Nigeria’s minister of sports and youth development, Solomon Dalung, Nigeria’s ambassador to Brazil, Adamu Emozozo and Chief Executive Officer and Project Coordinator of the Nigeria House in Rio Olympics Hospitality Project, Mohammed Abdullahi have taken turns to relive their experiences and happiness for the eventual take off of the house at the games against all odds.
The Nigeria House Project scheduled to hit Brazil before the commencement of the Olympics happened midway into the games due to some logistical challenges. The house took off in a prime location of Rio, in a Penthouse close to the famous Copa Cabana Beach in the heart of the Brazilian city.
Elated that the house happened against all odds, the sports minister, Solomon Dalung who visited the house described it as a success stating that it’s eventual take off not only gave Nigeria a good image boost, but made her a pride among the comity of African nations.
“The Nigeria House story in Rio, Brazil was a success despite the short period. The effort mobilized to put the house in order by the CEO and Project Coordinator Mohammed Abdullahi was very impressive. The house in Rio has gone a long way in boosting the image of the nation and it meant that the presence of the country in terms of hospitality experience was felt in Brazil during the Olympics.
I really commend the effort of putting together the house in short notice despite the odds when it appeared as if it was not going to be. That I had a very good deal of Nigerian dish with Brazilian flavor during the games in the Nigerian House made me feel at home away from home. When the house came up at the Olympics, it gave me opportunity to eat Nigerian delicacies because one of the biggest challenges for me was having to access Nigerian food. The problem of feeding on Brazilian food was so high that it posed a real challenge to me. But when the Nigeria House came on board, l felt at home.”
Speaking on the goodwill message to the Nigeria contingent during the Olympics by Prophet TB Joshua of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, Dalung said the preacher’s gesture to Team Nigeria as well as the organizers of the Nigeria Hospitality House in Rio was commendable. “This is what we expect Nigerians to be doing whenever we are involved in major tournaments instead of criticizing us. Nigeria is a big country. I know that Nigerians are not happy but what do we do? I think we have to forge ahead and start early preparations for Tokyo 2020 so that we can correct the mistakes we made preparatory to Rio Olympics.” Dalung called on Nigerians to emulate Prophet T.B Joshua’s passion for good causes particularly in sports development. ” Something that amazes me is his passion to follow sports considering the enormity of work he is doing. I thank him.” He concluded.
Nigeria’s ambassador to Brazil, Adamu Emozozo, urged Nigerians not to only support initiatives like the hospitality project but should also give the country’s sports ambassadors financial, moral and spiritual support whenever they are on continental or international assignments. The ambassador while on visit to the Nigeria House at the Olympic Games observed that the athletes did their best within the scope of their preparations. “To me, nobody should blame the athletes. If you take their preparations into consideration you will reason with them that they were not in Brazil for jamboree. Honestly, l am proud of them, especially the football team. This was a team that landed in Brazil late and played its first game 6 hours after arrival but surprised most of us and went ahead ahead to win bronze. They should be commended.”
Revealing that he was thrilled when he received a goodwill message from Prophet TB Joshua, to the Team Nigeria and the entire Nigerian contingent during the Olympics, he said he appreciates the preacher’s steadfastness in the area of supporting sporting ventures. “You see I appreciate the fact that Prophet TB Joshua has remained steadfast in supporting sports and praying for our sports men and women who are representing us globally. This was not the first time he was sending goodwill messages to our teams during international engagements. He has been doing this always and l think other religious leaders should emulate to do same. We thank God for such prayers because not that prayers win medals but can help our athletes compete without casualties. We did not hear of any death, injury or theft among our contingent.”
Chief Executive Officer and Project Coordinator of Nigeria House, Mohammed Abdullahi also described the experience of the Hospitality House in Rio as successful despite not hitting the ground before the commencement of the Olympics as planned.
He said the house became a reality in a posh area of Rio beside the world’s famous Copa Cabana Palace Hotel overlooking the famous beach from a Penthouse. “It was a wonderful experience and the house was located in an area where thousands of tourists throng daily. The Nigeria House was the only house from an African country within the Copa Cabana axis of Rio. It was also the most expensive area in Rio as a tourist centre.”
Abdullahi said notable Nigerians like wife of Olympic football bronze medal winning coach, Samson Siasia was a guest of the house, Nigeria’s most popular artist in Brazil Olumide came to sing and entertain people daily and was a guest of the house with his family throughout the period the house lasted. “In spite of starting midway into the games, we had remarkable presence of well meaning Nigerians like the new president of SWAN who spent a night in the house. Top echelon and directors of the ministry of youth and sports also visited. The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) president and 1st vice president of Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) Solomon Ogba was also at the house, presidents of the Afro Chamber of Commerce and his counterpart at the Brazil Nigeria Chamber of Commerce visited the house to brainstorm and seek collaboration on future opportunities for business forums beyond the Olympics. Others included members/delegates of the Performing Art Association of Brazil Republic who attended a cinema show of Nigerian film at the house.”