The 2016 Nigerian Army Sports Festival NAFEST, has kicked off in Abuja the nation’s Capital.
The Nigerian President, Muhammadu Buhari who declared this year’s Nigerian Army Sports Festival NAFEST 2016 Open at the national stadium Abuja, described the festival as a proof of tremendous successes recorded by the Nigerian Military over the boko haram insurgents in the North-east of the country.
President Buhari, represented by the Minister of Defence, Retired Major General Mansur Dan- Ali commended the Chief of Army staff Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai for reviving the sporting activity saying that physical fitness is a core value of the Military which should be maintained at all times.
“The rejuvenation of the sports festival is the proof of the tremendous success recorded by the armed forces in the ongoing operations across the country. I commend the Chief of Army staff for the initiative and resilience at ensuring the revival of the basic rudiments of regimentation in the service” President Buhari said.
The Chief of Army staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, while welcoming guests and participants at the festival, maintained that NAFEST was designed to improve the physical fitness of troops, inculcate the spirit of fair play and friendly contest and also enhance espirit-de-corps through social interaction between officers and soldiers.
“The Nigerian army has certainly contributed its quota to sports development in the country. This is evident in the number of our sports men and women who have over the years , continually represented and won laurels for the country both at local and international sports championships” General Buratai said.
General Tukur buratai chronicled the numerous achievements of the Nigerian Army sports men and women by saying that last year the Nigerian army Basket ball team competed in the national league Division 2 championship and emerged runners up which earned the team promotion to the national basket ball league division 1.
He added that the Nigeria army Football team known as Green Beret emerged champions in the 2015/2016 nationwide League Division 2 which earned its promotion to the nationwide League Division 1 among other achievements.
According to the Army Chief “we will continue to develop and promote sports in the Nigerian Army and identify talents who will represent and win laurels for the country at international sports competition” Buratai asserts.
The Minister of youths and sports in Nigeria Solomon Dalung commended the Nigerian army saying that its leadership deserves appreciation for reviving the sporting activity at this time.
“As the festival has been a veritable tool for discovering budding athletes in the past and many who have become shining stars in their respective fields have done the nation proud in winning medals in various competitions both at national and continental and international competitions” the Minister said.
Events such as boxing, wrestling, judo, kick boxing including water sports will be competed for at the eight day event. Winners stand the chance of being promoted to the next rank as a way of boosting their morale.
Voice of Nigeria’s Defence Correspondent explained that after Seven years of silence, the fitness of Nigerian Army personnel will once again be tested in the field of sports.
This he said is due to the Chief of Army Staff firm belief and conviction that troop’s physical fitness is germane to attaining his vision of having “a professionally Responsive Nigerian Army in Discharge of its constitutional Roles”
The opening ceremony of the games began with a very colourful parade into the stadium according to Divisions led by the Nigerian Army Band Corps and was swiftly followed by the military Anthem.
The special guest of honour, President Muhammadu Buhari who was represented by the minister of Defence (rtd) major general Mansur Dan Ali said the games engender harmonious association and physical fitness amongst soldiers.
Other dignitaries present were the Speaker House Of Assembly, honourable Yakubu Dogara, minister of Youth and Sports Solomon Dalung and a host of others.
According to the Army Spokesman Colonel Sani Usman, this is the 16th edition of the Nigeria army games and the army has contributed it’s quarter to the development of sports in Nigeria.
After the games were declared opened, the official lighting of the games torch was done by Caroline Nice who won silver at the 2015 all Africa Games.
The athlete’s will be competing in more than 9 sporting events ranging from tennis, squash, athletics, volleyball, badminton, Scrabble etc.