The 20th National Sports Festival currently ongoing in Edo State will continue after the Presidency’s intervention.
This is according to the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development which stated this on Thursday in its statement that the uncertainty surrounding the continuation of the Sports Festival has been resolved following reassurance by the Federal Government to support the Edo State Government.
“Following the news making the rounds that the Edo State Government will shut down the National sports Festival if the Federal Government support does not come through,” the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development, Nebeolisa Anako was quoted as saying in Benin.
“The Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development is the Organiser of the National Sports festival while the Edo State Government is the host.
“I wish to announce that the Athletes are in their various game villages and games are ongoing following the intervention of the Presidency assuring that the financial support to the Edo State Government is in its final processing stage.
“The games are not under threat. There was an Information gap earlier but as we speak, the games are ongoing and we assure you there won’t be any closure till the closing of the National Sports Festival.”
The Ministry’s reaction comes amid a threat shutdown by the Local Organising Committee over the funding of the competition.
The LOC on Wednesday had said the Federal Government was yet to redeem its pledge to support the host state financially for the cost of postponements, which has left it with no option but to end the games at noon on Thursday.
Earlier Thursday while addressing Journalists at the Media Center of the event.the Deputy Governor of Edo State and the Chairman Local Organizing Committee (LOC) of the ongoing National Sports Festival christened EDO 2020, Philip Shuaibu said Nigerians should blame the Federal Government for the interim shut down due to lack of commitment on their part.
According to him” the planned shut down of the National Sports festival is not due to non preparation from the state government nor that the facilities are not up to standard but due to lack of commitment from the Federal Government through the body language of the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports
He pointed out that during the series of the postponements which cost them a lot of money that the Minister of Youth and Sports made firm promises of financial commitment to them to alleviate their losses, this he said prompted them to engage some vendors and service providers who are now on their neck for payment as agreed.
The LOC Chairman reiterated that if noting concrete is done in terms of full commitment from the Federal Government, they will shut down Samuel Ogbemudia stadium complex which is the administrative hub of the event and again if by Friday nothing is done all the activities will be shut down because their contractors are threatening for their payment.
Shuaibu who denied any political undertone lamented that his LOC has been kept in the dark as par how much has been approved by the Presidency which would have given latitude to use the instrument and source for funds.
He also reported that since the commencement of the sporting events there has not been any communication between his committee and the Ministry, thus giving room for suspicion.