The country’s medallists, who finished ninth at the Games with nine gold, nine silver and six bronze, had lamented the ‘handshake reward’ from Vice-President Yemi Osinbajo during a visit to the Presidential Villa on May 29.
One of the athletes, Roland Ezuruike, who won gold in the men’s powerlifting event at the Games, had said, “It was very painful that we had to travel all the way there for only a handshake. I think there should be a special consideration for athletes with disabilities because it takes a lot of courage and determination for many of us to go into sports. We were expecting that some form of reward would be given to us when we were told that the President would receive us.”
But Dalung said the athletes were financially rewarded by the ministry while in Australia, and shouldn’t have expected further financial rewards from the Federal Government.
“I think we have a responsibility to educate those complaining. There is a laid down policy that if you win a medal you will be rewarded, and those who won medals were rewarded instantaneously in Australia,” Dalung said in an exclusive interview with The PUNCH.
“Those who participated got their entitlements for their daily allowances for the number of days they were away at the Games. So, nobody has any reason to complain about any remuneration because all these issues were taken up.”
The minister added, “If you are expecting anything from the President, that should be at the President’s discretion but I don’t think any athlete will be fair to Nigeria or the ministry to say he or she still expects anything. No.
“We discharged our obligation and we are not wanting. In fact for the first time in the history of Nigeria, we went for a competition well-kitted; every athlete was given a kit bag containing not less than 10 different items including trainers. I think we should learn to appreciate when things are done correctly in this country.”