and the organising committees for all their hard work in seamlessly delivering the relay event.
The president also lauded the athletes, who would bring excitement and thrill to millions at the festival of sport and culture.
Earlier, in his remarks, Dare described the event as another remarkable milestone of the Commonwealth Games Federation which signified peace, unity and love among the comity of nations.
He said it was exciting to be associated with the iconic event of hosting the Queen’s Baton relay being the very first African country to do so.
The minister said it was the equivalent of the Olympic torch relay.
Gumel, on his part, said that the baton, on tour of Africa, was launched from Buckingham Palace earlier in the month by Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth 11, the Patron of the Commonwealth Games Federation.
He said the baton would return to the UK on July 28, 2022, for the opening ceremony of the games. (NAN)