By Chijioke Okoronkwo
The baton was handed over on Saturday in the State House banquet hall.
Habu Gumel, President of Commonwealth Games Nigeria, received the witness at Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport in Abuja and handed it over to Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, who handed it over to the President.
Represented by Vice President Yemi Osinbajo, Buhari said it was a special pleasure to welcome the Queen’s Baton Relay to Nigeria and reminded the Commonwealth of its close bond of brotherhood.
“It’s a much loved tradition that predates all Commonwealth Games; a staff carrying Her Majesty’s message of goodwill to the Commonwealth sets out on a 90,000 mile journey through 72 countries to end at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham.
“As the baton passes from one member country of the Commonwealth to another, on its journey across several continents, the two billion inhabitants of the Commonwealth remember the strong bonds of brotherhood and friendship that unite us, through these continents, nations, races, languages and beliefs.
“This joyous event will end at this time in Birmingham, the city that will host the games in 2022.
“Nigerian athletes will join their siblings at the Games, as we have done on several occasions at the Games since our first participation 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 ready to do a lot better in Birmingham, ” he said.
Buhari commended the relay team for their cheerfulness and dedication to the tour spanning thousands of miles, and the organizing committees for all their hard work in organizing the relay event in a transparent manner.
The president also praised the athletes, who would bring excitement and thrill to millions of people at the sport and culture festival.
Earlier, in his remarks, Dare described the event as another remarkable milestone of the Commonwealth Games Federation that signified peace, unity and love between the Committee 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, for his part, said the baton, on tour in Africa, was thrown from Buckingham Palace earlier this month by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth 11, the godmother of the Commonwealth Games Federation.
He said the stick will return to the UK on July 28, 2022, for the games’ opening ceremony.
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