By Deji Abdulwahab
The Nigerian Tourism Development Corporation (NTDC), on Friday, honoured the Nigerian-American welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman as Nigeria’s Tourism Ambassador.
The Director-General of NTDC, Mr Folorunsho Coker, said this when the Ultimate Fighting Champion (UFC), Usman visited him in Abuja.
Coker said that the honour premised on the fact that Usman came to the country to show the whole world that “he is a Nigerian and have come to identify himself with Nigerians.”
“Since I have been in the tourism development corporation for five years, I have not appointed any person as a tourism ambassador.
“When I heard you a Nigerian champion is coming to Nigeria, Abuja, NTDC, what I resisted for the past five years went straight out of the window.
“Given this, I, on behalf of the board and management of NTDC, will like to appoint you as Nigeria’s Tourism Ambassador,’’ he said.
The director-general, who described sports tourism as a big business, lauded Usman’s spirit for winning the UFC.
“In the UFC, there are three Africans who are the heads of the profession, World champion and of those three, two are Nigerians.
“So, it is in the Nigerian spirit that they will never be last, that they can do, will do, must do, must-win is what has come home to say hello to us.
“I hope your achievements will inspire and encourage a lot of Nigerians who have talents to see the roadmap to this belt.
“Seeing you with this belt, I hope it translates to something of hope. Your visit here will also unite the UFC fighters in Nigeria,’’ Coker said.
Earlier, Usman, who nicknamed himself “Nigerian Nightmare’’ said his visit was to show the whole world that he comes from Nigeria.
He lauded the United States of America for allowing him to participate in the championship.
“I feel great, you know growing up as a small boy is not something you dream of. You are living life every day and somehow got a position to be able to inspire and motivate people.
“So, it is a great honour for me. I’m very thankful and very humbled by the appointment,’’ he said.
He said although America aided him in terms of human and other development, he referred to Nigeria whenever he won the fight because he took his root, Nigeria very seriously.
The UFC champion said that he and his team had a lot of plans to engage youths in sports activities to affect change in the country.