*We shall create new structures of competitions
Like President Barrack Obama once said, “If there is anyone out there who still doubts that Nigeria is a place where all things are possible, who still wonders if the dream of our athletics founders is alive in our time, who still questions the power of our democracy, today’s election is your answer.”
Let every child with the Nigerian blood and will of ‘I can be the best’ pick their gaunt and be counted. In the next 18 months, I had promised six Athletics Development centres in the country. The first shall be in place within the next three months. No more will our sport remain on the pedestrian path. We shall return to the pole position in Africa and in the world.
May be not in this term but we are in a hurry to make Nigeria great again in athletics. We have laid out the plans. Now that you have popularly elected our team, we shall set to work immediately.
Our athletics is like a nation coming out of war. There are destructions and debris everywhere. We must start from the scratch. We must begin from ground zero. The remnants of war will be picked and reconstructed.
For our youth population. You who has trained hard on your own to be where you are. Fear not. Despair not. We shall create new structures of competitions. We shall create the environment to make you achieve your goals. For those of you who aspire to be great, you have a partner in us.
Echoing Martin Luther King’s “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop” address, I declare today, “Because of what we did on this day, electing us into office in this election, at this defining moment, change has come to Nigeria” and “The road ahead will be long, our climb will be steep. We may not get there in one year, or even in one term—but Nigeria, I have never been more hopeful than I am today that we will get there.”
To those who ran the elections with us, we are not enemies but friends. Though, passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection for our common heritage – our athletics. We must work together. We must strain the pains out together. I offer you a hand of brotherhood. Come, let us tug our nation out of the wood. It is about two issues: Nigeria and the Nigerian youths.
To the media, parents, former internationals and faithful but religious followers of our sport, today, we stand on the arc of our athletics history. Today, your votes have spoken volumes. Today is our time to put our sport back to work. It is time to open doors of opportunity for our kids from Kaura Namoda to Ughelli; From Gembu to Ajegunle.
It is time to restore our nation’s athletics prosperity and promote the cause of world leadership for which we were known; to reclaim the Nigerian leadership in world athletics, to re-affirm that fundamental truth, that, out of 160million Nigerians, we are the ones you elected;
Go home, sleep awhile, wake and be strong. Our nation must be great again with you behind us.
BEING INAUGURAL SPEECH OF HON IBRAHIM GUSAU, NEWLY ELECTED PRESIDENT OF THE ATHLETICS FEDERATION OF NIGERIA (AFN) ON 13TH JUNE 2017.