The former Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdulahi, is set to replace Mr Lai Mohammed as the National Publicity Secretary of the All Progressives Congress (APC) after north central leaders adopted him.
His election held on Thursday at the Zonal Congress of the party in Abuja.
Among the delegates to the congress were Governors Simon Lalong of Plateau and Sani Bello of Niger States.
The congress was chaired by the National Vice Chairman of APC from the zone, Zakari Idde.
Abdulahi was unanimously confirmed via a voice vote by the delegates, after the Nasarawa State House of Assembly Deputy Speaker, Godiya Akwashiki, nominated him and was seconded by Senate Spokesman, Aliyu Abdullahi.
Mr Abdullahi told journalists after his emergence that he would adopt a fresh strategy on his new job as he was aware that the post is different from his former position of sports minister, as they “demand different approaches”.
“I have a fair understanding of what I am expected to do even though you never know until you really get there.
“What I can assure is that I will do the best I can, not only in the improvement of our party but also in contributing to the progress of this country especially at this challenging period,” he said.
On the pressure that comes with the office of the National Publicity Secretary for a ruling party, Abdulahi said that he had the experience to manage this.
“However, what I know is that every human being is under pressure. Mr President, the ruling party chairman and everybody including the journalists are under pressure. There will always be pressure because the expectations of people are very high.
“So, irrespective of the economic challenges, we have to continue to weather the storm especially now that I am brought in to be part of the process. All I can reassure is that I will give the best I can to ensure that we continue to move forward,” he said.
The Minister of Information and Culture, Mr Lai Mohammed, held the position until hi appointment as Minister by President Muhammadu buhari.
The Federal Government has said it was ready to make the present set of Super Eagles players become the first beneficiaries of the National Sports Hall of Fame, that was recently given approval by President Goodluck Jonathan. The Sports Minister and Chairman of the National Sports Commission, Bolaji Abdulahi, said this on Thursday night while addressing players and officials of the Super Eagles at the Garden Court Hotel abode in Milpark, South Africa.
According to the team’s Media Officer, Ben Alaiya, Abdullahi said that the government had also mapped out a heroic ‘welcome’ for the team by Monday next week.
The Minister noted that the government was proud of the achievement of the team so far but added that the team must complete the job by winning the trophy.
‘“Victory is not everything but victory is the only thing”’, Mr Alaiya quoted him as saying.
He admonished the team to go all out for victory in the final against the Stallions of Burkina Faso at the Soccer City in Soweto on Sunday.
President Goodluck Jonathan on Saturday rewarded members of the Nigerian team to the 2012 London Paralympic Games and the national under-20 women football team (the Falconets).
At a reception held for both teams at State House Banquet Hall in Abuja, Mr Jonathan announced the conferment of the Member of the Order of Niger (MON) on six Paralympics athletes who won gold medals at the Games where Nigeria placed 22nd overall among 164 participating countries, and finished third behind Tunisia and South Africa among African countries.
The team of 29 athletes and 19 officials had won six gold, five silver and two bronze medals at the Paralympic Games.
The six gold medallists, who are all powerlifters and will be decorated on Monday in Abuja, include Yakubu Adesokan, who set a new world record in the men’s -48 k; Grace Anozie, Ivory Nwokorie, Loveline Obiji, Joy Onaolapo and Esther Oyema.
Mr Jonathan also announced a cash reward of N5 million for each gold medallist, while the five silver medallists were rewarded with N3 million each.
The two bronze medallists in the Paralympic team were also rewarded with N2 million each, while the team officials were each rewarded with N2.5 million.
Other members of the Paralympic team who did not win any medal at the Games, which was held from 29 August to 9 September, were also rewarded with N500, 000 Naira each.
The president further announced a reward of N1 million each for the women football team while their officials are to receive N1.2 million each.
The Falconets had finished fourth at the 2012 FIFA U-20 Women’s World Cup finals held in Japan from Aug. 18 to Sept. 8 in Japan.
The president said no amount of money or award would be enough to reward the two groups of Nigerian sports figures and that the reception was a modest recognition of their achievements.
“This is a modest recognition, which is just a token in our appreciation of your efforts. It is not the value of the money, but the recognition of your achievement, which is much more than any reward,” he said.
He praised the athletes, saying they gave hope to the Nigerian youths and those that are physically challenged.
“You represented our country to the best of your abilities. You competed among the very best in the world and still kept your heads. You made us proud, and I commend your exceptional courage.
“The Paralympians have also demonstrated to their fellow countrymen and women that being physically challenged is no barrier.
“It is also a great achievement on the part of the Falconets to come fourth in the world. It is not easy. You all helped to put smiles on our faces, and helped to remind the world that Nigeria is still a force in sports,’’ he said.
Earlier in his remarks, the Minister of Sports, Bolaji Abdullahi, had commended the president setting a pace in hosting the Paralympians and the Falconets.
He said it was the first time such an event was organised at that level to recognise athletes for performing outstandingly.
“I however want to call on the private sector to take a cue from the gesture of the President in honouring the Paralympians and the Falconets too,’’ he said.
The minister said the performance of both the Paralympians and Falconets comforted Nigerians following the poor outing of the athletes to the 2012 Olympics earlier.
He blamed the poor outing at the Olympics on high level of indiscipline and lack of commitment on the part of the athletes who represented the country.
Mr Abdullahi however pointed out that the greatest honour that could be bestowed on the Paralympic athletes was to give them early preparation for the 2016 Paralympic Games in Rio, Brazil.
In the same vein, the Chairman of Nigerian Governors Forum (NGF), Rotimi Amaechi of Rivers, however cautioned Nigerians not to be too hard on the London 2012 Olympic athletes.
He blamed their poor outing on poor and late preparation and called on the relevant stakeholders to ensure early preparation for every global competition.
Mr Amaechi also seized the opportunity to call on the Presidency to take the menace of polio as a matter of national emergency.
He decried the recent increase in the number of polio cases recorded as at the last count, and said the NGF would support the federal government in all regards in addressing the problem.
While responding on behalf of the Falconets, the team captain Gloria Ofoegbu thanked the president and presented him with a team jersey signed by all players and officials.
Ms Onaolapo, a powerlifter and world record holder who responded on behalf of the Paralympic athletes, also thanked the federal government for the gesture.
She promised that the athletes would continue to make the president and the country proud through more brilliant performances in the future.
The reception was attended by Vice-President Namadi Sambo, Senate President David Mark and Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Anyim Pius Anyim.
Governors Patrick Yakowa of Kaduna, Danbaba Suntai of Taraba, Idris Wada of Kogi, Theodore Orji of Abia, Martins Elechi of Ebonyi and Sullivan Chime of Enugu also attended the event.
Also in attendance were the Governors Isa Yuguda of Bauchi and Godswill Akpabio of Akwa Ibom, as well as the deputy governors of Bayelsa, Katsina, Jigawa, Gombe, Adamawa, Plateau and Kano States who represented their governors.