Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF) technical committee chairman, Chika Chukwumerije has disclosed that he and other officials in the martial arts body are delighted with the opportunity of being the first to stage events at the national stadium in Abuja, after it was renamed in honour of late Chief M.K.O. Abiola.
The stadium will henceforth be known as Moshood Abaiola National Stadium, Abuja, following a declaration by President Mouhammadu Buhari to mark June 12 as the new official Democracy Day in Nigeria, and Chukwumerije says three taekwondo events are billed for the venue.
The Beijing 2008 Olympic Games bronze medalist added in a chat during Radio Nigeria Network News that it will be a huge honour for the taekwondo federation getting the opportunity to first use the arena after it dons the name of the acclaimed winner of the cancelled June 12, 1993 elections.
Abiola subsequently became a martyr, after being imprisoned by the government of late General Sani Abacha, for publicly declaring himself president, only for the man fondly called ‘MKO’ to die after spending months incarcerated, while the military leader passed on soon after.
June 12 had since become a watershed date in the history of the vibrant struggle for Nigeria’s democracy, such that wild applause has followed Buhari’s official recognition of the day as a public holiday and renaming the sports edifice in Abuja after Abiola.
In adding his voice to commendations of Buhari for taking the bold step and decisions, which many Nigerian presidents before him shied away from, Chukwumerije said the taekwondo body is thrilled to lead the way.
Chukwumerije added: “We are happy that we are among the federations that will first use the stadium after its renaming.
“In fact, we might even be the first federation to use it, because we have four national programmes coming up this month.
“We have a referees’ certification course, national grading and technical assessment as well as competition we are planning for the stadium.
“We are honoured with the privilege that we have to formally launch the stadium’s new name with these events.”