Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola has splashed gifts of jobs, scholarships, skill training and cash on athletes who represented the state at the just concluded 18th National Sports Festival.
Speaking at a cocktail for the state contingent at the Muson Centre, Lagos Tuesday, Governor Fashola announced cash rewards of N250, 000 for gold medallists while silver and bronze medal winners are to also get N150,000 and N100,000 respectively. Non-medallists at the Eko 2012 Games were also rewarded with consolatory N20, 000 for their efforts.
The Governor also promised that he was ready to work with any of the athletes who aspires to participate in the Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil in 2016 adding,
"For those of you who want to be outstanding sportsmen, we are ready to help you reach your destination. I am ready to work with you every inch of the way until we produce gold, silver and bronze medallists from among you at the Olympics," Fashola promised.
With face glowing with pride and fulfilment, Governor Fashola, who announced the rewards to the already jubilant athletes also promised that the State Government would sponsor all the athletes in the medals category in any sports of their choice both within the African Continent and across Europe.
Governor Fashola said those athletes who wish to work with the State Government would be offered jobs and those who are still in school will be given scholarships up to university level while those of them who wish to learn any skill would be trained in the skill of their choice after which government would give them financial assistance to establish their trades.
Explaining the basis for the rewards, Governor Fashola, who noted that some states promised monetary rewards to their athletes, said the Lagos State Government did not do so because it wanted the athletes to run for the sake of wearing the state's colours and winning honours at the competition.
According to the Governor: "We did not promise you anything but you ran because you wanted to wear the colours of your State. You ran because you legitimately wanted to compete for honour. That is the way a sportsman competes."
He recalled that during his time as a teenager, he and his colleagues were just satisfied to know that a Government official came to watch them compete.
"It is not in our nature to promise people for what they are supposed to do; but it is in our nature to reward people for what they have done," the Governor said adding: "We are doing this because it is now clear to us that you understand the purpose and the mission of this State. We want to build our state inch by inch, block by block until it becomes the model megacity that we want it to be."
Expressing pride over the achievements of the State in the Festival, Governor Fashola said the fact that the State was able to prepare for the hosting of the Festival in one year instead of the traditional two years, showed that the people of Lagos could achieve anything they set their minds to achieve.
Earlier, in her welcome address, the Deputy Governor and Chairman of the Local Organising Committee, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire, described the National Sports Festival in Lagos as a huge success attributing the excellent hosting by the state to the contributions of the numerous stakeholders including the LOC, the Main Organising Committee, the sponsors, journalists and the athletes themselves.
The Deputy Governor singled out Governor Fashola for special commendation. "We appreciate the invaluable input of our Governor, Mr. Babatunde Fashola, and the excellent leadership role he played in the success of the Eko 2012. We thank him and the State Executive Council for the trust and confidence they reposed in us."
Highlights of the event included the presentation of plaques to members of the LOC, Chairmen of sub committees such as Chief Molade Okoya-Thomas, Dr. Ademola Seriki, Senator Olorunimbe Mamora, former First Lady of Ekiti State, Erelu Angela Adebayo, Prince Wale Olagunjoye, Chief Olawale Edun and sponsors like Mr. Cosmas Maduka of the Coscharis Group among others.