Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman
Minister Pleads For The Release of Mikel Obi’s Father
Benin: Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman, the Minister of Sports and Chairman National Sports Commission, in Benin on Friday appealed for the immediate and unconditional release of the father of Nigerian international, Mikel Obi.
Sulemanmade the appeal while addressing journalists at the Etete camp site of the Nigerian boxing team to the All African games in Maputo, Mozambique.
“I felt sad and troubled at the news of the adoption because of the bad and negative press it is giving us as a nation at the international stage.
“I have already reached out to Mikel in London and to assure him that the government and the good people of Nigeria are with him at this moment and that the situation should not affect his play.
“I sent him an SMS to that effect when I could not speak with him on phone.
“Obviously this act is not good for the image of Nigeria and Africa and I appeal to those responsible for this act to immediately release the man unconditionally,’’ Suleman said.
The minister had earlier assured the Nigerian boxing contingent of the government’s support and urged the athletes to be good sports ambassadors in Maputo.
He said government was appreciative of their sacrifice to have left their loved ones for more than two months to camp in Benin preparatory to the games.
Sulemansaid “I am here to remind you that it is an honour and pride for you to represent your country at the international level.
“I, therefore, urge all of you to put in your best as you have all that are required to succeed .
“But let me say that government is ready to give more but I want you to bear at the back of your mind that it is not about you or about me but about Nigeria which colour and flag you are going to represent at the games,’’ he said.
The team captain, Ademuyiwa Olumide, thanked the minister for the support they had so far received in camp.
While Olumide assured the minister and Nigerians that they would endeavour to win laurels in Maputo, he, however, appealed for early camping and international exposure in the form of training tours for the athletes in future competitions.
He said apart from the fact that such tours would expose them to state-of-the art facilities, which were lacking in the country, they would help to boost the athletes’ confidence before major tournaments.
The minister was received at the Benin airport by the Edo commissioner for sports, Miss Anita Evbomwan. (NAN)