In response to the announcement made by the Local Organising Committee of the 20th National Sports Festival, that the festival will end abruptly 12noon on Thursday over lack of fund, the Federal Government of Nigeria has declared that the festival will continue in Edo State as planned.
The development is coming after postponement of the festival on several occasions. No fewer than 8,000 athletes from different states of the federation are participating in the festival which had its opening ceremony at the Ogbemudia Stadium.
Ebomhiana Musa, the Media and Publicity Coordinator, National Sports Festival, in a statement on Wednesday night, had said the competition would end on Thursday by 12noon over inability of the Federal Government to redeem its pledge to support. He said the decision was taken at an emergency meeting of the Local Organising Committee headed by Edo Deputy Governor, Philip Shaibu. In his words:
The Local Organizing Committee, Edo2020 regrets to announce that it will end the games abruptly tomorrow, Thursday, April 8, 2021, for lack of funds. Rising from an emergency meeting this evening, the LOC says it has to take this hard decision due to lack of funds having expended its reserves to kick start the games. Regrettably, the FG is yet to redeem its pledge to support us as the host state financially for the cost of postponements. So, we are left with no option but to end the games at noon tomorrow.
The Assistant Director Press Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Ramon Balogun, explained in a statement on Thursday morning that, the Edo Government has not communicated its constraints officially to the Ministry. He said,
The Ministry of Youth and Sports Development has clarified that the 20th National Sports Festival, Edo 2020, is going on as planned with competitions going on as scheduled.
The Ministry and the Main Organizing Committee for the festival are unaware of any plans or threat by the Edo State Government to shut down the sports festival as there has been no official meeting or communication that relayed such information.
The Honorable Minister, Permanent Secretary and Directors are on ground in Benin City where the Festival is holding, and it is expected that the Edo State Government would formally invite the Ministry for a meeting should any urgency exist around the National Sports Festival or communicate officially with the Main Organizing Committee for the festival. The Ministry has no such communication.
For the records, the Edo State government due to the cost implications of postponements occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic requested financial assistance from the Federal government through the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development.
The Ministry has since been at work to secure the financial assistance which it believes is being processed. The MYSD and EDSG are determined to deliver a successful National Sports Festival.”